Ecology and Us
"We are facing a true planetary emergency. It is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity," former Vice President Al Gore dramatically stated when he accepted his Noble Peace Prize.
But once the curtain came down on the glimmering award ceremony, a question arose: Will our increasing environmental awareness save us from the ecological crisis?
To take control over the ecological crisis, we must first understand its underlying causes by examining Nature and its systems.
Researchers of natural systems in physics, biology, chemistry and other sciences have learned that all of Nature's components exist in constant balance. These elements are so interconnected and interdependent that harming even the smallest detail can throw the entire system off balance.
Monkeys Know Best
The secret to Nature's balance is the reciprocal concern among all of its parts. This reciprocal concern is most evident in the animal kingdom: from insects and mammals that clearly show care for one another, such as ants, bees, monkeys and elephants, to the simplest microbes inside our bodies, which help each other find iron compounds. Researchers have discovered that sharing exists among the vegetative species, and even inanimate particles perform mutual actions to sustain the object they form.
Dr. Jane Goodall, who dedicated her life to studying chimpanzees in their natural habitats, summarized her extensive experience of living in Nature: "I found that which has been described as the peace beyond all understanding, and if we are to feel peace in the world today, that is the peace we must aim for to carry within us."
Man vs. Nature
Unlike all other creatures, humans continually disturb the perfect balance of Nature's systems. They exploit the environment, take pleasure in the suffering of others, and raise themselves on others' ruins. Indeed, we are not always conscious of our actions. But in Nature, ignorance of the law does not exempt one from the penalty.
Whether we realize it or not, we are integral parts of Nature. Hence, when we treat our environment egoistically and try to exploit it, we bring about imbalance in the whole system.
In response, Nature does everything possible to rebalance its systems. Its response is automatic, just like when the pressure increases in the earth's core to such an extent that the external layer of the earth can no longer sustain it, and a volcano erupts.
While minerals, plants and animals are instinctively driven to maintain the natural balance, man has the unique opportunity to be balanced with Nature by free choice. This is man's special role in Nature. Should we independently choose to balance ourselves with Nature, we will rise to a new level of existence and experience the perfection that abounds in Nature.
The Ecological Crisis Is Merely a Symptom
The ecological problems we see are only symptoms indicating that we are out of balance with Nature. To solve the ecological crisis, we need to learn the laws operating in Nature and implement the same principles in our society.
In other words, we have to carry out the general law of Nature, on the human level. This means adopting Nature's principle of reciprocity and concern for one another.
Does this mean that all people are supposed to care for each other's needs? Yes, it does sound utopian. In fact, in today's world, anything besides love among human beings seems to make sense to us: violence, crime, drug abuse, depression, suicide, poverty and segregation are all considered routine and likely to happen. Even though we do not encourage any of these ills, we do see them as the inevitable "side-effects" of our lives, right?
Wrong. In fact, all of the above are completely unnatural.
Nature is impeccable and works in prefect harmony. All the problems in the world come from our incongruence with Nature's laws. Because we don't realize that we are an integral part of Nature, we tend to think that our egoistic attitude to each other is unrelated to problems such as the ecological crisis. In practice, however, everything we do affects every level of Nature, including the ecology.
Our disregard for the environment goes hand in hand with our disregard for each other. Hence, we cannot really try to correct our dealings with the environment while ignoring our dealings with each other.
Al Gore's sincere call to the world to wake up and face our environmental challenge is definitely important. But to realize it, we need a method that will enable us to reveal Nature's complete picture, and that will allow us to find balance with all of its elements, including one another.
In their books, Kabbalists spell out precisely such a method. They describe a step-by-step path that leads to real, positive change. This change starts by correcting our relations with each other and leads to perfection in every realm of our lives.