>I’m a blogger for the Environmental Research and Innovation Center, here’s my latest post:
Since the beginning of time humans have wanted to know what place we hold in the great mystery of existence. The way we orient ourselves in the universe, our cosmology, dictates how we relate to ourselves and our planet. Our language seems to defy wisdom in its inability to communicate this key relationship. English reflects a cosmology of separation and unchanging statisticity. Our words create the world we live in and ours have become outdated.
One of my favorite professors (I have many) is Brian Swimme who points out in Cosmic Conversations that recent scientific discoveries of the universe are incompatible with the mentality humans had when English was invented and shaped. We have amazing insights and yet no way to talk about them. Our words lack an unfolding necessary to describe how we were created and continue to evolve as a species. The difficulty gets more…er, difficult when we attempt to talk about the universe. We use the article “the” to describe an object, as something outside of ourselves. It’s not until we see ourselves as the Earth and as the universe that we can truly care about this perceived “other.” We must identify ourselves as a part of the universe, not separate from it, if we are to really have a reason to care for it. It’s the difference between gazing at the fuzzy place of stars in the night sky and saying, “oh, there’s the Milky Way,” and instead realizing it is us gazing at the horizon of ourselves as a vast galaxy.
In English there are eight parts of speech — noun, adverb, adjective, verb, adverb, conjunction, preposition, and interjection, in case you needed a review. Here’s the kicker, over half of the word in English are nouns — the largest percentage of any other language. Our language has no space for processing and evolving the way verbs allow us and the way previous cultures and other languages did and do. Many Native American and even Romance languages have a way of unifying the person and action as a way to have of be-ing in the world as opposed to a thinker thinking about objects and things. Without acknowledgement of consistent change we become attached to things/matter/objects. Simply put, our language complicates our way of truly relating to our place in the universe and Earth.
Many Eastern traditions have been comfortable with this orientation of themselves as universe. With this orientation of relationship a subject-object relationship can’t exist. The industrial Western civilization lacks an orientation that supports a relationship to ourselves as more than just humans, and in a lot of cases, consumers and Earth-dwellers. In creating a new cosmology also comes a new way of speaking about the mystery of life. It’s time for a new language — one that reflects our deep connection with all of existence and reminds us of who we truly are as cosmic beings. Clifford Matthews, a professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois said the best way to sum up what we know now about the universe is, “We are all made of stardust.” This conclusion is recent and an incredible discovery to realize we came from the stars. Every molecule in our bodies at one time was a part of the vast expanse we call the cosmos. Science has been used for creating many incredible technologies, but what it has the capability to do is put us in awe of all of life. To be in wonder and amazement is quite an experience we as humans can all appreciate. To reflect upon the world and cosmos we live in and be awed by it. In this moment we are 13.7 billions years in the making, something certainly worth celebrating.
We are each cosmic beings, not just human beings. Knowing what we know now through science we can create a cosmology that reflects this knowledge and can begin a new way of existing as humans that bring us into alignment with not only our planet, but the entire cosmos. I recently heard the authors of The New Universe and the Human Future, Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel Primack, speak and I think they sum this up quite perfectly with telling us to “Eat locally, act globally, and think cosmically.” There really isn’t any other way to be a part of this beautiful experience of universing.