I started listening to the program halfway through one of his interviews this morning, while he was speaking with guest Dr. Mark Winston, a professor of biology at BC's Simon Fraser University. Dr. Winston also used to be a beekeeper, with an apiary consisting of 200 bee colonies. The professor and the host got to talking about colony collapse disorder, and how beekeepers sometimes go to check their colonies and find 90% of the bees are just gone. Dr. Winston says he has seen this coming for decades, due to changes in the way beekeeping has been conducted. In short, using insecticides and other chemicals to kill the mites and other things harming the bees, rather than recognizing and addressing the bigger reasons the bees were becoming susceptible to such pests (i.e., the mono-culture of Agribusiness, genetically modified mega-crops, etc.) Essentially, bees have had virtually nothing other than genetically modified canola pollen on which to conduct their bee activities.
Michael Enright then asked, (and I'm paraphrasing here because I can't remember it verbatim), "Why do humans take these shortsighted approaches when we have a problem with a product?"
To me the answer is in the question itself. Bees are not "products." Just as fish and trees are not mere "stocks" to be "harvested." Oil and water are not just "reserves" in storage for human extraction whenever we want. Humans take shortsighted action because, by and large, we don't see that we are NOT separate from the bees, the fish, the trees, the water, the oil. We are all part of the wholeness, the oneness of things.
I believe that when a person comes to know this in their heart and bones and mind, it becomes impossible to see some things/beings as "products" and other beings as the rightful consumers/exploiters of that "product." Because it would mean that you are exploiting and hurting yourself, literally and directly, not just metaphorically or philosophically.
Think about it for a minute: we're all made of the same "stuff." Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, salts and minerals. All things are made of these basic elements and their compounds. Why is a carbon atom worth more in me than in a dog or a fish or a tree or some oil?
Humanity's short-sightedness transforms into global, long-term vision when we see ourselves as part of this interconnected oneness. Humans used to know this in their hearts, minds and bones. We need to know it that way again.
Back on the radio, Professor Watson replied to Mr. Enright's question by saying that humans need to become more aware of the cumulative effects of their short-sighted actions. The host concurred, saying that the Buddhist concept of mindfulness would be another way of looking at it. I submit that an understanding of the Taoist concept of the interconnectedness of all things would preclude having to even ask that question.
The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal TaoPicture courtesy this website
The name that can be named is not the eternal name
The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
The named is the mother of myriad things
Thus, constantly without desire, one observes its essence
Constantly with desire, one observes its manifestations
These two emerge together but differ in name
The unity is said to be the mystery
Mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonders
Chapter 1, Tao Te Ching as translated by Derek Lin