23. Interdependence of Personal and Planetary Wellness
When the air in cities becomes so toxic that allergic and sensitive individuals must wear masks and eye shields, there is trouble afoot. When major segments of a population can no longer trust the quality of the local water and resort to using their own filtration systems or buying bottled water, it’s time for some serious reevaluation of priorities.
In Greek mythology, the earth was seen as our mother and was called Gaia. The hypothesis that Gaia is a living entity, a single organism, was first suggested by Johannes Kepler hundreds of years ago. James Lovelock developed that concept further in Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. Observing that our planet has systems that closely regulate temperature, oxygen concentration, and at least twenty other variables, Lovelock reasoned that the earth is much more than a hunk of rock with different species of plants and animals living on it. Rather, he proposed that it is a whole system made up of many smaller systems, including humankind.
There is no precise point at which the mind stops and the body starts. Similarly, there is no place where the individual stops and the environment starts, and vice versa. The nuclear accident at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union affected the agriculture of the entire European continent. We are all interdependent. People no longer have the luxury of thinking of themselves as belonging to separate nations. Just as you cannot expect to find healthy fish in a polluted pond, you cannot expect to remain a healthy human being when you’re breathing polluted air, eating devitalized food, and watching the earth being stripped of her resources. Wellness is an illusion if there is no commitment to the health of the whole planet.
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