Solnit captured the essence of how we move in the direction of Respect, ultimately Love of Nature. Biologists, anthropologists and spiritual leaders alike can offer plenty of examples of how mutual, reciprocal behaviors can benefit both the individual and the “other.” Her words nudge us to move in the best direction for our species, all species. From listening and respect to Justice and Love.
“The mainstream of American society has, from its inception, been built on silencing and strategic exclusion, on not hearing who and what mounts up to the majority of us.” I fear the transgressions were more severe – strategic, violent exploitation was part of our history. The good news is that exploitation of BIPOC has diminished from earlier days and humanity is waking up to the needless violence we are committing against Nature. We have done some listening and learning. And with the wider understanding and condemnation of the violence that has been done, we can move toward Respect for all. We can keep moving, we can practice listening, we can grow our Respect and, hopefully, we can bend the arc toward Love.
It is helpful to be very deliberate about the practice of active listening. There are many good websites with readily understood techniques for the practice. The key is to set reminders, cues that you will use to remember the techniques in exchanges with people and Nature; tricks that will keep you from defaulting to old habits. Initially it can be a challenge to bring your best listening self to a connection with the other but do not give up. During the pandemic we are often afforded a chance to listen in an online gathering. The restrictions of the medium can actually be employed to keep the techniques in mind and to practice, practice practice. Social distancing sometimes leaves Natural Areas as the only place to be outside in relative safety. Often it is a time to mull over ones own thoughts but take some time to listen, listen through the background of urban life. Hear the whispers and the song of the living world. Feel your part in the ecosystem. Absorb its wisdom.