"Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it.
Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself."
Attributed to Chief Seattle
There is a lot of confusion about the origin of the second quote. Did Chief Seattle really say this in mid 1850s or it was by a man by the name of Tod Parry who wrote it in 1970s. No confusion about the first quote though. It was by Sir Walter Scott and I must admit that I have taken it a little out of context.
Let us leave aside the origin of these quotes for the moment. I find the statement that we humans are just a part of a complex whole and that our actions have implications beyond what we can readily see as very profound. It is more and more aligned with the evolving wisdom of the human race in general. Less and less anthropocentric. More and more inclusive. Heisenberg makes more and more sense. In short, we are becoming less and less cocky.
Earth is not the centre of the solar system any more; our galaxy is not the centre of the universe any more; and humans are not the privileged children of the cosmos any more. While this may seem as comedown, actually it is a sign of our growing more mature as a race.. It is as if the child grows up and recognises that it is not dependence or independance but interdependence which matters.
But more than all this abstraction, I find the statement holding a lot of practical value for us in the way we live our lives and look at problems. Our problems today have arisen with our solutions yesterday. It is said that many people thought in the early 20th century that problems of pollution in the roads because of horses were going to be wiped out with the advent of automobiles!
We are also discovering interconnectedness more and more. Many school children today understand the oil politics and economics. When I was in school I never knew what snakes had to with people. I did not know what it means have tigers in the forest.
We are seeing beyond the strands and looking at the web more today. And what a tangled web we see.