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The Philosophy of a Fungus

One of my favorite things about this site is the daily image on the front page. Avatar was filled with breath-taking imagery (made even better by IMAX 3D), but one stuck with me in particular. It is one of the first images in the movie, and it is one of the most harrowing: the unobtainium mine. I was awed by the sheer scope of it; the workers made tiny by the giant Hell Trucks, which are dwarfed by the massive digger, which itself is only a speck in the enormous man-made crater. The irony is that we do not have to travel interstellar distances to find sites just like it. There are plenty here on Earth.

I recently watch a documentary film called Manufactured Landscapes. Made by a photographer, it is glimpse into the world we are creating for ourselves through rampant consumerism and industrialization. We love to believe that our ordinary products were made by machines, and they are. The first images of the film are of an army of Chinese workers, the human machines whose hands churn out millions of consumer products that we take for granted. It then goes on to show the results of such globalization and industrialization, the price the planet is paying for the bottomless pit that is our greed and our wallets. For those of you who have read my blogs, you may recall that one of the scariest moments in film comes from the opening act of Disney Pixar's Wall-E. We see a world buried under miles of refuse. Both movies show us real terror. We are being choked, drowned, buried alive, but not by toxic sludge, invisible chlorofluorocarbons (contributors to ozone depletion), or radioactive waste. Instead we are up to our eyeballs in plastic cellphone covers, circuit boards, and electric irons: the ever growing ocean of consumer waste.Clocking in at just under an hour and a half, the movie was still torture. There were times when I wanted to look away, but forced myself to watch, because no one ever benefits by denying reality. However I did not watch it for school, or work, but instead for recreation. For those of you with Netflix accounts it is available online for instant viewing.

When the movie was over I do what I always do after watching a movie: I think. During the movie I found myself quick to damn the corporate cabals and exploitative governments that would make such a nightmare possible, but that was only a knee-jerk reaction. When faced with a problem I am instinctively drawn to solve it. I wanted to know how such atrocities became possible and who allowed them to happen. In my search for the one responsible, I found him in the mirror. The corporations and companies, they only give us what we ask for. Dollar for dollar, we have bought our own extinction. In a previous blog, I made it clear why I wrote these articles: Selfishness. I am only doing what I have chastised every film critic, sports commentator, and political analyst for not doing: I present my ideas, and allow you to draw your own conclusions. I say these things not to be heard, but to have them said. I am a tree that falls and makes a noise whether anyone is around to hear it or not. So with that said, allow me to explain the title of this article.

What is "the philosophy of a fungus"? Consider a mushroom, mold, or any fungi that comes to your mind. Fungi feed on death, decay and if we are not careful, our sandwich bread. They flourish in rotting places. Where they grow, something has died. So why the stigma? Without them and organisms like them, the world would soon be covered by dead things. They are the great recyclers. They eliminate the dead to make way for the living, just as predator eliminates the weak and sick, to make way for the strong and smart. The philosophy of a fungus is renewal. They take the dead things of the world and get them out of the way for the creators. In a world of growing trash heaps, landfills, and floating trash islands the size of Texas, we recognize the need for social fungi. I am not a predator. I am a fungus. Where I lack the instinct to hunt, I possess the intellect to select. I see the problems of the world; the dead flesh and rotting carcasses that if left to pile up will poison the world and bury us alive. The problem is that we are too few, and the dead pile up too quickly. Of course I am speaking figuratively here. I am not an actual fungus. But that is my philosophy for my contribution to the world.

Humanity is at a crossroads, because we are finally, and quite quickly beginning to realize that the world is not our dumpster. The problem is that it is easy, it is convenient, and it is still cost effective. As a business student, I find myself sitting as uncomfortably in a classroom as I did watching Manufactured Landscapes. So many of the horrors that we inflict on our planet are because there is no other method that is as easy on our backs, and our wallets. Right now, we are parasites. Not to overuse the analogy, but we are a cancer on this planet. What do we think is going to happen? That the world is just going to last forever? Even a parasite knows that it will die if it kills its host. But instead we close our eyes to the truth because it is too hard to bear. "I know it's wrong but what can I do by myself?", "Even if I change, what difference does it make?". I changed not because of the difference it would make, but for selfish reasons. I'm not out to save the world, I'm out to save myself. But without the world, what hope do I have? So I changed, I became a fungus, and I'm spreading my spores, because there's plenty of decay to go around, and I look forward to the day when I run out. Irayo Willofeywa 03:49, May 4, 2010 (UTC)

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