The Symbioment

Birdsnest Fern


At both the microscopic scale and the macroscopic, life has no ‘environment’, if the environment is defined as that which is outside of or surrounds our life. The term, the ‘environment’, makes no sense [From the OND: en·vi·ron: To encircle; surround: The vast desert environed the oases. Middle English envirounen, from Old French environner, from environ, round about: en-, in; see en-1 + viron, circle (from virer, to turn; see veer1); ‘ment’ = indicating state, condition, or quality].

Our human life is interrelated and engaged in maintaining a constant balance between the micro (microbiomes), the meso (coherent bodies) and the macro (macrobiomes). When all that interaction is ‘balanced’ and non-toxic, we are healthy, when it becomes imbalanced, we experience ill health. The health metaphor applies at all scales.

Our language and thinking have evolved on the assumption that we are not in the environment but are islands separate from it. It is this imagined separation that supports the illusion that humans can own and control that which surrounds them. It is time to redirect our language to reflect the reality of our total immersion in nature and natural processes. As a consequence of the new scientific knowledge of symbiotic co-existence, I submit that we actually live within the ‘symbioment’. This term comes from ‘symbiosis’ meaning ‘to live together for mutual benefit’.

‘Symbioment’ is similarly derived from the Greek sumbiosis or companionship (sumbioun, to live together, and sumbios, living together).  Plus, it has derivations linked to bios, meaning life; and ‘ment’ providing a process or condition. It is a recognition that at its foundation, life is all about the sumbios or living together with each other and other types of beings. Life works with life to further life. That is now the philosophical and scientific basis for how we can think about everything else. We must abandon the ‘environment’ which does nothing but perpetuate our separation.