A Global Society Seen as a Flower
Yurts at Poncha Pass - Colorado Yurt Rentals and Sustainable Building Workshops - Photo of Chris in ground of Earthship

Written by Chris

July 7, 2009

            Lying in a field of grasses and sedges up the Sydney inlet, a perfect stillness surrounds me in this remote estuary on the west coast of Vancouver Island north of Tofino. Only reachable by a two-hour boat ride, I wait for my pickup. The afternoon has been spent studying the estuary system where fresh and salt-water meet, creating a rich feeding ground for both creatures from land and in the fresh, salt-water mixture. Among these tall sedges and grasses that reach for the sky, hiding me from view of anyone nearby, I see tiny purple flowers sprouting out of the ground where they might have a chance to attract a bee or butterfly, a pollinator of sorts.

            I think back to a plant physiology class and realize that these little plants and I have a lot more in common than I think. For me to even have made it out this far, I was dependent on a structured system of transit, safety, and education… in essence society. I may have been able to do one or the other, but all would have taken me a far greater deal of time than this week I get to spend in the Coastal Temperate Rainforest. The division of labor has allowed me not to be concerned at present with the finding of food as it was brought in with me on this excursion, nor with how I will get home or where I will sleep tonight. As such, our society has divided the task of living among so many individual parts, the whole breathes as one, but the individual relies on many. Just like this little flower as it develops. Different genes are turned on in different cells growing new and differently specialized cells, soon rendering unique cells with a specific purpose. At the tip, they become petals, carpals, stamens, and ovaries. Leaves shooting off the stem create the energy needed allowing the flower to blossom and are in turn supplied by water from the xylem, where root cells pull it from the ground. In exchange for water, the leaves send sugars down the phloem creating the perfect symbiotic relationship within this small-consorted effort.

            As the division between cells grows and yet still working together to create a perfect tiny purple and white flower. From our greater society, we have in essence created our own flower of sorts seen in the skyscrapers we build, the art and music we create, and knowledge of our surroundings we accumulate and amass through books, Internet, and spoken word. So inherently, it seems as if both the cell and humanity alike push for a more complex way to express life, perhaps the fundamental characteristic of life itself.

But just like this flower, there lies an unequivocal risk or gamble one might say. If a gene mutates in the stem, the xylem may not develop…the whole flower may not grow.  If there is a break down in the production of food in the heartland, many may not eat. We are dependent, like the cells of a plant… on each other more than we, as individuals will ever know. It becomes ever more evident each day in our shrinking world, that the actions of those in the Middle East, Africa, or Greater Asia are equally important to me as those of my physical neighbors in North America, perhaps greatest exemplified by the emerging climate change issue that faces us all.

Equally so, a mutation in the petal gene once upon a time created many more than one layer of petals originally designed giving rise to a new flower called the rose. Individuals such as Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Koffe Onon striking against the norm of the system and their times brought about new ideas of freedom, love, and forgiveness. Looking at this simple flower without a person in sight, I feel more connected to the world and everyone in it then ever before. We may live for ourselves, our families, and perhaps friends; like a single leaf performing a united task. However in essence, when one looks at the whole, we live for each other reflecting a global society, as that of a flower.

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