Sunday, July 5, 2009

Nature: the ultimate oppressed group

Well, here in the U.S., the Independence Day holiday weekend is coming to a close. Canada had their Canada Day on the first of this month and many nations around the world celebrate important moments in their history wherein oppression was shed in favor of social or political harmony. Unfortunately, across the globe, there are still people living without the freedoms they deserve and hopefully they will someday reap those benefits.

But there is one group that is still oppressed on a daily basis, the results of which can and are having an impact on the entire planet, and that is the oppression of nature.

Mankind has yet to fully embrace the notion that we are a part of nature, not separate from it. Whether it's our own hubris in being the most "advanced" species on the planet (a debatable notion, for sure) or whether it's the result of religious dogma, man still persists in seeing things as "us and them," or shall I say "us and it." We have perverted the concept of dominion - meaning to protect - to become the worst form of domination, to control and take for our own self-interests. In doing so, we fail to appreciate the impact we have on nature and how nature can impact upon us.

Now this did not happen overnight. Man has taken this approach in the past for centuries but it is in the relatively recent present that we are now understanding the consequences by either actually seeing the drastic results or at least having a better knowledge of the intricacies of nature's web. We are now able to scientifically forecast a dire future if we do not take a different strategy sooner rather than later.

We are part of the little picture, the microcosms that might include the loss of a single plant or animal species, all the way up to the big picture, macrocosms that support our climate, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. We stand perhaps on the cusp of a global realization, that by denying our place within nature, we will certainly face issues that will dwarf all of our own self-interests - political, social, economic, or otherwise.

Nature evolves; it does so to perpetuate itself, to survive. Nature will make adjustments to the climate, the land and seas, the flora and fauna, in response to internal or external factors. And it does so very objectively; there are no favorites. So when we put nature in peril, we are actually putting ourselves in peril.

Now a fatalist might say, "Well, there's nothing we can do. If nature wants to take us out, it will. So you might as well enjoy the ride while you can." But perhaps it's my own human arrogance that says, "No, our fate is what we make." Mankind is the oppressor but it can be the steward, helping itself by helping nature; being a part of nature rather than against it.

Or for you sports fans, here's a metaphor: like it or not, we are part of the ultimate team . . . and the coach is watching. I'd like to survive the next round of cuts. How about you?

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