An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of May 12, 2007
issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve Headquarters in
Jalpan, Querétaro, MÉXICO

NATURAL PARADIGMS

More can be said about David W. Orr's remarks profiled in last week's Newsletter. He wrote:

"... our experience of the world is being impoverished to the extent that it is rendered artificial and prepackaged..."

Further:

"Because we cannot think clearly what we cannot say clearly, the first casualty of linguistic incoherence is our ability to think well about many things."

During this week's livestock-trail walk through robin family aggregations, the above thoughts juggled in my mind until I came up with a reformulation of those ideas: I believe that the loss of our ability to think well about many things derives from our society's loss of contact with Nature.

For, all complex systems, be they the planetary biosphere, free-market economics, the field of geometry, or any other elaborate arrangement, are structured upon certain paradigms. I use the term paradigm in the sense of one of its meanings, which is "a set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them."

For example, free market philosophy is based on the paradigm of supply and demand. Geometry survives on the paradigm of there being a fixed system of relationships among points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids.

But, free-market societies obsessively focused on financial investment and return fall apart when disenfranchised people make revolution, destroying the production means. Geometry loses its ability to predict relationships among points, lines, angles, surfaces and solids when matter approaches the speed of light. In fact, it seems to me that the paradigms of all complex systems, save one, eventually fail when those systems mature into their pure states.

The one complex system whose paradigms do not fail is Nature. Of all complex, real-world systems in the human experience, only Nature has proven to be truly sustainable, to be based on truly dependable paradigms.

Yet, people choose to harmonize their lives with paradigms other than Nature's. They live according to political theories, religious doctrines, local systems of mores and social practices -- despite history showing that all such systems of belief are ephemeral. They may seem comfortable and expedient for the moment, but eventually they always cause suffering and destruction, if only because they fail to change sufficiently in an always fast-evolving world.

Yet, who is bothering to identify and recognize as sacred Nature's paradigms? A few of Nature's paradigms are so obvious that even I can make them out:

# recycling
# mutual dependency among all parts
# continual evolution

Returning to those Clay-colored thoughts, another way to articulate them is this:

Not experiencing Nature, we remain ignorant of Her paradigms. Lacking Her paradigms, we cannot think well about many things. Facebook Icon.