That we have come to think of ourselves as separate from nature shines through when we say “let me take a walk in nature,” or when we refer to nature as “outside.” And of course it shines through in how we treat nature – we have not been kind to it lately. As a society we have come to view ourselves as superior to nature, as separate from nature; we dominate and control nature, and “use” it for our enrichment. I believe this behavior arose from disassociation and fear – what indigenous person would fear nature? How absurd, they live with it, in it, as part of it, from it. We Westerners of industrialized nations need to relearn to live with it, understand it, be kind to it, embrace it, and work with it.
What is “nature” actually? The 1970s gave rise to the idea of the Gaia principle, the idea of earth as one enormously complex organism that encompasses everything from rocks and rivers, to plants and minerals, animals and humans. While the Gaia principle excludes elements outside of planet earth (the planets, the cosmos) it is a step in the right direction of a more encompassing understanding of our embeddedness in earth. Native American Chief Seattle supposedly said something like “whatever you do to the web you do to yourself.” We are part of nature, we are nature just as much as trees, mushrooms, mice, wales, clouds, the sun, or our consciousness. And because We Are Nature we need to relearn to honor it, and we need to learn responsible stewardship of it and ourselves as part of this enormous and intricate web.