photo by B. T. Newberg (gazing up the gummy trunk of a tree)
Is Nature a loving mother? This week Rua Lupa comes forward with an environmental message of freedom and responsibility.
Pentamera Ardea 23 / 10 B.E. (Friday August 13th / 2010 C.E.)
Nature seems to be perceived as a loving mother who takes care of our every need. Who is waiting and watching to catch us when we fall. Well, I beg to differ. What makes Nature its most wonderful is its indifference. Nature doesn’t care about our personal decisions, if we live one moment and die the next. And I like that. Why? Because it means I don’t have someone constantly watching me and grading me on my every decision or thought. It means that I am free to do what I please within the boundaries of the Laws of Nature i.e gravity, within the Laws of the society that surrounds you (which can change and has changed through the hard works of dedicated people), and of course the moral compass that is all your own. It means that you are solely responsible for everything that you do, with no one to blame but yourself. You are who you make yourself to be, no one or thing can do that for you, that is the beauty of Nature’s indifference.
Being alone in Nature for an extended period of time is one of the best ways to learn this from Nature, as it really does put things in perspective. It makes you realize how vast the world and universe is and how truly utterly small and insignificant you actually are. You begin to feel all the life that surrounds you and know that you are a part of it, not separate or better than it like what civil society teaches, but a part. It makes me feel energized and strong to know that through eras of evolution I am somehow here and a part of this complex network of life. I know that when I sit with Nature, I am where I am supposed to be, involved and a part of the big picture.
In our civilized world we like to think that humanity owns and possesses everything, nothing is unknown to us, nothing is outside humanity’s reach, that the wild spaces are just things to conquer – which you hear all the time when it comes to climbing mountains. The fact is, you can never truly own anything. Possession just means control, and control is just something homo sapiens are utterly good at believing they have. When you really analyze everything you ‘own’, it is only because you and your society believes that you own it. What makes that mouse in the cupboard less of an owner of that house than you? It may not have bought the thing, but no homo sapiens consulted it about trading with it to have it move out of its residence for you to possess it. We bargain and trade for things between our species all the time. But we never consider bargaining or trading with other creatures, because we think we are superior to them, separate from the ecological system. “How can you bargain with other creatures?” You might ask. I am not really saying that you should bargain the way our society perceives bargaining. I am saying that you should consider the life forms that surround you and are connected to you. And I don’t strictly mean spiritual, I mean literal. Where do you get your food? How was your home made? Your clothes? It is all through Nature. There is no denying it, we rely on Nature for all our needs. The problem I am trying to emphasize is that we homo sapiens as a whole, tend to ignore that fact. So no, we shouldn’t ‘bargain’, but we should live in a mutualistic manner with the species we depend upon, and cooperate with the species we naturally compete with. We should relearn how to live with our immediate environment and not just take and take and take until nothing is left for the next generation. That is speciescide – for lack of a better word, and it is because we hold no responsibility for our individual consumption.
Nature also seems to be perceived as something that needs to be taken care of or ‘saved’, especially with this ‘Green Movement’ that was seeded in the late 60’s. Even if the entire earth were to be nuked, Nature would persist. So really, when we talk about ‘saving the planet’, we are just talking about our species. And as much as I like to think we are compassionate toward all living things, we are realizing that what affects one species affects every other species connected to it and eventually it connects to us; and that is the root of it. We care because it catches up to us eventually, at least that is how it is now due to the colossal size of our population. Overall, we should take a real look at ourselves and our society and see it for what it really is. Continual consumption and not giving back so that what we consumed returns. Our populations have become too immense to get away with it any more without receiving consequences. Yes, we should change the way we consume and I am very much behind the ‘green movement’ as an environmentalist/conservationist; we just need to realize that we are, in reality, in it for the species. Because Nature doesn’t give a damn.
Rua Lupa is the creator of the naturalistic path called Ehoah. She also founded the Sault Community Drum Circle, The Gore Bay Drum Circle on Manitoulin Island, and has been a board member of Bike Share Algoma. She loves the outdoors and enjoys sharing experiences with others of the same passion. She is a strong advocate of wild spaces with native species instead of traditional gardens because of a growing problem with invasive species and lack of space and sustenance for our native wildlife. She strives to learn and retain as much as possible about the natural world and how one can live in balance with the immediate natural environment. She endeavors to one day live comfortably with all basic needs met within the natural environment.
Hi Rua, very thought-provoking post. I couldn’t disagree more 🙂
Nature is seen very differently when living in an agricultural society, which controls nature, versus living a “wild” or hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
In any kind of agricultural society, people are insulated from nature, and it’s easy for them to romanticize it to unrealistic proportions. So I see the truth in what you’re saying. However, you’re showing only half the picture.
Living in true wilderness in most biomes mean access to a near endless supply of food, building materials, and other necessities. This is particularly true when living in scattered hunter-gatherer populations who move over the course of a year to maximize available resources.
Having lived this way myself, I’ve seen it firsthand. But beyond my own experience, anthropologists have noted the near total absence of famine among hunter-gatherer societies with access to a large area of wilderness. Wild land has a far greater diversity of edible plans and game animals than any supermarket. If one food source is stricken by pestilence or has a bad year, the wild diet is so diverse that people easily adjust.
Thus, although it is true that Nature doesn’t lit a finger to save someone in trouble, it’s also important to note that nature-as-loving-mother isn’t all romantic imagery. Nature offers us whatever we need to make tools, homes, and awesome seasonal meals. She’s quite the provider that way.
I agree with all your points Drew and fail to see anything that we may disagree on.
Do you have any specific points you wish to point out that you disagree with?
I hope you guys had a great trip!
Good points. Seems like your talking past each other though. If I understand Rua, she’s talking about the ethical freedom provided by nature’s indifference – which she likes. And if I understand you Drew, you’re talking about how nature provides for physical needs (food, shelter, etc.) – which you like. These seem pretty different, though both are important to keep in mind for a balanced view of nature.
Plenty of things to like to go around. 🙂
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