Being in Tune or Not: BP, Athabasca Tar Sands & the Death of Nature's Song

Man is whole when he is in tune with the wind, the stars, and the hills....Being in tune with the universe is the entire secret.

---Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas


It is very early morning now as I write this, and the sun is once again making it's full circle as the earth turns and night becomes day, with birdsong heralding the coming dawn. Joy is in the air, a gentle reminder of deep connections that have mostly been forgotten. My thoughts turn from this joyous tune to wonder what this morning would be like if the skies and trees became permanently silenced because the song had died. Such was the warning biologist and ecologist Rachel L. Carson set forth in her 1962 landmark book, Silent Spring.

Rachel Carson called for a change in the way humankind viewed the natural world as she testified in Congress on the dangers of an indiscriminate misuse of chemcials and pesticides. She questioned, "Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life? They should not be called 'insecticides' but 'biocides'" (Carson, 1962, p. xv) She was promptly and bitterly attacked by the chemical industry when their spokesman Dr. Robert White-Stevens of American Cyanamid replied:

"The major claims of Miss Rachel Carson's book, 'Silent Spring,' are gross distortions of the actual facts, completely unsupported by scientific, experimental evidence, and general practical experience in the field. The real threat, then, to the survival of man is not chemical but biological... She is a fanatic defender of the cult of the balance of nature and if man were to follow the teachings of Miss Carson, we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth." (McLaughlin, 2008).

Scientists, politicians, policy makers, garden clubs, and the media alternately took swats at her science, her gender, and her questioning of the "irresponsibility of an industrilized, technological society toward the natural world" (Brooks, 1972, p. 293) However, U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, an ardent naturalist, supported Carson and declared, "We need a Bill of Rights against the 20th century poisoners of the human race" (Lear, 1997, pp. 412-420).

Where are these voices today in our highest offices of the land as tons and tons of chemicals are poured into the gulf and are also being used to dredge up any last drop of oil in the Athabasca tar sands of Canada after the wholesale cutting down of thousands and thousands of acres of trees in this boreal forest? While the old sayings, "out of sight, out of mind," and "dilution is the solution to pollution," could be used in reference to these catastrophes, these ongoing practices only highlight our vast disconnect to ourselves and our planet. Rianne Eisler describes these practices in terms of the dominator model which is "characterized by rigid male dominance, a generally hierarchic, top-down, or authoritarian structure, and a high degree of tension, fear and institutionalized violence" vs the partnership model which "predominantly reflects a feminine stereotype that promotes a more democratic social structure with empathy, non-violence and more equal partnership between men and women". (Eisler, 1994, p. 33-34).

This concept of partnership comes closer to what could be termed a relational way of being. Would our general malaise, the emptiness in our hearts or hollowness, as one friend termed it, along with the proliferation of suppression of these feelings through thousands of prescriptions for psychiatric drugs, as well as use of other substances, be a deep spiritual crisis long in the making?

With the wholesale cutting down of trees and the death of the birds, fish and other wildlife what are we not listening to? The planet is living and sustains us. The ecosystem is just that--an unique ecological, interconnected web with minute interactions filled with what could be called "feedback loops"--so many "feedback loops" and so complex we cannot even imagine it. The same is true of our bodies. The trees are living beings and we are deeply interconnected. The trees breathe in and out with us. They are in alignment with our every breath. They produce the air we breathe so there is a deep harmony--a feedback loop that we seemingly have little consciousness around. We have stepped out of harmony with the trees, plants and natural world around us that have been replaced by more and more shopping malls. Harmony is destroyed and the intricate balance shifts. Are we reaching or have we gone past the tipping point...the point of no return?

Part 1: Our Emotional Body & A Relational Way of Being

In our culture, or cultures that particularly emphasize an objective, non-relational, unemotional paradigm, our feelings tend to be much maligned and denigrated. In fact, in this U.S. culture we go to the extreme of seeking to suppress and control any emotion/feeling with the drugs created and dispensed by the psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry. We often term or label expressions of feelings, dis-comfort associated with what is happening all around us, lack of community, the growing malaise related to systemic disempowerment plus the inability to fully dispense our gifts, passion and purpose in the world, as 'mental illness' or disorder.

