Carbon is the tradable currency of the forest. Trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere as part of the process of photosynthesis and share some of it with fungi that grow on their roots. In return, the fungi give them nutrients and minerals such as nitrogen and phosphor, which trees cannot absorb from the soil, but fungi can.
Now, a new study by the Israel Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences has found that fungi do not use all the carbon for themselves. Instead, they “pilfer” carbon from stronger trees and pass it on to weaker ones. In a sense, they are a kind of Robin Hood of the trees, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
Once again, we find that where we see “survival of the fittest,” there is in fact “survival of the friendliest.” The ego hides the truth from us and prevents us from building peaceful and abundant lives for ourselves.
Connections among humans are far more complex and intricate than those among trees. If we used them correctly, they could sustain all of us abundantly, even if there were many more people in the world than the current world population. But we do not use them correctly. We use them to abuse and dominate others. In doing so, we condemn ourselves to eternal wars and inevitable destruction.
Our egos are blinding us. They make us feel that if we share our fortune, we will be left deficient. In truth, empirical evidence shows that those who share end up having greater abundance than those who do not, both financially and emotionally, while the tightfisted end up on the losing end of life.
The current crisis in computer chips, for example, could have been prevented if we only coordinated our needs instead of each company stocking up on supplies and “emptying the shelves.” The shipping crisis, where ships wait outside ports for weeks before they can unload their cargo, is also an unnecessary result of our unwillingness to cooperate, to consider others’ needs, as well.
If we want to utilize the interconnections in our society to our benefit, we need to start thinking about how we use them for the common good, not only to benefit those in power. Otherwise, supply shortages will worsen to the point where we will have difficulty providing ourselves with the most basic and necessary staples.
It may not be natural for us to share, as it is for nature, but we have no choice. This is why we were given intelligence, so we can use our intellect to learn why sharing pays.
Nature has its Robin Hoods; we have nothing but a movie. So if we want a peaceful and abundant tomorrow, we must nurture the hidden Robin Hood within us.
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