Fish Out Of Water
We measure our world by the limits of our knowledge and experience. If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to treat everything like nails. Bigotry, bias, and prejudice are all words that describe this limited view (hammer) each of us tends to embrace and apply.
A dog does not comprehend poetry, nor does an infant calculus. The worlds of the dog and of the child are extremely limited in scope. For the dog it is predominantly genetically determined. Even if a dog would like to understand poetry, it couldn't and will never grow into it either. On the other hand, a child's view of the world can expand continually throughout life. Unfortunately, as we get into our teenage years and become certain that our knowledge encompasses just about all that could be known ? certainly more than both parents combined ? we become increasingly arrogant, and with this arrogance, closed minded. Intellectual growth can actually stop by about the age of 13, with vocabulary serving as an index of this growth and not increasing significantly for most people after this age.
With that as a preface, let me say that it is easy for us to believe that the world we were born into is the only real world. Fluorescent lights, conditioned air, automobiles, pop, French fries, television, and polyester may seem like the only real and natural world for humans. Without the perspective of history, there would be no way of knowing any differently.
But we do have history. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, which occurred about 200 years ago, we were by and large in an entirely different setting. We spent the majority of our time outside and without any of the modern conveniences and technologies we have come to believe to be as natural and automatic as a tree or the wind.
Our genes, however, are not equally convinced. They remain encoded for the natural world. They are, in fact, an inward definition of the external natural, pre-Industrial, more pristine world.
In this new modern synthetic world we are increasingly alienating our basic biological make up. We are like fish taken out of water.
On a broader environmental scale, human activity rivals the natural processes that have built the biosphere. About 40% of the earth's photosynthetic capacity (plant growth) is now appropriated for human use. The biologically available nitrogen and phosphorus used by humans for fertilizer and chemicals about equals the amount produced by nature. We apparently can alter our atmosphere on a global scale (ozone, Chernobyl, greenhouse gases). Huge numbers of species stand on the curling tip of a wave of extinction ? and the list goes on.
Though it seems presumptuous to suggest that we, here, now in this generation are unique in all of history, the evidence supports that we are. We are a pivotal generation that can either turn things around or continue to fuel a degrading environmental/health spiral that soon, if unaltered by us, will continue in spite of any efforts we make later to change things.
Scary? Yes, indeed. But we need to get scared if that's what it takes to wake up. We are, without a doubt, a very special generation with the weight of the world's future literally on our shoulders.
Don't despair. You, yes little ole puny you, can do much. Everything ever done always began with one. Act on the things you know to be right, healthy, socially responsible, and environmentally sensitive.
Yes, you. Yes, now. Yes, there is no downside in doing so.
About the Author: Dr. Wysong: A former veterinary clinician and surgeon, college instructor in human anatomy, physiology and the origin of life, inventor of numerous medical, surgical, nutritional, athletic and fitness products and devices, research director for the present company by his name and founder of the philanthropic Wysong Institute. http://www.wysong.net