Life on earth is interconnected with one another. Over one million species have been observed and recorded on our planet. These species live among one another using and adapting, over generations, their own personal niches to obtain advantages for a higher percentage survival rate. The competition between the diverse organisms balances out the ecosystems and creates an environment that exhibits organic life. As the Western World’s daily lifestyles exclude raw nature, our perception are influenced by one another’s thoughts and observations instead of learning with and from the intricacies of the biological world; which I now see as safety factors for our conscious minds.
As our perceptions neglect this raw and dependent natural interaction, which is intrinsic to life on earth, we simply do not perceive or experience all of what life has to offer. We are not even influenced; to collectively acknowledge the negative impacts our way of life yields on the natural environment. To me, this is the reason why the sustainability of Earth remains insignificant to main stream society.
My series, inspired by Henry David Thoreau, is an inquiry into the basic curiosities of mankind, what is life, how ought we live, and simply why are we here? Thoreau, was one of a kind, he was casting a warning to our society, he was not selfish, but selfless, he meticulously learned from the universe, and he was ignored. Thoreau saw the opportunity in a simple life, “to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if [he] could not learn what it had to teach [him]” (Walden). To live and learn, to open our minds, to be quiet, to experience the natural dynamics of life, to simply listen to the birds, are a few lessons from Henry David Thoreau, that we should all consider. In general, Thoreau confronts a world that does not make its decisions based on the deep and helpful wisdom that is available to us through works of art and philosophy, that have been handed down through the ages. The nations of the world today are making changes based on the motives of becoming a “world power” instead of making changes that would improve their citizen’s lives, for example. And even then, they are misguided, when they make “internal improvements, which, by the way are all external and superficial. A modern day example is that we have improved our technologies exponentially, but we are still destroying our only planet. We must improve our minds, to understand what is life, to be the fuel behind the use of technology. We are more connected to mechanical devices than we are to life and even our intimate Self, and this must change, if we want our species to test the limits of time. We must become intimate with ourselves, so we can truly be a positive force in this universe, our next step is to make our citizenry more aware or conscious of itself, and then to sense the intrinsic connection we all have with the universe.
“Men think that it is essential that the Nation have commerce, and export ice, and talk through a telegraph and ride thirty miles an hour....they find it necessary that they should fly across the earth at the speed of a bird, but this is unnecessary. They would not need to, if they would just stay at home." In most ways, Thoreau is a radical stating that the improvements of society do not improve the lives of the individual, but are only materialistic improvements and thus irrelevant to philosophy—and true happiness, and ultimately, to the elevation of mankind. My response to this is that once we realized how vast the universe is, the unimaginable speed at which galaxies are traveling, why do we find the need to move distances that only seem vast to our relative and immature perspective? Life has dominated the physical and spatial realm over time to evolve our mental capabilities. Do we have these abilities, to just observe the universe that brought us into existence or to genuinely live the experience of life through trial and error. To simply learn life from living. It just seems rather inefficient and even egotistical for the universe to evolve minds to study itself; well, to me of course. I may be a bit of a radical, as well. My only hope is to further the direction of mankind, before I die.
Materialistic improvements are made within the physical world and seem to take importance over evolving the individual’s mind, as intelligence and knowledge expand with time. The school system in America constructs many materialistic modifications that do not actually improve the knowledge, in the individual student, which should be the reason for education. An example of this would be if a school paid for a new library, but did not get new books; the material building improved but the capacity of knowledge within the library, remains unaffected.
Thoreau’s radical observation of society’s goals makes him come to the conclusion that “it is time that villages were universities” (Walden). I understood this as, our society’s goal should be to learn and expand the knowledge of its citizenry to the community, instead of working to become individually rich, beautiful, and successful in the world our eyes perceive. We should not be educating our kids in systems that ask for the ability to retain information to pass the next test. Our education system should teach the student to critically think and grow their autonomy. Our youth should be taught how to genuinely use their minds, to develop the ability to connect information between the varying aspects of life, for the creation of their own personal wisdom. Basically, I interpreted Thoreau’s quote to be radical and that society should be flourishing through individuality, creativity, and the expansion of knowledge, just like the atmosphere of universities. I understood Thoreau’s quote to mean society should be one giant community, with every individual trying to continuously grow and expand their minds for the greater good of the whole.
“While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them” (Walden). Thoreau makes a strong statement that brings up an interesting point of view. Western society seems to be living to create an image of happiness and perfection in the external world. Thoreau believes this lifestyle to be hindering society’s overall growth of mental perceptions of life and reality itself. He states that the houses within civilization have improved tremendously, but the men who live in them have remained static. Throughout my life, I have noticed that my neighbors will go to town hall with a vengeance—to fix potholes that cause disturbance to their daily routines. Yet they ignore the homeless man on the corner, who suffers in front of them daily. I find this to be a red flag that people regularly take action on fixing a road more often than they demand help for a suffering human being.
Are we seeing life or even reality in a coherent way? If we are not, are we losing an innate learning tool for ourselves, by separating away from the environment that evolved our wondering minds? Can we really obtain knowledge by listening to the natural world? Humanity is a small subsection of the natural world now and a mere sliver in the history of time. These are inquiries I will dive into, in later Parts of Cabin to Reality. At the present time, I find our species to be on the tipping point. However, this could be seen as a positive, as long as one can acknowledge that in times of despair, we have the most room to grow and strengthen our resiliency as an individual, a community, and as a species. I am applying my philosophy above, to my concussion recovery, to simply become a stronger, more thoughtful, and just a more well-rounded individual during my extended recovery time.
If you want to know how my concussion recovery is going, check out my website MyConcussionRecovery.com or if you have any ideas that will help me, please contact me! Also, comment below if you have questions or philosophical arguments against anything I believe. My only desire is to be proved wrong so I can be more correct tomorrow.
Published by Patrick Bridgman