Books, Enlighten Me

The Hidden Life of Trees

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Photo by Jeremy Holden on Unsplash

 

Trees are Socialists.

I’ve only read about 10% of The Hidden Life of Trees, but that’s the gist from someone I suspect is also a socialist…me.

The book discusses one scientific study after another conducted on trees, and one such study was about the rate of photosynthesis and sugar content/per leaf. This is the research that has me convinced trees are socialists…but as I read on, there’s more and more validation for that conclusion.

The Institute for Environmental Research at RWTH Aachen conducted their photosynthesis research in an “undisturbed beech forest” and what they discovered is that whether a tree is thick or thin, weak or strong, the rate of photosynthesis in a stand of trees is equal.

Underground, tree roots are communicating with each other through fungi! When a tree is ill or injured or weak, the other trees help out by lending it sugar to keep the process of photosynthesis active. It amazes me that trees communicate…through their root system…through their leaves…underground…in the canopy…silently…electrically…through sound waves…through silence.

If that doesn’t blow your mind, then you’re not paying attention…or you paid better attention during biology class than I did and this isn’t new to you at all!

So, how did I leap from photosynthesis to socialistic?

Easy…despite common misconceptions, socialism is not about government domination, dictatorships, giving up wealth. Socialism is about ‘equalizing distribution’…in economic terms this doesn’t mean that you can’t be wealthy, it just means that the government makes sure you’re more like Bill and Melinda Gates; less like Ebenezer Scrooge.

You can still live in a big mansion if you’re a socialist. You can still own a business and make tons of money. You just also share your obscene profits with the guys and gals cleaning your toilets and actually doing the jobs that make you the money.

Canada is the most familiar socialist country to Americans. Most of us have been there to look at the falls, gamble, drink wine, or experience The Phantom of the Opera. 

I love that scientists are proving the socialistic nature of nature. It might give socialism a nicer rep.

It’s comforting to think that trees take care of each other the way we might take care of a sick parent. To me, at least. Maybe to Bernie Sanders too.

And Justin Trudeau.

And Merka Angela.

And any American currently on/hoping to someday be on Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.

And … well…my Dad.

But don’t take my word for the Forest Socialist idea. Directly from the book:

Their enormous networks act as gigantic redistribution mechanisms. It’s a bit like the way social security systems operate to ensure individual members of society don’t fall too far behind. 

3 pages later:

This is because a tree can only be as strong as the forest that surrounds it. 

Yep…the wisdom of Nature!

Comments? I’d love to hear them!

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Books, Enlighten Me

Neil is my Hero

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Photo by Joel Filipe on Unsplash

Neil DeGrasse Tyson is my hero…today. I love watching him on talk shows, and on documentaries. And now, I love listening to him read his newest book: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

He’s my hero of the day because he is passionate about the universe and within that passion, he has honed wisdom about life.

In the final chapter of the book, he explains why it’s so important to have a cosmic perspective of life. It’s a new way of stating what I’ve tried to do for most of my life: look at the bigger picture.

When you do that, you pay attention to more than how your husband irritates you when he interrupts you in mid-sentence and also remember how he put his day on hold to rescue you from a flat tire, built a pottery studio in your basement, supports your dream of being a writer.

When you have a cosmic perspective, you pay attention to more than the construction that has narrowed the highway to one lane and also notice the number of construction workers who can support their families, the potholes that will disappear, the beauty of the flowers in the new median strip or the convenience of that larger water pipe being buried.

When you have a cosmic perspective, you pay attention to more than the political labels and branding and notice how that candidate’s votes impacted our earth, took care of those with mental or physical illnesses, help the less fortunate, protect our young, defuse violence, care about the other people with whom we share this world.

The final chapter had me thinking about connection…in a broader John Donne “No Man is an Island” sort of way, because none of us are an island. Everything I do impacts you in some way…some day…maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in 10 years when you meet my former student who’s now a doctor in the hospital where you are being treated. Will you benefit from the kindnesses I may have shown her or suffer from the harsh way I judged her? What would you rather experience?

Or maybe tomorrow, you’ll ask one of my children for help and they’ll respond out of the lessons they learned in MY home about looking out for number one…or respond out of the lessons they learned about how we’re all connected and all responsible for the way we treat each other.  Which would you prefer?

But don’t just skip to the last chapter of Neil’s book…can I call him Neil? I don’t think he’d mind. 🙂

If you skip to the last chapter, you’ll miss out on the reason he says “Einstein was a badass.”

And you’ll miss the tongue-in-cheek explanation that ends with the idea we may be descendants of Martians! Don’t want to miss that, do you?

If you’ve read the book, or are currently reading the book, leave your comments. Let’s talk about the Cosmos like only those in the “Neil is our Hero” fan club can!