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Where do 'I' begin and end?

By Charlie Badenhop

You are invited to explore the boundaries of "self" and gain a new perspective on how all of life needs to be included in your definition of "I".

Today, I am inviting you to explore the boundaries of "self." I ask you to ponder where "I" begin and end. What is part of "me" and what is outside of "me"? What is "you" and what is "me"? What is "us" and what is "them"? If I was to show you a picture of "me" standing in a crowded room of friends and family, and ask you to draw a line around "me" how would you do so? Would you simply draw an oval encompassing my frame from head to foot? What if I showed you a picture of me out in nature. Would you draw a line around "me" taking in as little sky as possible?

When you think of "your self" does your definition of self include sunlight, potable water, food, a certain range of temperature and humidity, and air to breathe? Most likely you don't think of your "self" in quite this manner, but why not? If any of these all important elements are not present, "you" will soon cease to exist. You can't live without sunlight and water, but sunlight and water can live without you! Man needs nature. Man's very life depends on nature. But nature does not need or depend on man for life. Unless we say in this modern day and age, that nature depends on man to not destroy it, and man so often seems like he could care less.

When we say that an action/corporation/product is ecological we refer to how it supports the interdependence of all living organisms within an environment, which is itself a living organism. When we destroy any part of our natural environment we destroy a part of ourselves, because our personal ecology is fully dependent on the ecology of the natural elements that surrounds us.

I ask you again, "Can you live without potable water, oxygen, food, and sunlight? Can you live if the temperature and humidity of the earth's atmosphere was to change by more than about 15% on average? Can you live without depending on the natural elements for your life? Why is it that people in the industrialized world tend to label as "primitive" those cultures that teach that man and nature are inseparable, when indeed this is the case?

All of life requires an ecology, a balance, a conservative and corrective interplay between elements and energies. Every living system needs to be able to self correct, and every living system depends on elements outside of "itself" in order to maintain "itself." None of us live as separate entities depending only on our own will and intelligence.

Lately most human beings tend to treat the natural environment as a disposable item like a paper napkin or a pair of shoes. We use nature as a convenience item, or we use nature as a way to make money, and then we move on when we deplete the natural resources in a given area. Some people even treat their relationships with other people in a similar manner, and it is not all that surprising, if you really think that "me" is fully contained inside the boundaries of your own body.

When we disrespect nature we disrespect and misunderstand "me." When we are confused about who and what "me" is, it is that much easier to disrespect and misunderstand others. Just like human beings, no country is separate and complete unto itself. I hope that we will come to understand that caring for nature means caring for "me." That caring about "me" means caring about you. That caring about my country means caring about your country. That caring about "us", adds to the quality of all of life.


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