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The interdependence between human and seeds

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Boyang Su


31 October 2014

The interdependence between human and seeds

The book, all over creation, told an interesting story between human and seed. Yumi, the protagonist, ran away from home at 14 and came back 25 years later. When she came back with three children, Yumi met her sick parents, Lloyd and Momoko, best friend, Cass, the hippie activists, and even her middle school teacher who slept with her and then abandoned her, Elliot. Written with different perspectives, the book narrated a vivid story about a genetic engineering protest happened in Yumi’s house. The book dug deeply into the interdependence between identity and environment, the balance between culture and nature. In most part of the book, Ozeki was talking about how human beings and the nature are equally created by the “lord” and how much they resemble each other. However, at the end, Ozeki suddenly referred to the difference between human and plants.


The whole book used a lot of comparison about human and the nature. From the very beginning, in the first paragraph said “Imagine the planet like a split peach, whose pit form the core, whose flesh is mantle, and whose fuzzy skin is crust” (Ozeki, 3). In the following content, the writer wrote about how Cass looked like potatoes when she was young. Further, the writer was talking about the promiscuity of squashes and when Yumi showed Momoko the cross-bred squash, “she pointed to Ocean and Phoenix” and said “Like them. All mixed up”(Ozeki, 118). These are not simply personifications, all the metaphors revealing the similarity between human and nature suggested the writer’s attitude toward the relationship between human and nature: human and nature can equally represent each other. How should human beings identify themselves in the environment? Human beings should be treated as equally as the other living beings in the environment. There is no so-called superiority of human.


As the writer further addressed the question in part four, “seeds contain the information necessary to perform the most essential of all alchemies, something that we cannot do: They know how to transform sunlight into food and oxygen so the rest of us can survive” (Ozeki, 171). “Symbionts. We depend on plants. They depend on us. It’s called mutualism” (Ozeki, 124). Absolutely, human can’t rule over other living being in the environment, subverting the subtle balance of nature. Human depends on plants to survive, and plants also need human’s help to flourish. Moreover, there’s also an inner emotional bond between plants and human. The seeds and plants in the little garden defended Momoko’s only memory and motivated Llord to live on and recover.


However, people are now developing genetic engineering, trying to control and design the gene of plant. In order to seek interests, producers even invented a kind of seed that kills its own embryos, Terminator, totally against the rule of nature. Just like how Yumi’s father treated her: treating her “like a potato”, trying to shape her into his ideal daughter instead of respecting her nature. So, respect is in need in the “contact zone” between father and daughter, between human and the environment, especially when one of the two sides is vulnerable.


“Our seeds contain our beliefs. That’s why we urge you to continue to save them and propagate them and pass them on to others to do the same, in accordance with god’s plan. In this way we chose to praise our Lord and to fulfill his design – of which mankind is just one small part.” (Ozeki, 302). It is Lloyd’s belief that everything is designed by the Lord, human beings and plants are equal and the Lord is the only one who has the right to control and change the world. Besides the Lord in religion, everyone should have a “Lord” in their heart, a kind of reverence for life, for the nature, for the environment, reminding you of respecting all the living beings, including a plant, a fetus and an embryo. The only thing we should do is protect them, like Momoko striving to preserve the diversity of plants and Lloyd mentioning “Never taking out more than you gave back” (Ozeki, 254).


Throughout Lloyd’s lifetime, he was propagating that human and plants are equal in a subtle harmonic balance of human and nature. Every human characteristic, experience can be compared to some features of plants. But the words he said when he was dying struck me, “I don’t want … to be a vegetable ….” (Ozeki, 352). There should have been something different between plants and complex human beings functioned with intelligence and adaptability. Seeds could just passively take in was the soil the farmer gives it, largely affected by the surrounding environment. However, human beings are more flexible. Undeniable, humans are also significantly impacted by the environment, for instance, the strict and rigid environment Yumi was brought up influenced her to be rebellion and impaired her ability to understand love and freedom. Human can select what they want to take from the environment and give back to the environment, like Cass, she grew up in a tragic environment with a violent father and an indifferent mother but became a sympathetic, responsible and caring person. Different from the simple one-way effect of environment on plants, the mutual influence of environment and human beings is more complicated.


In the book, Ruth Ozeki demonstrated a sophisticated story regarding identity and environment. Human and nature depend on, support and represent each other in an interdependence relationship. In some aspects, plants can resemble human. But in general, human beings are more complex than plants and seeds. No matter what, plants and human beings are equally designed by the “Lord” and we should respect and give back to the nature.


Works Cited

Ozeki, Ruth L. All over Creation. New York: Penguin, 2003. Print.