DENIM SPIRIT: Just like a cat…or a sea slug
This column first appeared in The Finger Lakes Times, May 11, 2016 and was posted at www.cameronmiller.org.
A fluff of down chances to light upon the center of a pond, and as it lands, it sends the water rippling in silent reflections of light and color all the way to the edge of the water. Likewise the influence of our small, ordinary, and insignificant little lives ripple across time and space like radio waves to distances we can never even imagine.
That is the nature of the Cosmos, and it isn’t even spooky or supernatural. It is just how things in the universe are made.
We know for example, that within us is the stuff of stars — literally on a very elemental level we are composed of stardust shed like dry skin from the substance of stars as they were dying. We are as intimately connected to events that took place a billion years ago and millions of miles away as we are to the exquisitely intimate ecosystem we call Earth connecting us all together in this distinct time and space.
On the biological stage we know that while our social relationships are constructed on assumptions of great differences between people and other animals, our biological differences are roughly 3 percent to our 97 percent of commonness. In other words, biologically we are far more similar to one another, and even to a pig, cat, or sea slug, than we are different. We focus on the differences but if we fully appreciated how biologically the same we are we would live in shock and awe.
We lock ourselves into hardened borders that exist only in our imagination.
The borders between race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, and generation are social constructs hardened around small differences but potentially softened by astounding similarities and shared experiences. While the differences are real and also to be acknowledged, celebrated, and understood, they are vastly less meaningful in the larger scheme of things than our extreme commonness.
The physics of the universe, the construction of life on Earth, is interdependence and the relationship of intimacy between all things. The whole rhythm of Creation is in its rippling and touching, weaving and mingling; and so shared, common, and integrated is it that we can easily imagine hardened borders exist only in fantasy.
Yet our social, political, and religious constructions work to confine us within our own family; trap us within our own race, class, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality; hold us within the dictates of our own political ideology or loyalty; limit us to our own kind, what kind that is. To live within hardened borders is unnatural to say the least, and self-destructive even under the best of circumstances.
The far-flung intimacy of the Cosmos, and the supreme interdependence of the global ecosystem we call Earth, would be well for us to remember this presidential season as the hounds of hardened borders unleash their terrible wail. Discovering holes in our differences in order to explore our commonness is a strategy for sustainability, and for greater joyfulness as well.