One hot afternoon, researcher Giacomo Rizzolatti and team, were working with monkeys when they decided it was time for a gelato break. In the lab, joyfully eating their ice-cream, they totally forgot about the monkeys. The monkeys, still hooked-up to brain activity monitors, registered pleasure as they observed the pleasure of the ice-cream eating researchers. And that’s how, serendipitously, mirror neurons were discovered.
Mirror neurons are brain cells that respond, with mimicry, to the actions of others. This reaction, generally, is known as empathy.
Empathy is the capacity to recognize and understand the feelings of another.
The female brain is wired for empathy whereas the male brain is not. And for one simple reason: women, and not men, have babies.
Empathy permits women to better care and protect their offspring. For example, how could a mother and a non-speaking baby communicate otherwise? Thus empathy and maternal instinct have much in common.
Maternal instinct is not limited to one’s own children. Anyone who has nursed a baby knows that whenever you hear a baby cry, yours or not, the breasts automatically leak milk. And maternal instinct is not limited to humans. Think of all those tender Facebook posts showing animals of one species nourishing animals of another.
Empathy, a means of inter-relating, is fundamental for our survival and evolution. It is an awareness that we are all dependent one upon the other. Empathy is the basis of a sense of community, of a healthy society. Without it, there is nothing civil about civilization.
A chain is a chain because its links are united…the links alone serve nothing.
The Earth is a Mother. And we are her children. Unfortunately, many of us are ungrateful and bite the hand that feeds us. But it hasn’t always been this way. Many ancient cultures worshipped the Great Cosmic Mother. Because adoring a mother meant adoring life itself.
But, around the fourth millennium B.C., everything changed. Warriors from the north began to invade peaceful cultures. These Indo-Europeans were violent and on horseback. Their aim was to invade, pillage, plunder and annihilate existing customs and beliefs. Male gods began to appear. These gods were angry, vindictive, jealous and punitive. And, above all, they hated women.
With force, these invaders dominated and sought to obliterate nature’s plan of having males and females exist in synergy and solidarity. Our complementary role was lost. The world was “materialized” with the concept of ownership and spiritual needs were met with dogma. The priorities of these invaders were not the priorities of women. Or of nature. As a result, our planet now is in great difficulty.
Ecofeminism is a response, an attempt to repair the damage done. It is an expression of empathy for the environment.
Ecofeminism is a mother nursing her child.
Note: drawings from future publication BEBINA BUNNY AND HER CABINET OF CURIOSITIES.
For related links go HERE