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Barefoot and terrified: When did we become afraid of Mother Earth?


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Dearest readers,

A recent televised evening news broadcast announced the arrest of a woman at a North Carolina daycare center on charges of child abuse for breastfeeding another woman’s baby. When I heard this story, I thought about how fearful and mistrustful we humans are of one another. Especially in America. We are afraid to touch one another, to have anyone touch or hug our children. We are afraid to take off our shoes and walk barefoot outdoors. I remember playing outside barefoot as a kid. It was another time. People were worried about other things, but we were closer to one another. We played outside. There were no cell phones, computers, and we didn’t watch much t.v.

It used to be commonplace for women to breastfeed the children of other people, often for pay as wet nurses. I feel as if humanity has reached the outer limits of human isolation from our own inner selves, from one another, from the feminine and from Mother Earth herself. I believe this is the main reason why so many people are sick, and why there is so much violence and disharmony on the planet.

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An NPR radio broadcast recently told the story of a young writer and environmental activist, Mark Baumer, who was walking across America barefoot. He was tragically struck and killed by an S.U.V. on the 94th day of his journey. He was 33 years old.

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Both of these stories gave me food for thought. I thought about the breastfeeding story from the baby’s point of view, and also from the mother’s and the daycare worker’s. The mother, like most people, has absorbed popular culture. She wants to be a good mom and protect her child from germs and from other people. The daycare worker, also a young mother, was probably convinced that this bottle-fed preemie needed breast milk to thrive. Breast milk is full of antibodies and most likely did not cause the baby to become ill, as his mother claimed.

Babies are extremely sensitive little beings. Who knows? Perhaps feeling his mother’s anger and fear made him sick. I wanted so much to tell his mom that we are all family. All human beings, all animals, all plants are members of one living family. We are here to learn to love ourselves and to love one another. We are here to learn how to be patient and compassionate.

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Fear of germs. Fear of other people. Today, so many humans box themselves off from others. We are distant and standoffish. Many people (including myself) rarely have the opportunity to touch another human being or to be touched. We are constantly bombarded with information encouraging us to be afraid of disease and death, conditioned to believe that soil, insects, skin, bacteria, and close contact with others cause sickness. Yet those who dig in the earth, who walk barefoot, who hug, touch, love, laugh are much less likely to fall ill. Being close to nature helps us to feel peaceful, joyful, and loving.

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Young Mark Baumer, as a writer, performance artist, and lover of Earth, was making a point of walking barefoot. I feel he was trying to show people how connected our destiny is to Mother Earth – both personally and collectively. Human consciousness affects the planet, and we affect her. When we are isolated from our own emotions and from one another, when we don’t live from the heart and rationalize everything, we create disharmony on the planet. Human beings are designed to live in harmony with ourselves and one another. Our culture has given too much importance to male energies and to the rational mind. We have forgotten our hearts. Living from the heart creates wellness, order, inner peace, abundance on earth, and social harmony.

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Mother Earth wants us to love her, to recognize her, and for us to know that she is alive and listening to us. She wants us to talk to her and to love and communicate with all of nature. Nature is here for us to enjoy, but also for us to respect. Our own bodies are designed to connect with nature and with one another, intuitively. Mother Earth is the foundation for the emotional body. She is our home, and home is exactly where the heart is.

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So take off your shoes, wiggle your toes. Hug your dog. Laugh out loud. Walk outside. Let the sun kiss your skin. Breathe deeply. Relax. Don’t worry about fire ants, spiders, bacteria or other invisible attackers. Our own body is a microbiome in itself, teeming with trillions of microorganisms living in and on our bodies. We help them, and they help us. We are cooperative beings, and when we are in harmony with self and others, we live longer and happier. Mother Earth has our back. Isn’t it time we had hers?

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