“There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.”
Here I want to share some passing thoughts about our need for the wild things. Not just because the wild things of nature are beautiful, but because they are our flesh and bones. The recent IPCC report has had me begin putting to words something that’s been forming in me for years.
From what’s came down to us in writing, it’s clear that human history has been speckled all over with instances of strife and difficulty. There have been wars, famines, natural disasters, and on a smaller scale everyday conflicts which are known to almost everybody through experience. Often, these difficulties are found together and co-create one another.
Some would believe that we are now beyond great world wars and massive human suffering, but I fear we are about to enter the most serious trial that humanity has ever faced. Looking ahead, there is a vast darkness approaching. This darkness is made of not only the baleful emptiness of mass extinction, but of the apathy with which people wander on, as if it’s someone Else’s problem.
Can we afford to risk any more of the lives of our cousins in the cradle that is Earth? On looking back, will we be filled with a terrible nostalgia for all the diversity and stability that the growth of healthy ecosystems afforded us? Can we afford to sacrifice the very creatures that breathe life into us, and in many ways make us what we are? As Emerson wrote;
“The wind sows the seed; the sun evaporates the sea; the wind blows the vapor to the field; the ice, on the other side of the planet, condenses rain on this; the rain feeds the plant; the plant feeds the animal; and thus the endless circulations of the divine charity nourish man.”
Humans as nature destroying nature cannot go on with such aplomb when we use more than can be naturally regenerated. This must end unless we feel confident we’ll have the same complacency and equanimity in the wake of floods, crop failures, heat waves, conflicts, mass refugee crisis and the like. Regardless of how many countries away one is from these sorts of troubles, these things end up spreading out to effect us all.
What we see now is only the beginning.
Some people speak naively of our near potential to colonizing space as if a frail outpost on a dead land will be of any use to humanity at large or even to the human spirit. This is a mistake of the highest degree and must be admonished. There is no time for half measures, there is no time to deliberate, now is the time to begin dismantling the status quo.
We must plant the trees that our grandchildren will live under. These sorts of long term group projects are the manifestation of our values and one of the most meaningful tasks human beings can put themselves to. These are the things that are part of our legacy. Not a task for some rudderless short-term gain, but the task of growing towards a future we wish we could inhabit in the present.
Like a person who sees a hungry tiger lunging towards them, we must act if we want to live. We now know pretty well what we need to do and what sacrifices need to be made, it’s only a matter of doing it. Acting in concert as humanity as a whole is needed to avert this catastrophe. Humanity as a whole could be imagined like one large person who has each individual inside him. Is this sort of action possible for us? For example here is a rock. I can pick it up an set it down again without any concern. Can humanity as a whole pick up a rock?
This individual (humanity as a whole) has cancer due to disharmony with the natural order of things, maybe there is little that can be done. Individual cells are stuck in their positions and any radical dissent usually leads to apoptosis. Some cancers survive but most are killed before they start to redirect blood vessels to fuel their growth. The cancer of today has survived and has grown to a late stage where it now infects many different organs of humanity as a whole with its corrupting influence. More resources, more food, more power is given to the cancer which will ultimately leave us with a desiccated corpse. The goal here should not be to create another cancer, but to redirect blood though the individual expression of our values.
The need to preserve our cradle, the ground for our existence is to me the greatest ought of the 21st century, and on it all other things we feel we should be doing are made easier or possible. The fact that a threat as serious as this isn’t even being addressed with half measures can lead one to feel nihilistic, but this is to accept death and not to maintain life. There is still a chance to mitigate the worst, and this is our moral imperative.
The way out of the vast darkness and the feeling it brings is to take action.