( – promoted by buhdydharma )
crossposted at Wild Wild Left and also antemedius
Take this as a gift, this metaphor…. Run with it, if you like.
Which way do you read this? Are we … Strangler or Embracer?
In Santa Elena, a small town near Monte Verde, is one of the coolest attractions in all of Costa Rica. The best part about this super secret adventure, its free. This “attraction” isn’t so much of an attraction as it is a dead tree.
Just outside of town, down a dirt road, is a small trail leading off into the forest. About 15 minutes down this trail is an extremely old tree that has been fully consumed by what is known as the Strangler Fig Parasite.
The Strangler Fig Parasite comes when an infected bird poops on top of a tree. The parasite then forms vines that grow down the tree to the trees root system. Once at the tree’s roots, the parasite takes over the tree’s root system and slowly kills off the tree. To make a long story short, the parasite eventually kills the tree, but the vines are left in it’s place. This leaves you with one very, Lord of the Rings looking, hollowed out tree.
The vines of the parasite become very large and very strong, almost tree like. They are so strong in fact, that you can actually climb inside of the tree and use the vines as a “ladder” all the way to the top of the tree. After about 60+ feet of climbing inside the hollowed out tree, you come to a small opening where you can stick your head out and see right at the top of the forests canopy line.
Of course, the knee-jerk first instinct is to read this as a metaphor for the big corporate meanies who are strangling our democratic union into oblivion. Of course. And all they will leave behind is an empty gaping hollow hole. Like a lost tooth… but there’s no tooth fairy, no unicorns, no magic pixie dust to save us all from a woeful demise. The original tree is left for dead. Buh bye, America.
But… what if we look at this another way?
Strangler fig begins its life as a parasite as its seed lodges in the cracks and crevices of the bark of a host. The seed germinates and sends out air roots. These air roots take in nutrients and water from the air and host tree. Eventually the air roots grow to reach the ground and develop their own underground root system, independent of the host tree. Often during this process, the strangler fig may cover the host tree with its own trunk and strangle the host tree, hence the common name. New branches grow and if these reach the ground, they will send out new shoots and roots. Over time, this can create a compound structure of trees that covers a large area.
I’ve been simultaneously inspired and stuck on this imagery/metaphor for about a week now.
Im not big on an adversarial, competitive world way. Yet our system is totally set up that way, by design. Everything, it seems, is either / or, us / them. Binary. All the way down the line, its win or lose, with very little in between. Look at the court system. The legal system, the electoral process, the legislative process. All of it.
You or Me.
Live or Die.
I hate that.
I wish the founders would’ve borrowed a whole lot more from the Haudenosaunee and employed more of a council-web or consensus frame up. But they didn’t.
Well. So. Here we are.
The corporates, the oligarchy, whatever you want to call it, has a stranglehold on it. The Greeders. The One Percenters. Verucans. They are it.
Our tendency is think of It, the gov’t, as the absolute end all be all, and that we are dependent upon it/them for our very survival. That we are the subjects, or serfs, or users, or followers. Beggars.
We are not. We are the citizens, and we should be more the makers and less the takers.
The strangler fig is generally considered a parasitic plant by botanists because it entwines around a host plant and eventually kills it. The fig needs the host plant for support. But we might consider the fig a benign parasite because it kills its host so slowly and there is some evidence that the host plant may acquire some benefit from the fig. Ecologists recognize that all creatures exist in a kind of mutual interdependence with others.
We humans think of ourselves as independent creatures, yet more cells in our bodies are microbial than are our own. Every plant and every animal has microbial symbients or other higher organisms as mutualistic partners. I use the strangler fig as a metaphor for all life’s interdependence.
~Mary A. Hood, Author
The whole thing, this “grand experiment” of democracy, has been turned upside down and inside out. Hijacked. Usurped.
If The People could make the shift, the leap, in our thinking, it could be … more. It could be better, it could be different. We could maybe even get it right.
So… which are we … the parasite or the host? There’s an immediate negative connotation with those words, I realize. We think of it like an invasive disease, parasite, ewyugh. Get it off me! But if you look at some of these photo’s, maybe you can see a Third Way … of seeing, or feeling, in this context.
Are we on the cusp of building something strong anew, the “parasite”; or are we clinging to and defending the old failed structure, the “host”, in the Hope that it will better itself, that it’s even somehow fixable?
Are we bold enough to grow and reach out and seek new toeholds until we can climb the ladder of vine-rungs to the top and see the sky? Do we dare…?
Like most of the others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that my instincts were right. I shared a vagrant optimism that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top.
At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles — a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other-that kept me going.