|Source: Alice Popkorn, |
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- The willingness on each part to risk, to become vulnerable, to open up one’s heart and mind to the other.
- The understanding that the actions, desires and decisions of each partner are done for mutual benefit, not for self-serving ends.
But, trust can be broken in an instant.
Have we broken the trust that we built up with Gaia?
Gaia? Who’s Gaia? Gaia is the name given by the scientist James Lovelock to his 1970s theory that the Earth and it’s atmosphere is one inter-connected, self-regulating, complex system. Yes, it is a metaphor. And no, that doesn’t mean that there is some idea of intention or purpose. All it means is that the whole of the planet is a complex system that evolves, regulates itself and adapts via feedback loops in a chaotic1 sense.
That Lovelock chose the name Gaia – the Greek mother Goddess – was perhaps not without some sense that he was adding a modern scientific theory to ideas and concepts that belong to just about every culture on Earth.
The idea that the Earth is our “mother” is one that many of the world’s cultures share. She has been named variously as Anu (Celtic), Tuuwaqatsi (Hopi), Nerthus (Germanic), Pachamama (Andean), Tellus (Roman) and Papatuanuku (Māori). No doubt many other cultures have their own name for Mother Earth. Even modern stories reference an Earth Mother, e.g. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and the movie Avatar, where she is known as Na’vi. The psychiatrist, Carl Jung, suggested that the idea of an earth mother is part of the collective unconscious of all humans.
So, we all share at least a primal concept of the Earth being our mother, even if many of us have either forgotten that, or chosen to ignore it.
Lovelock’s theory though, would suggest that Mother Earth has not forgotten us. The theory suggests that everything (including us humans) is part of the incredibly complex, inter-connected and inter-locking system called Earth. That means that what we do has an impact and influences the feedback loops inherent in the system.
Recognising the metaphor of Gaia, we humans have spent thousands of years building up a trust with Gaia. In that time, Gaia has reciprocated and has nourished us, sustained us and enabled us.
But over the past century or two (only a moment in planetary lifetime) we have broken that trust.
Returning to the two components of trust that this article began with, we have:
- exploited and abused the vulnerability of the Earth, and
- become self-serving in our relationship with Earth.
We must rebuild our trust with Gaia.
1. The word chaotic here refers to Chaos Theory, in which accurate prediction is not possible and small changes in initial conditions can have massive differences in outcome.