As a thought experiment, let’s say that Nature is everything that is left when humans are taken out of the equation. If that were the case, there is a lot left to describe, and it’s not all pretty. In fact, for most animals, it’s a fight for resources between and within species. Often, that conflict tears living things apart.
But that is not the whole of it. There are also cooperation, symbiotic relationships, and nurturing. There are the lemur’s care for it’s offspring, the call of the mother duck for it’s three day old ducklings to jump into the water, the smiling faces of the dolphins and beluga whales, and the crows that gather in the trees to share information about their world with each other.
When you put humans back into the mix, you find all of the same struggles and messy confrontations that belong to the rest of the world, similar in kind but often more ornate, accelerated, and amplified. However, there is one key distinction. Humans possess the power of rational thought. We can observe, analyze, reflect, and revise. We can plan our courses of action. We can work towards accomplishing anything we want. We can cherry pick the best parts of Nature, and refine it in profound, positive ways.
So we don’t have to accept the negative model of competition for resources. We can study it, tweak it, experiment with it, and formulate new, less violent ways of relating to the world. I had a teacher once that told me that he chose not to live in a dog-eat-dog world, but a people-helping-people world. I choose that too, with one addition. I also recognize the power that the natural world has to give us strength, comfort, and hope–if that’s how we want it to be. I do.–R