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Eco-Existence: From Anthropocene to Symbiocene

"Where are the bees?" is asking me 4-year-old Henry. Where are the bees? I shake into the core of my bones as I feel into the daunting answer.

In this modern age, it has become increasingly evident that our beautiful home, Earth, is facing a “not so silent anymore” crisis. I feel it in my bones more and more as seasons pass, and the unfolding of global events is making it impossible to ignore.

I have also come to a profound realization – the decline of pollinators, insects, birds, tree diversity, clean rivers, clean air, rich soils, and unpolluted rainfall is casting a dark shadow over the delicate balance of nature. And it breaks my heart. Deeply.

Like a house with rooms engulfed in flames, flooded by rampant waters, and polluted by our own actions, our planet teeters on the edge of collapse. We all share this abode, and the challenges faced in one corner of our world reverberate throughout its entirety, threatening the very foundations of that house.

I remember as a child the buzzing symphony of pollinators painted the skies, their vibrant dance in perfect harmony. Nowadays, a haunting silence fills the air, as insects vanish, and bird populations decline. I see it with my own eyes as a land caretaker, as a lover of all life. This year the decline is so evident that many of our pollinator gardens have less than half of their buzzing friends.

The intricate ecological web that sustains us weakens, tugging at the threads that bind our existence. The loss of tree diversity further mirrors our concerning predicament. Majestic sentinels, standing tall and proud, once provided shelter, oxygen, and a sanctuary for countless species. Yet, deforestation, climate change, and human encroachment have left these guardians trembling. Our connection to ancient wisdom wanes as each tree falls, diminishing our chances of restoring equilibrium.

Water, the essence of life, reflects the state of our planet. Rivers, once pure and bountiful, now carry the burdens of pollution and neglect. These veins of life, once a testament to pristine landscapes, now mirror the chaos we have unleashed upon them. The unpolluted rainfall, once a source of cleansing and revitalization, carries with it the weight of our actions with every single rainfall across the globe filled with microplastics and forever chemicals. As we are harming the waters, refusing to process our collective grief, the water spirits are upset, angry, and showing us their fury.

In the confines of our interconnected existence, some still live sheltered lives, oblivious to the suffering of others. Privilege blinds them to the struggles faced by those dwelling in the room of that shared house plagued by environmental challenges. Yet, it is crucial to understand that the hardships experienced in one room will inevitably penetrate the sanctity of others. As all of this is touching not just “the others” but the very foundation our house relies on. We are all inhabitants of this shared home, and its collapse will spare no one.

I do not want to fall into the doom and gloom mindset, nor do I want to avoid the necessary deep pain of confronting the reality of this unfolding. I own this capacity to feel for all my relations, my children, and my creator.

Now, more than ever, we must unite and draw upon the wisdom of the ages. It is through unity that we shall find strength. By seeking common ground and embracing empathy, we can bridge gaps and foster compassion for the plight of all living beings.

It is more than ever time to listen to the wisdom keepers of the Earth, the Native populations around the globe who have foreseen and warned us about the consequences of our blinded and unregulated capitalistic, forever growth mindset. It is more than ever time to learn and dive deep into those ancient ways of healing that are always inviting us to allow the deep unresolved trauma to be healed, and the veils of mankind's illusionary ego superiority to be dissolved.

We need to turn away from the Anthropocene towards the Symbiocene (from the word “symbiosis”, living together for mutual benefit), a vision centered on all life where we as humans sit in a circle with all our other relations in a true council of all beings as beautifully crafted by Joanna Macy and her lifelong endeavor of the “work that reconnects”.

The barriers that separate us must be dismantled, and we must recognize the inherent value in every form of life. Through education, awareness, and adopting sustainable practices, we can pave the way for a brighter future. Ultimately, we truly need to stop avoiding and dismissing clear evidence of our demise, as if we keep fearing death, we will inevitably lose this battle for life.

Our path forward demands an unwavering commitment to preserving the sanctity of our home. Together, as individuals, communities, and nations, we can be agents of change. Let us heed the call to safeguard the pollinators, revive biodiversity, protect forests, reduce consumption, stop participating in systems of greed and oppression, conserve water sources, and embrace sustainable practices. In this united effort, we shall transform our dying house into a sanctuary of resilience and harmony. We shall foresee that Nirvana and paradise can be here and now.

To me the urgency of our mission is clear. May we draw inspiration from the timeless wisdom of our ancestors and native elders as we embark on this transformative journey.

It is only through individual radical responsibility, discipline, and action, guided by empathy and understanding, that we shall sow the seeds of change. Let us preserve the foundations of our house and usher in an era where balance and kinship prevail. Together, we can ensure a thriving future, where every corner of our precious home flourishes in harmony for generations to come and for everyone living in this precious home, we call Earth.

Angell Deer

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