Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)
The species Homo sapiens is unique upon the earth. Walking upright, we have the use of our hands complete with the dexterous opposable thumbs that allow us to hold and manipulate tools. The frontal lobe is outrageously large in proportion to the rest of our brain allowing us to reason, examine complex ideas, speak and express deep emotion. Such great gifts have been bestowed upon us as a species, yet we continue to be a difficult enigma upon the planet. We are simultaneously capable of the deepest compassion and the darkest cruelty. Coupled with our fates is a construct of our rational minds, free will. With free will, we have imposed ourselves on every surface of the earth. From the deepest depths of the ocean to the outer reaches of earth’s atmosphere and beyond, we have had dominion.
Like the Old Testament God that imposes His will from a heavenly throne, mankind has set itself apart from nature. As man began to divine the meaning of his own existence, it was humanity that created God in his own image rather than the other way around. With the exception of the possibility of intervention by divine inspiration, the great preachers of all faiths have yet to produce a document that is penned by God himself. The great books of doctrine have been passed down, written and rewritten by the adroit hands of human beings. Yahweh, Elohim and Allah are the constructions of man’s cerebrum and are a projection of our own envisaged superiority over all the species of the earth. We are, above all, an arrogant organism.
Since the birth of the Hebrew faith, a male God in heaven, separate from and looking down upon the earth has dictated from afar the fate of our planet and all her creatures, and being created in His image, humanity has followed suit. Once limited to a small geographic area encompassing areas of contemporary Egypt and Israel, the Judeo-Christian culture has now spread its influence across the globe and with it has spread the male God’s mandate of domination.
Yahweh and His followers have not always ruled over the earth. Prior to the exponential rise of the Judeo-Christian culture, many societies existed that subscribed to a mandate of balance and peaceful coexistence with one another, earth and her species. Many other cultures worshipped Earth herself as Goddess. With few exceptions, these groups formed peaceful civilizations that endured for centuries if not millennia with minimal conflict or strife. Earth’s resources were sustainably managed and equitably distributed amongst all members of society. Scarcity was a hardship shared by all when lean times arose, and abundance was equally enjoyed by all. Such altruistic attitudes resulted in societies with limited military capabilities. Ultimately, the worshippers of Earth were relatively easily overtaken by those with a dogma of domination.
Other societies worshipped both male and female attributes in the divine. As early as the 14th century B.C.E. the ancient Chinese noted the essence of the universe could be described as a unity of opposites and everything in nature, on earth and in the cosmos could be designated as ‘yin’ (feminine) or ‘yang’ (masculine). The polar opposites could not exist independently but together formed a union that created one thing, the entire universe.
In the morning as the sun rose and cast its light (yang) on the world, a peasant worked in the field to earn his subsistence. As the day waned, darkness (yin) fell and people returned to their homes to rest. Thus the natural cycles of light and action followed by darkness and rest are represented by masculine and feminine yang and yin. Water and earth are passive and female, while fire and air are masculine. The universe is one but has its polarities each yielding to the other in a perpetual state of equilibrium.
The Chinese do not ascribe qualities of good or evil to either yin or yang, as the two entities are simply opposite sides of the same whole. Neither is better nor worse than the other. Furthermore, they believe that the two forces need to be maintained in balance. When either yin or yang overwhelms the other, disaster strikes in order to shock the system back into stability.
The ancient Chinese wisdom of the unity of opposites also appears in various other ancient philosophies such as the writings of the ancient Greek Heraclites and is still revered and embraced today by people of all cultures, races and religions. The reasons for universal acceptance of the basic concepts of yin and yang are probably largely due to man’s observance of nature. In the natural world, life is followed by death, which nourishes the ground for rebirth. Day is followed by night and then day again. The male and female of each species must unite to create life. Without the other counterpart both male and female are impotent.
In spite of all logical observation to the contrary, the forces of yin began to lose favor to the forces of yang in human history. The feminine yin attributes came to be seen as inferior, weak and shameful. Darkness became evil as light was elevated to the status of divine all on its own, and the female earth was bowed down by a dominant father in heaven. The earth-worshippers were proverbial sitting ducks, ultimately and easily overthrown by Yahweh’s people whose doctrine preached dominance and subjugation. As the feminine yin was dominated and diminished, so was her divine embodiment, Earth.
We have been obedient servants to our God. We have been fruitful and multiplied, filled up the earth and subdued it. We are now at a threshold where God’s dictate no longer serves our interests or the interests of the earth. If we continue upon our current path of dominance and destruction, we are destined to extinguish ourselves taking numerous innocent bystander species along with us in the process.
Wielding a powerful, masculine hand and running riot over those that dare to be passive, the human species has affected the face of earth more than any other species that has ever existed. With human population numbers steadily increasing and now approaching 7 billion souls, our impact on the planet is greater than ever. Add to this the staggering economic growth of the two countries with the largest populations on earth, China and India, and many environmental scientists believe that our species has charted a cataclysmic course towards our own and Earth’s destruction.
Diminished though she is, our female deity still exerts her presence in our shared humanity. People of the Earth share lives punctuated by hard work to earn a living and a focus on family and community. These themes are universal whether we live in Norway, the United States or Botswana, although the standards of living and quality of life vary greatly for citizens of each of these nations. However, except for a small handful of individuals on the globe who possess great wealth and/or political power, the rest of us for the most part believe we are powerless to change the runaway course of environmental and social destruction. We are all wrong.
People of the earth have much more influence than they realize. Citizens of western nations enjoy all of the benefits of democracy, freedom of speech, private ownership and prosperous economies. This is considerably more than most of our ancestors ever dreamed of. For a large portion of the world’s people, these privileges are still a long way off. Unfortunately, even though on a global scale we westerners are lucky beyond measure simply by virtue of the accident of our geography, we walk around in a trance-like state most of the time feeling exhausted with stress, depression and anxiety about the future. We are lonely and unfulfilled. We crave nurturance but are unable to buy it from a store. The very things that our society tells us make success leave us feeling empty, but we have no societal input about where to turn for relief. By denying and suppressing our feminine values for so long, we are slowly and gradually working ourselves to death. Everything seems out of our control.
We are critically out of balance with the yang forces even overwhelming contemporary Chinese society. We are long overdue for a societal correction.
The simple truth is that our business as usual model in the western world simply isn’t working anymore. Those few individuals with extraordinary wealth and/or power have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. It has obviously been working for them. We can no longer count on many of our political leaders to point us in a new, revolutionary direction to save our planet, enrich our lives and provide a safe and secure future for all the citizens of the earth. It is up to us, the little guys and gals.
Every single thing we do in our lives has an impact on the earth, either positive or negative. The choices in terms of what we eat, where we shop, what we wear, how much we buy, how we spend our free time, how we heat our homes and how we heal our bodies are at the base of the global economy and the fate of the earth. When we drag ourselves down to our neighborhood McDonalds after work for a meal for the family, that has an impact, or when we spend our Saturday morning shopping at the local farmer’s market for our week’s food, that has another impact.
As free citizens, we have the right to make choices, and it is these choices that can collectively change everything. We can build stronger communities, repair our broken families, lead healthy, happy and productive lives and yes, save the earth. We can even change how business as usual is conducted. To go forward, we must now go back and rescue the Goddess that we abandoned thousands of years ago. Only by reinstating her in her rightful throne alongside and equal to her male counterpart can we preserve our species and save our beautiful Earth.