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I read this article a couple of days ago  and it led my husband and me to have a conversation about Americans and spirituality.

The trees have social networks. The trees take care of a sick neighbor by feeding them sugar water and can keep them alive for decades.

If the trees are social beings and care for one another, it seems like these things would be at the core of our being, too. I think greed and selfishness are the difference, though. People put money before human beings – profits before people. We also see human beings ask questions like, “What is in it for me?” Of course, there are also people who deliberately injure or kill other people.

How is it that the trees are more loving and noble than many people?

The other day my husband and I went to see a retirement planner and she was talking about the stock market. She said, “The stock market isn’t reacting to the economy right now. We know the economy will grow as long as people spend money.”

We are taught to spend money. We are taught to want and buy and buy and buy. This behavior doesn’t consider the resources that go into the products we buy like wood, water, gas, copper, steel, and human lives. Many people don’t consider what they eat – the fact that they are nourishing their bodies with cows, pigs, chickens or the milk or eggs of these animals.

There is a disconnect between people and the natural environment and other living things. I think when we are so cut off from the things that sustain our lives we become sick in our spirit, and that sickness is apparent in the way we treat the planet and other human beings.

Very few of us still hunt and fish or farm our food, so we don’t have a relationship to the things that keep us alive. We don’t often think of trees helping us to breathe. Some of the same things that separate us from plants and animals also separate us from other people – the convenience of modern living- cars, computers, refrigeration, heat, air conditioning, grocery stores, and shopping malls. We don’t think that our lives are dependent on others, but they are, we just don’t see the people who we need. We don’t see the farmers in the fields, or the people overseeing the washing of fruit in factories, or the truckers bringing food to the market, and on and on.

Today, I am in awe of the tree. There are so many lessons they have to teach us, and I hope we learn them soon because using them as an example would ease so much suffering.  Who knew that along with giving us oxygen, trees could teach us how to live and care for each other when planted side by side? Trees make excellent neighbors, but do we?