From the boardroom, to the teachings of the "separate observer--fair and impartial" embedded in every system and most science experiments, we are taught to separate our feelings, that which makes us human and divine, from the so-called pratical, unemotional observer able to provide an accurate, fair, unbiased explaination or judgment on any behavior and/or situation. As deeply embedded in this culture as this perspective or belief is, this is simply not true. It is actually not possible. What was understood about the universe by indigneous people's is now finally coming to light again through the science of quantum physics, ecological biology and cybernetics.

This notion of the 'separate observer--non-emotional' is embedded so deeply in this culture we can no longer distinguish that it is merely a belief and not a world-view of total reality. Now some people may stop reading here for this engrained pattern of thinking is so pervasive that the thought that it may not be true will raise a high level of resistance as this belief is pushed against. If this is what is happening for you then before tuning out, dismissing this conversation, making yourself busy, or moving on as you surf the web...STOP.

Resistance is the key to understanding and to our ability to dance with change and the flow of what is occurring in daily life and more. Resistance is the edge where we stand still proclaiming that the world is flat when it is, in 'reality', round. It is on this edge, as we shout into what appears to be the abyss below we will hear, if we listen, the echo from that quiet but powerful voice that whispers about an impending shift in opening to heart and a new way of knowing and opening in the mind that begins to see the many doorways, nooks and crannies filled with possibility. Acknowledging resistance through reflection instead of running in the other direction or busy-making can lead to the potential for astonishing transformation to unfold. Begin to take notice of the resistance that arises -- small and large -- throughout your day. This has been a most profound practice for me. The deep denial of our feelings, and the effects that has on those around us as well as their effect on us if they are also engaging in this separation, resistance and denial, is leading us all into the grossly evident disasters and as yet untold disasters showing up more and more predominately in the world around us. Some people are "waking up", but denial, and lack of feeling what is ours to feel, separates us ever more deeply from "ALL Our Relations", and from the divine within enabling and exacerbating the perpetuation of ways of being that are leading to our own extinction along with other species of life.

The advent of the feeling nature and it's voice, whether it is very loud or quietly nudging in it's sometimes uncomfortable way, is merely the voice of our soul, our deepest heart calling us HOME.

As we move forward on this planet it is of utmost importance that we move away from the patterns we were taught in our families of origin, in our educational systems and in the totality of this culture that have sought to suppress, ignore, disassociate/separate us from our feelings. Business practices emphasize this and we have seen the ensuing ecological damage with the destruction of hundreds of thousands of acres of forest and water sources with the Canadian/U.S. Athabasca tar sands, the ongoing BP oil tragedy, and the ongoing Fukishima toxic radioactive water poured into the ocean, along with the financial damage heaped on families, small business and other country's economies by the run-a-way (to be discussed more deeply in the section on understanding systemic thinking) banking/wall street/congressional system that have left many homeless, jobless, with ruined credit and deeply damaged self-esteem.

Many of our sciences and the educational system embeds this separation from our feeling nature in thought and practice. The practice of psychiatry/pharmaceutical industry through psychotropic and neuroleptic drugging seek to suppress, i.e. control behaviors and feelings that we don't want or that disturb us and others because they are not part of the 'status quo' of the way we are told to be in this culture. If feelings are expressed, or we cry, we can be made to feel that we not able to manage our life, nonetheless 'control ourselves' and that we are 'lesser than'. Actually these expressions/behaviors have an awakening effect on others and ourselves that seeks to shift them/us out of denial. When denial is as strong as it is in this culture, we will find many methods and tools to maintain that denial, and in such denial all the important messages that seek to come forth are lost, true healing is circumvented, and disconnection becomes greater. In other words, we feel empty inside -- we are denying the heart and the essence of what makes for an extraordinary life -- the one we are destined to live.

When feelings arise it is cause for celebration! You/we are preparing to take a leap in consciousness.

Get ready as we delve more deeply into the heart of hearts in the subsequent parts of this journey into our feeling nature and the keys of the kingdom, the divine feminine, psychiatry and it's role, and a discussion of our journey to inner knowing vs outer referencing. We will discuss how and why 'outer referencing' is our predominate way of being in this culture and some of the shifts needing to occur to re-weave what has been torn asunder.