Nations And Nature

All flags wave in the winds of nature

American Flag

Aside from the symbolism represented by the stars and stripes, the American flag standing against the sky speaks to me of the contrast between nations and nature, and how the former are dependent upon the latter.

The flag, most flags, symbolize a people, a group characterized by the things they hold in common, typically their history, values and aspirations. So far, nations represent the largest social structure on the planet. As complex and dynamic as these entities are, their survival and development largely depends upon the establishment and nurturing of mutually beneficial and amicable relations with other such entities—and nature.

Current events indicate that the leaders of many nations, particularly those based on radical fundamentalist ideologies, have not yet come to terms with this, the result being warfare and acts of terrorism. I think we’re witnessing the death throes of the paradigms of both separation and male dominance. At this stage of global evolution I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that nations are still learning how to live and work together collaboratively, internally and externally, in order to create mutual growth and prosperity for all while maintaining the integrity and sustainability of the planet.

Amidst this transformation in consciousness, nature is providing another, perhaps even shorter-term and more vital lesson, this one having to do with the quality of life for everyone; eventually the survival of nations. Climate change.

No nation can stand without healthy citizens. And health requires clean air, appropriately filtered sunlight, an abundance of clean water, sustainable forests and non-polluted, fertile soils to produce food. To keep the flags of nations waving then, it’s not enough for individuals to seek their own health. They—we—must also do what we can to maintain the health of the nation.

In the United States of America, a principle way to do this is by electing representatives who understand that the conservation and preservation of the environment is a survival issue for our children, grandchildren and for the nation. In a very real sense, the flag in this photograph—and the flags of all nations—stand on the pedestal of nature.

Some argue that measures to respond to the changing climate is too costly. But that cost will pale in comparison to the cost of lives lost, property destroyed, species loss, towns and cities impacted by flood, fire and other natural disasters. History has shown, the size, wealth and power of civilizations and nations does not shield them from the awesome, unmanageable forces of nature.

The American flag is a symbol that reflects the ideals of the founding fathers. It will stand and endure only so long as we enact those ideals as a united community. As far back as Aesop and his fables we were cautioned: “United we stand, divided we fall.”

We are all here together, at once, at the service of and at the mercy of nature, each other, and our daily acts.

Paul Hawken, Environmentalist and entrepreneur


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