Jan. 17, 2014: We Are All Related, by Virginia Rhys Anson, OFS

January 17, 2014 by

WEB-GinnyAnsonMUGMitakuye Oyasin!  We are all related!

As this Lakota cry proclaims, all entities in nature — the colossal and the minuscule — are created by a great, mysterious God with a tender, fatherly love. We are all creatures interwoven within our earth, within our universe — suns, planets, animals, plants, humans. We are all related.

The foraging deer nibbling and scarring an autumnal elm.  The brigade of lumberjacks felling acres of rainforest trees.  The blue jay chirping its assumed supremacy over its winged cousins.  The smooth-faced boulder embedded in the side of a hill.  The poacher removing tusks from a freshly slain elephant.  The wolf pack howling in chorus beneath Sister Moon.  All are formed in the palm of our Loving God.  We are all His creatures.  We are all related.

Yet who am I in this relationship?  Surely I cannot be related. I am, after all, a human being. I am not like other animals and surely not like the pebble that lies in the riverbed. I am far too intelligent to be one of them. I am far too superior.

Who am I but a creature who exists for only a fraction of the years that the mammoth redwood sees, who has only a fraction of the eyesight of the sparrow hawk, who possesses a minute fraction of the agility of the squirrel?

Does it seem farfetched to say that human beings are related to the earthworm?  Worms are such small, insignificant animals, only good for fishing and fertilizing gardens.

Such is the dilemma of human thought, which is oft times too self-absorbed to recognize that no creature is insignificant. Each is given a role to fulfill within its particular ecosystem. Each was molded and sculpted by the same Great Creator — God, Our Almighty Father. We are all part of the web of life, and the lives of humans are interconnected with those of animals and plants. The human species exists commingled with all of creation.

Still, who am I in the relationship that is nature?  I am but a creature with the intelligence to nurture or harm my Mother Earth. What I do to nature has a ripple effect throughout creation. Some ripples are nurturing — planting trees for eagles to nest, recycling so as to spare nature’s reserves, clearing aquatic debris for the safe passage of fish. Too many, quite tragically, are not so life affirming. My cutting down one tree may create merely a nano-ripple, but deforestation becomes a mega-ripple, destroying ecosystems and species, thus endangering the creation that depends on forests — from the awarra tree, to the macaw, to insects and on throughout the ecological chain.

Human beings are privileged among God’s creatures. We are divinely charged with overseeing God’s masterpiece. Our Creator has placed us above our flora and fauna brothers and sisters. But not above with the intent that we will dominate and use nature for our selfish whims. Above, instead, as stewards and caretakers honored with the responsibility of using our great discretion to protect nature in her entirety.

Our plant and animal brothers and sisters, although quite capable of surviving in their own realms, depend on humans to allow them to survive as God intended and depend on us to protect and heal their ecosystems. With this responsibility comes the power to make choices — right or wrong, holistic or harmful.

God gave his human creatures powers and intelligence far beyond those granted to plants and other animals. We are the only creatures on Earth that can elect to care for nature or to destroy her. And if we destroy her, we destroy ourselves. We are all related.

Our planet, Earth, is not merely an object of dirt and rock orbiting around the sun. She is Mother Earth. The Lakota tell us that she is a living being with a spirit. Just as my human mother gave me life and the milk of her breast to sustain me, so my Mother Earth gives me life and the vitamins, water, and minerals that I need in order to live. I do not claim dominance over our planet Earth. How can I be greater than the entity on which I depend for my very existence?  How can I not live in accord with my life support system?

God created all entities on Earth and in the universe in harmonious synchronization. Each tree, each meerkat, each planet, each quark — each piece of nature — yearns to exist in harmony within the Great Creator’s design, for each can do not the contrary. Just as water seeks equilibrium, so does all of nature seek balance. Humanity is, sadly, the only species that uses its intelligence, desire, and ability to disrupt this natural orchestra, to exist outside of nature’s balance.

Humans are not separate beings living side-by-side with nature. We are a part of nature. We are one with her. We are all related through God’s intricate intertwining creative process. It is ludicrous, given this divinely ordained relatedness, that there should be animosity between peoples and that there should be so little respect for and care given to our Mother Earth — our life-support system.

“Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life;
he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

— Chief Seattle

Humanity, do you hear me?

Mitakuye Oyasin!  We are all related!

— Virginia Anson is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order. She is a freelance writer, technical editor and author of a monthly online nature column, “Meandering along the River’s Edge,” for Catholic Stewards of Creation Newsletter.






Feel free to leave a comment...