The Language of Separation

I saw this sign in Montreal recently, & want to talk about why rhetoric like this is so problematic.

Humans and nature are not on a collision course – because humans are not separate from nature. We never have been and never can be.

Language like this implies that somehow we are separate, and feeds into the very paradigm of domination (man v wild / ‘man was giveth dominion’ / humans & the ‘natural’ world) that is at the root of the climate crisis.

The separation of humans from the more-than-human world is what has fed extraction, separation and colonialism for centuries.

There’s no collision ahead of us. There’s no ‘one moment’ of climate change, as the language implies. And there’s also no world in which we flourish, and the land around us suffers.

It might seem pernickety to care about language here – there’s more important things to focus on right?

But language shapes our understanding of the world. For each sentence we read we unconsciously absorb layers of meaning behind it.

Language that separates us is a symptom of the disease, and fails to understand the level of healing we actually require: an end to the paradigm of separation.

Other similar toxic ideas that get thrown around: “humans don’t deserve…”, “the Earth will be better without humans…”

The problems we face don’t stem from our humanity, they stem from our systems: from capitalism, neocolonialism and a mindset that sees us as separate and in opposition to everything around us.

Until we heal that mindset in ourselves and our communities, we will continue to recreate it in our wider systems.

So today, I invite you to take a few moments outside.

Put your feet on the grass.

Feel the air on your skin.

Take a few deep breath and remember that we are nature.

Ask yourself from this space: where am I being called to act? And what is my next best step in that direction?

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