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Claudette Vaughan, Editor of Abolitionist Online, interviews Joanne Elizabeth Lauck, May 2007
Joanne Elizabeth Lauck said that “Our belief in insects as adversaries still encourages an ultimately self – destructive use of pesticides almost forty years after Rachel Carson warned us of their deadly effects.”
Joanne Lauck has written a unique book on the humming busy and full of life world of the microcosm, and what a world it is too. Here is the Abolitionist’s interview with her.
Abolitionist: The late Steve Irwin had a gift that made adults and children love the small creepy crawly animals and other animals normally not associated with cute and cuddly and here in your book “The Voice of the Infinite in the Small” you have done likewise. Please tell us about revisioning the insect-human connection.
Joanne: Revisioning the insect-human connection begins by encouraging a proper use of the imagination. Children typically are trained in the biases of the culture-in this case the Western animosity toward insects- by the adults in their life. The biases are also found throughout children’s literature, on television, radio and in movies. It is a simple and effective training of the hostile imagination. By the time they are adults, they assume their feelings of dislike toward the “Creeping People” are innate. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Abolitionist: What is it about insects that you find fascinating Joanne?
Joanne: I love the myriad of forms in the insect kingdom, their colors and ways of adapting to their environment – and when threatened – their ways of mutating. In order to survive. I love the fact that they come out at certain times of the year and are touchstones to the changing cycles in nature. And I love that insects are messengers of divine forces and come to us at meaningful times to reassure and bless our endeavors.
Abolitionist: Topsoil is teeming with hundreds of different life forms and every farmers knows that topsoil is essential to growing food off the land, yet we are killing these little animals at a tremendous rate through use of pesticides and herbicides and I would like to know your view on the matter?
Joanne: Yes it’s true that we are killing the small ones at a tremendous rate with pesticides and herbicides, however their power to adapt is greater than our technological prowess. They will survive and then find their balance again as is their way.
Abolitionist: What is the dance language of bees?
Joanne: Bees communicate with each other by dancing. These dance patterns have recently been connected by a mathematician to quark fields in quantum mechanics. In other words it seems like the bees are also communicating with the cosmos. The mysteries of interspecies communication just grow larger.
Abolitionist: What do the smaller animal kingdoms in the symbiosis of life have that humans need and vice versa? Does one thing rely on another in the struggle for progressive evolution?
Joanne: The earth and the larger animals are dependent on the smaller ones because they (in particular the insects) are an essential component in supporting the earth’s vital systems as well as being an important part of the food chance. Without their recycling abilities we would be up to our eyeballs in faeces and dead plant matter. Without their pollinating abilities, we would lose the plant kingdom. Without their beauty, our imaginations would be diminished.
Abolitionist: Where does a cultures phobic reaction come from and has it always been like that?
Joanne: A culture’s phobic reaction comes from flawed assumptions and the lack of a context to understand another’s behaviour. The indigenous tribes had an entirely different way of relating to the animal kingdom, which of course includes the insects. Their stories emphasized kinship and respect. Our stories emphasize dominance, struggle and competition for resources and power-over others. You can see how the animal in those two different kinds of stories will invoke fear and anger or appreciation and even love.
Abolitionist: Has your experience been the microcosm is a smaller version of life the macrocosm?
Joanne: Yes, it has been my experience that the microcosm is a smaller version of the macrocosm. In nature, in the insect world are patterns that apply to humans and other animals. Consider that ants live on the edge of chaos. That is, ants will just the density of their colony to maximize interactions between ants. At a certain critical mass and degree of communication, the colony shifts into a super organism where the sum is greater than the parts (or individual ants). That point where things shift is called the edge of chaos. It is far enough away from the status flow to let new inspirations flow in and not too far away that the system becomes unstable and chaotic. We humans seek that place to for optimal creativity and joy.
Abolitionist: What are your beliefs and thoughts on the reverence for all life ethic?
Joanne: Reverence for all life is a sound ethic and it produces great joy in the person who practices it. How it is interpreted through action or non action, however, is where people fall out of sync with each other.
Abolitionist: Rudolf Steiner¹s work with bio-dynamic farming techniques also encompasses a reverence for life boundary. How did humans tear that boundary apart from the insect kingdom and why do you think we are not only killing these important busy animals in their hundreds of thousands but simultaneously we are also poisoning our land and food supply?
Joanne: One of the ideas that has dominated Western culture and allowed us to destroy so much of the earth and its creatures came from Descartes: “I think and therefore I am.” It elevated the mind at the expense of the heart. But the heart and body are where the blood, passion for life, and imaginative faculties reside. This idea also made nature and animals devoid of sentience. They became fair game for exploitation then as they were perceived as being without consciousness or emotions. We also didn’t realise that not only were we interdependent with all other creatures, but we cannot wage war upon any creature without having the action rebound and return the harm to ourselves.
Abolitionist: What role does love and religion play in resuming and connecting this bond we have destroyed between ourselves and the insect kingdom?
Joanne: Love is a powerful force and any religion that teaches that to appreciate and love the earth and its creatures is to honor the creator or God will eventually help turn the tide.
Abolitionist: Can you please tell us your favourite insect story Joanne?
Joanne: That is a hard one. I have so many favorites. One in particular is a true story told by author Michael Roads. As a young boy he was caught in a violent thunder and lightening storm. He took cover in a dead tree. He squeezed through a hold in the trunk and waited for the raging storm to subside. Then he heard a buzzing above him and looked up to see hundreds of hornets. He was paralyzed with fear. The buzzing noise increased as the hornets descended. Then Roads realised that the buzzing was more a humming, almost a song and it was soothing not threatening. The hornet surrounded him and gave their song of comfort and reassurance and then flew back to the top of the hollow tree. It was a great gift to Roads.
Abolitionist: What role can animal rights have in restoring faith back to these wonderful creatures?
Joanne: The animal rights movement can set an intention to honor this kingdom while realising and making peace with the fact that insects are always killing and eating each other and that they move easily in and out of their bodies. If you eat plants you automatically eat lots insects. You can’t separate insects from their beloved plants. It has been my experience with insects that they do react against being hated. It is that energy directed toward them by someone that is toxic and holds the insects in an adversarial position where it looks as though it is them or us. Releasing that position shifts everything in the interaction.
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