QUALITY/QUANTITY : ECOLOGY/ECONOMY
Here is a duality opposed across a mysterious point. Quality depends on benefit to the arbitrary purpose of individuals or the general welfare of a group and quantity is the account of an amount, verifiable by each and all. The confusion between good/bad with large/small seems to be a major disruptor in human’s ability to find peace on earth.
The appealing quality of quantity is the safe anonymity sought by the herding instinct found in all animal life. No longer a regular on any predator’s menu, humans had only to fear natural disasters — and each other when compelled to crowd into too tight herds around too little food. Totalitarian agriculture spawned artificial population growth around the silos of surplus. The quantity of days in the future one had food for in the present became a prime quality of life once the ability to hunt and gather nature’s seasonal offering was lost. Tokens relieved the necessity to store one’s share of the crops and soon became the medium of trade for more than mere food — so much so that in developed nations food is less than a quarter of their all consuming budget.
This brings us to the juncture of two seemingly opposed concerns around the same mysterious point; two words with the prefix, eco, from Greek oikos=house.
Add nemein=manage and you get economy, managing the affairs of a household. For centuries mankind was so busy trying to maintain his invented civilization that, until as recently as the sixties, household was the place from which nature was kept at bay. As the term, household, expanded with the growing dependence of individuals on economy of burgeoning civilizations, its relationship to nature has remained one of a manger of goods for human consumption to the rest of the world as his god granted infinite resource.
Western civilization’s attitude about the health of the planet reminds me of a story tellingly told me back in ’62 by the son of the mayor of Greenville, Mississippi about share croppers living on his family land, “They’re so ignernt, they tear siding off their shack to stoke their stove in the winter.”
When the conversation is about money no one but the personhood of corporations, from nations to fledgling factories, have the vocabulary required to express the logic of the bottom line, the bigger the number the greater the quality to minds bent on either owning the most of the last usable chunk of earth or, having shit this nest, traveling to the stars.
Well, sir, along came the scientists who, like Galileo, Copernicus and Darwin further dismantled the human homocentric myth of god granted exceptionality and expanded the household built of civilization’s commodities to the biological interdependence of the entire planet, spaceship earth.
Add logos=study and you get ecology. Science revives the indigenous understanding of Pachamama, Gaia, the living planet, the organism of which we have always been a part throughout our cultural path as self-evolved aliens requiring more and more isolation from our own individually failed responsibility for the usury and mindless waste we work every day to perpetuate. Land fills and oceans collect the charcoal left from burning the siding civilization tears off Pachamama to exact the ideal conditions for separately evolving neohumans.
Nature, considered as our household, cannot be managed without the purpose of making it into something other than it is. Considering nature a wondrous, evolving habitat event to be studied undisturbed until mutually beneficial interaction is understood, is a genetic quality every child is born supremely equipped to do. These tools are useless for managing civilization’s invisible big house and buried beneath the little red schoolhouse with the metal detector at the door.
Quality varies between extremes of ecstasy and suckage. Quantity varies between having everything and owing everything. Economy varies from complete control to complete submission. Ecology varies from healthy to dead.