What differentiates human people from non-human people? It’s a question that was triggered in a group that I subscribe to and one that I thought it might be interesting to explore more on this blog. Particularly with regard to the damage we are doing to Nature.
Non-human animals fight for resources, for example robins will fight to the death over territory. Non-human animals show emotion, just look into a dog’s eyes. They are intelligent, the great apes can talk to us if they have learnt sign language, parrots have been taught to speak and have demonstrated the intelligence of a 6 year old and dolphins know a thing or two.
Earth – physical being; Air – thought and intelligence; Water – emotions; we share all of these in varying amounts with non-human animals.
But Fire… Creativity and passion are firmly in the realm of human people along with its destructive side which is hurting the world around us.
There are few animals that use fire, but it is humans who have really harnessed it, from keeping warm to cooking and to flying to the Costa Brava. We started with burning wood, moved on to fossil fuels and then found nuclear fission, each source of fuel more destructive than the last.
The Fire Dragon, I like to think of the four elements as elemental dragons, has grown in stature and power throughout our history, we have nurtured it and it has nurtured us. But at what cost? White’s Law states that “culture evolves as the amount of energy harnessed per capita per year is increased, or as the efficiency of the instrumental means of putting the energy to work is increased” which suggests that we would not have the level of culture or society that we enjoy without us using the Fire Dragon to the level we have. Of course you can equate culture with creativity as well as society. The fire brings creativity too.
We can’t do without the Fire Dragon but it is damaging the other elements. Just look at the Australian wildfires earlier this year for an obvious example. But realistically, the impacts of energy use are far greater. The biggest impact, climate change, is starting to be felt and will see destruction beyond anything anyone can really imagine – the Fire Dragon’s impact on air has further impacts on earth and water. Our energy habit has triggered the sixth mass extinction – humans are directly responsible for the sixth extinction event…
The fire is responsible for passion and creativity too. Passion, like energy is a double edged sword. For example, we can see the downside of passion being played out in gender politics and BLM. Trump is passionate… There are people who refuse to listen to the view points of those who hold opposing views.
I spoke to Tony Benn once. I asked him whether I should go into public debate with racists or whether it was better to “no platform” them, i.e. refuse the debate and deny them the oxygen of publicity. He was unequivocal, debate them.
It saddens me every time I see someone saying “If you believe X, then defriend me.” This is the fire of passion burning too hot. It has to be better to try to persuade them to your view point rather than dissolve your circle into an increasingly tiny bubble.
Creativity is the highly positive side of fire. It is a part that needs nurturing and expressing. We need to be able to express ourselves. Fire is not all destructive.
So what is the answer? How do put out the fire or at least clip that dragon’s wings?
Water of course: empathy, emotion, connection. Deep connection through the water dragon who swims silently beneath the surface. Honouring the sparkling spring, the quiet river and deep blue sea. Understanding that we are 80% water and that all life depends on water. Reforming our relationship with the Water Dragon.
Earth, being grounded, stable and dependable. Deep connection with the earth, touching the soil in the morning, knowing that we come from the soil and will return to it. Understanding that as we walk on the earth, we must do so lightly. The Earth Dragon is a vital part of us.
And using less energy too helps… but we do this as our connection to earth and water grows.
But Air, not really. Air fans the flames, it gives a rational response to the passionate and unlistening Fire Dragon. Rational arguments are weak in comparison to emotional ones as anyone in advertising will tell you. Using emotional language is magic, rational arguments are not. The Air Dragon is too clever for his own good sometimes!
These can be expressed in Yin and Yang terms too. The world has an imbalance of yang energy (I equate fire and air with the masculine yang) and not enough yin.