• Janna Zonder

The Earth Is A Sentient Being


It has occurred to me several times in the last few tumultuous years that the biggest mistake we humans are making is to view our planet as something apart from us. We see it as our home, as if it exists to be remodeled, torn down, or sold like an inanimate object existing solely for our benefit.


But, what if we are not separate from the earth at all? What if we exist like cells, complex intact sparks of life that are fully integrated into the system of a whole living, breathing being? What if we are simply a minuscule part of the body of the world. We are important, as all cells within our own bodies are, but no more important than the other species of cells. We have a limited lifetime. On any given day, we are expendable for the greater good of the body.


Our planet is showing the same signs of distress that my own body shows when it gets out of balance. My body sends heat in the form of fever to kill infections that pose a threat to my life. Diseased parts of my body sometimes need cauterization from a doctor. How different is that from the fires out west? Instead of viruses, think overpopulation, pollution, and deforestation. When I get something in my eye, my body flushes it with fluid. Our coastlines are becoming practically uninhabitable because of the volatility of the weather. Storms blow in and wash away whole communities. Rain floods inland states like Tennessee and pours through the subways of New York City. Does it have anything to do with our poor stewardship of land and resources? Tornadoes regularly spin into communities and rearrange the terrain, reminding me of a thyroid storm, an indication of a system completely out of whack and trying to right itself.


We like to think of the earth as our Mother. It's a lovely thought, but it puts the earth at a distance. The earth is us, and we are the earth. We bring about degradation of the planet by pummeling its surfaces with explosions, filling the atmosphere with poisons as we blast away at our enemies. We extract precious metals, jewels, raw energy, until everything is depleted, and then we move on, leaving gaping cancerous holes. We continue to follow religious leaders, desperate to keep their power bases intact, who tell us that we have a responsibility to produce more children than the earth can sustain.


All of us need water. All of us need breathable air. We will die, and our planet will die, without them. The illness the earth is experiencing may have been a preventable disease. I hope it is also a curable disease. By continuing to poison our atmosphere, by being unwilling to share and conserve vital resources, by being too lazy, or too greedy, to look for solutions to contaminants like plastics and fossil fuels, we put ourselves at grave risk.


I believe there is no separation between our planet and us. I believe we are one body, one system, with all beings interdependent. I don't know if my beliefs are correct. If they're not and the earth is instead our Mother, she is trying in every way possible to send us a message that she is in terrible distress. If we don't get that message, like any strong mother, she will kick us out of the house.


And she would be justified in doing so.

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