I have just started a course on the understanding of the natural environment. In it we are to given firsthand experience in observing what nature not just in the photographs or in the classroom. The aim of the class is also to show how to make our own instruments for the observation of natural phenomenon.
After the class and during the long drive home I recalled a question that has been puzzling me for two years now – what is the natural environment? It seems to me that every time we talk about the natural environment we talk about it without us – human beings – being involved in it. But are we not a product of the environment? Are we not really just another animal within the animal kingdom?
Sure we separate ourselves from the rest of the animal world. The binary opposites we, humans, use is animal and human. And with these terms we pretend to be rulers of some sort. Our practices show that we feel we have the right to choose how animals live (or die). We simply rank ourselves higher than the animals over whom we believe we own. In short, the world is our slave and property.
This is not new of course. Animal rights as a movement has already pointed this out. Animal testing is a contradiction in itself – the use of animals is justified they are similar enough to us (humans) to make the results valid, yet they are different enough from us (humans) to consider it not cruel to do the types of experiments we wouldn’t do to other humans in the first place. So which is it?
Assuming we are just another animal within the web of life, not one that is at its pinnacle, but one that is only one part of it. So what are we doing to this web and what is our role within this system? If we are to take our present way of living as an indicator then we are like a cancer. Ecosystems generally try to reach a self-sustaining mode. But humans try to destroy as much as possible for the sake of things called economy and nation. Sustainability seems to be the last thing on the minds of economies and nationhood, seeing not the larger picture but choosing a narrow view of life.
One has to ask are we higher creatures or just shortsighted animals within a capacity to not only deceive others but ourselves also? Or perhaps this is nature’s way of culling planetary overpopulation, or if you are religiously inclined God’s sick sense of humour.
5 thoughts on “Human/Nature”
I agree. We are not higher creatures, but many think like they are. The point I was making is that we must recall our humble beginnings as mere animals. Then we may “join” back with the rest of the world.
And thanks for the book recommendation. I’ll look out for it.
Ecosystems, as a system, tend to perpetuate itself without any one part “dominating” for a lack of a better word. But for human beings there is no check. We just continue to use up the resources at breakneck pace. While even at the top of the foodchain, like wolves have, a check system – if they consume too much the scarcity of food will plunge their population through starvation.
But human beings create ways to get more out of each thing. And I am not so sure this is wise. By believing in technology we are deceiving ourselves that we will find solutions.
The story is far more complicated than this, of course. We will have to look into the history of science, economy and politics to get the real picture.
To have concrete underfoot does not mean we were born to like it. If you are rasied with nothing but concrete under your foot and have known nothing but that then sure you will think that it is great. As I said, I don’t trust technology and I don’t believe it is the solution, so genetic engineering does not sit well with me.
We are not higher creatures, because there is no objective higher and lower. Of course, we invented the idea of higher so we could put our egos at the top of the heap.
Anyway, I recommend the book “The End of Nature,” by Bill McKibben.
We are of nature, but instead of acting like a parasite and using up all of the rest of nature that we can, it would be nice if we chose to evolve differently. I wish.
I am not sure what you mean by “Ecosystems generally try to reach a self-sustaining mode.”
Many people like concrete underfoot, not earth. They like technology, not natural things. Nature is just a source of materials to them, I understand. When it becomes possible to use genetic engineering on humans to change our genome, not just for localized medical purposes, but the cells that produce our offspring, then we will have completed the cycle.
Elizabeth, yes, it is a difficult one. But I think being more in tune with our surroundings instead of building or constructing “comfortable” ones that totally shut out nature is the answer. It is amazing how much we miss by having the TV on or from the sound of electrical items we use. It is a kind of pollution, noise pollution.
If we’d only to the beauty of the voice of world then we might respect it more and abuse it less.
i think i will very much enjoy reading your blog as much as i enjoy reading your library.
this is a debate i play with constantly; where do we balance our own animal nature with our knowledge of our impact?
Native Americans speak of a quote that man will suffer the destruction he ingrains into the web of life.
And the law of karma tells us that the actions we perform have consequences that we will sooner or later must deal with.