Day Six began with rain--a pleasant rain--a rain on which this forest's survival depends. My spirit is immersed in wonder as I listen to the pitter-patter of the raindrops on the roof and then the "drip, drip, drip" of the raindrops falling from the flora and fauna as we walk to breakfast. I notice too, as we return to our room, how many plants live off each other in the rainforest. We call these plants parasites.
The Costa Rica Arenal rainforest has over 3,000 plant species, which include hundreds of parasitic plants. These plants have difficulty obtaining the nutrients needed to survive, so they have evolved a system whereby they attach themselves to a host, such as a tree or shrub, and absorb nourishment. Parasitic plants are adapted to live on the forest floor or high up in the top canopy layer. Are these plants Nature's way of telling us that the only way this world will hold together in the future is if we learn to be dependent upon one another? I believe so. Already there is drastic evidence that we need a stable economy in Greece, China, and Saudi Arabia in order to have economic security elsewhere. People need one another, nations need one another. In the future this will become even more evident as we wrestle with limited resources and other issues, such as global warming.
We hear the word "parasite" and immediately conjure up in our minds a negative meaning. I would suggest that we put a more positive note on the word. A parasitic plant cannot survive on its own. Neither can we.
On the other hand, parasitic plants take what they need from the host plant and typically give nothing back. This is precisely what humankind has done for centuries with the earth. We have taken everything from it and given little back. Our relationship with the earth must now be a vital balance of taking and restoring, of receiving and returning. The same is true in our human relationships, both personal and societal. We cannot long survive without the rainforests. We cannot survive without a global community of mutual care and support.