A few days ago for my innovation day, I visited the ROM and I came across this very powerful story that taught me about ecosystems and gave me new insight on relationships.
In Arizona, back in the 1900s, hunters and ranchers began killing off wolves. This also happened in Michigan and other states as well. They thought that the deer population was dwindling, and in other areas wolves were seen as a detriment to livestock, such as cattle and sheep. The government responded by putting a wolf bounty into legislation. Years later wolves were almost extinct. But what’s fascinating is what happened in the absence of wolves. The deer population quadrupled in size. And because of their over-grazing, the ranchers had even more problems, as their cattle and sheep were starving to death. The beavers were also affected by the killing of wolves, because the herbivores grazed in the beaver’s habitat. Creeks and streams in the area slowed to a trickle, because the over grazing held the soil in place, which resulted in channel incision, or erosion.
As a new understanding about ecosystems developed, the government began to understand the purpose and the significance wolves served as an apex predator within the ecosystem. Wolves were then placed under the Endangered Species Act, where they began to receive protection.
This was what lead me to rethink what we consider to be a relationship. Relationships exist all around us. From minerals to elements, relationships can be found in all aspects of life. The problem is, if I were to ask you what is a relationship? Most of us would be inclined to define it with a human element. Friendship, family, sexual, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife. But when it comes to relationships our scope is too narrow and our perspective is too limited. If we look out into our world or out into nature, you’ll find some form of a relationship. And all those relationships serve a purpose. The relationship between the Sun and the Earth is a relationship of purpose. The relationship between the moon and the Earth, is a relationship of purpose. The relationship between the human body and water, is a relationship of purpose. The relationship in the story between the wolves and the deer, is a relationship of purpose. It is said that if all insects died tomorrow it would wipe out many other species with it. That is a relationship of purpose. Our world and our universe is filled with relationships that all serve a greater purpose.
So I began to think about human relationships and how we define them. Why are many of these different? Why are many of them not a relationship of purpose? What if my relationship with my girlfriend was meant to offer me more than companionship? What if it was meant to do something greater, but because I only see her as a companion that’s the extent to how I handle her. We look at relationships as “yo I want to get with this girl” or “I want this guy in my life” but if we were to look at relationships with a broader scope, we would see that our relationships by nature should serve a greater purpose. Just as relationships outside of humanity do. Some would argue that it could be for companionship or procreation, but I believe there’s more too it. I’m beginning to believe that relationships are designed to be something that takes our lives to the next level. Relationships that exist outside of human relationships seem to sustain life or to support growth.
If I were to ask you, “why do you need to drink water?”. You’d probably say “because our bodies are made up of 60% water and our brains 70%, so as water goes out water must come in or dehydration will occur”. Just as our bodies are designed to need water, I believe we are also designed with a need for relationships. Scientists say that if a baby does not experience human contact in its critical years, it can die. Relationships are so powerful and have such an impact on our lives because they are apart of what we need emotionally. They are apart of what makes us human. And when we begin to understand that relationships in essence, should serve a purpose in our lives. Our relationships should bear fruit. It seems like with the way we handle our relationships are at the most basic level – companionship or procreation. But I guess my overall argument is that relationships offer more than just that. They have the power to help us tap into another side of our humanity. A powerful side.
In the story of the wolves, as man began to better understand the significance wolves carry on the ecosystem, they protected them. As we begin to understand the significance and purpose relationships have on the human experience, we’ll begin to use them more effectively. Get the most out of them. And begin to use them within the capacity they were designed to be used.
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