Before I get started, let me just say thanks for all the support shown for my little cousin Elisa. The readers of this blog matched my sponsorship goal in just a couple of hours. I'll never be able to explain adequately how much your fiscal and moral support mean to me. You'll all be in my thoughts on June 3.
And now, on with the show!
As a human being, are you part of nature or not?
I was talking to a university scientist last spring and the fellow had a lot of astonishing things to say.
Now he was a plant scientist with a solid education and years of experience in his field. A very conscientious fellow, and very interested in nature.
Or rather, interested in a particular ideological conception of nature.
For he was convinced that humans are destroying the planet with global warming and acid rain. That modern farming and ranching is one of the biggest threats to the survival of the planet. That he and his like-minded colleagues were pretty much the only ones who were keeping the planet alive, that they were vastly underappreciated (and underpaid) and represented the thin green line fighting a losing battle against the ravages of evil humans.
It was a magnificent speech, and clearly one that he practiced on a daily basis.
Most astonishingly, he was convinced that neither he, nor any other human, was a part of nature. That humans have evolved beyond nature to the point that we have the ability to dictate terms and control every aspect of the ecology of the planet.
The solution to fixing the planet, he avowed, was dead simple. Stop farming and ranching, put everyone to work in community gardens, and go to electric cars.
That’s your tax dollars at work, my friends.
As it turns out, his concept of nature exists only in the minds of people who believe with all their heart that they stand apart from nature. They have a Disneyesque conception of nature as an eden-like sylvan glade, a place where it’s always warm and green and sunny and nice. When they leave their offices and travel away from the campus and the city and they behold the reality of nature, it appears to be flawed, and all the non-green, non-warm, non-sunny and non-nice things are assessed to be the ravages of mankind.
This fellow I’m describing is admittedly an extreme example. I don’t think he really believes everything he says. I think he’s far more interested in dictating what people do and how they live than in studying and understanding nature, which is his actual job description.
Nevertheless, he and his like-minded fellows are influential experts, and their message resonates with a lot of people -- mostly those urban and suburban types who don’t get outside very often. In other words, with most modern first-world people.
This man-apart-from-nature notion is pretty commonly held, at least at a subconscious level. Most of us live in houses or apartments and get around in automobiles. We get our warmth and light and ability to move about by operating clever switches. We forage for food and clothing and other supplies in brightly lit buildings, bustling with other humans. Nature seems far away. The sylvan glade can only be visited at great expense, or viewed by turning on the television or visiting a social media site on the internet.
Most people are smart enough to know better, and can see how false the apart-from-nature notion is. But the narrative is pervasive, and in an ironic way feeds into the natural anxiety people have about the precariousness of their existence. I don’t think modern, first-world humans think about it often, but most of us do realize that if the clever switches ever stop working we will be in for a world of woes.
I think that most modern, first-world humans realize that they depend on a massive infrastructure which, in turn, depends on nature. Most folks have little understanding and less experience of either. So there’s a lot of anxiety there, just beneath the surface of conscious and objective thought.
“What if the doomsayers are right? Someone should do something. I can’t because I’m not an expert. Please, somebody fix it so I can live my life without anxiety!”
Well, something to think about.
New baby calf this morning.
Rainy morning, too. Which is nice.
And now Mom and I are off to the ophthalmologist for her final-final pre-pre-op visit. Knife drops Monday.