Practicing Humility

As a species, we’re in our infancy. Our time on this planet is brief compared to some of the millions of species that appeared eons before we took up residency. And there have been other dominant species before us: the dinosaurs, and the massive mammals that evolved after their extinction.

However, the end of our dominance won’t likely come in the form of a new species or a cataclysmic event — our demise seems destined to come at our own hand. In our rise to supremacy, we have lost touch with the lessons of the past, and are ignoring those that surround us today.

Species with ancestry much older than ours will teach us volumes if we just open our eyes. But that’s difficult for us humans, especially those whose Judeo-Christian teachings tell us that we have dominion over all creatures of the earth. In our quest for world domination, nature is more often swept aside than woven into our master plans.

I call it arrogance of species, for we are not in charge of nature — we are nature. Until we embrace that core fact, we will share the fate of every species cast into oblivion before its time by unnatural means. Altering our course means consulting experts who really know how to live here and have the track record to back it up.

Dayna Baumeister from Biomimicry 3.8 calls it “quieting our human cleverness.” Such a simple concept, but not easy to execute — because it has to stem from humility. One of the hardest things for any human to do is acknowledge our own inadequacies. We are taught from birth to be self-sufficient and self-fulfilling creatures. We cherish independence and autonomy for enabling us the freedom to do what we choose and be whomever we want to be.

We need not ignore these virtues, but instead channel them in a way that is more conducive to living as a part of our planet, not just unconscious consumers of its resources. If we can grow in humility rather than arrogance, we can grow more aware of our connection to nature and our dependence on the earth. There are experts eager to share with us, and if we listen to and value their wisdom, the answers will be ours as well.