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.