The forest for the trees

I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer.
~Aldo Leopold

WARNING: Possibly psycho-spiritual babble ahead. Proceed at your own risk.

This is a hard one for many well-meaning people to wrap their mind around.

Number one: Mother Nature doesn’t give a flying rat’s ass about you, me, or pretty much anything. She is the Matrix. She just is, and does not require belief. To personify Her as something that cares is a human invention. Such an invention can harm as well as help.

Number two: If She is, in fact, a sentient entity capable of thought, you probably will not like it. If She thinks, She thinks like Leopold’s mountain, not as a human.

Corollary to two: If She cares, She cares more for biomes than communities, communities more than species, species more than individuals.

Number three: She probably doesn’t give a fuck what we’re doing. If we fuck it up enough, we kill ourselves, the world we know, and She starts all over again.

Number four: She is not a fucking hippie. Wolves wage war and dolphins gang rape. It’s not always the weak or the old that die, and they don’t always die before they are eaten.

Yes, I still identify myself as a deep ecologist. I still believe that a species, a community, and a biome have the intrinsic right to exist without having to provide some benefit for humanity. I still argue for sustainability. Because I give a shit. I like wolves and dolphins and cats and Quercus spp.

But I can still think like a mountain. I can find a tree both beautiful and hideous.

It’s too easy to get stuck on one or the other. Face it, to be sustainable is to be able to be sustained. To be sustained, one has to persist. Nothing in nature persists indefinitely. Keep this in mind while you argue for sustainability. We can save the biomes we’ve grown accustomed to, but at the same time, we have to realize that one day they must disappear. The only constant is change itself.

This is a topic that may never be grokked completely. It’s cognitive dissonance, something, if I may, that every deep ecologist and environmentalist should find themselves plagued with. What you’re trying so hard to save will ultimately perish on its own. Granted, one may say the same of saving a person’s life. They’ll die, anyway, won’t they? So maybe it’s not so cognitively dissonant at all.

Or maybe I think too much.


2 Responses to “The forest for the trees”

  1. Bardkris Says:

    Normally, I avoid your ‘sustainability’ and environmental ramblings because they seem, well, arguable to me because of this exact post’s reasons. Namely, we may ‘save’ what we have now, but that wasn’t what we always have had, nor will always have, and time-paradox wise, by acting, we always have a chance to ruin something that ‘should’ have been. Perhaps humans are supposed to be destructive things that destroy ourselves and then something else will come along, study us, and learn a valuable lesson and they, the chosen people, will have a useful allegory. I don’t know.

    Still, it does my heart good to know you’re questioning yourself. I still don’t know if what you’re doing is wise, but it makes me very happy to know that you’re thinking.

    In rereading this, it sounds extremely condescending. I’m tired from nanowrimo-ing, so do not choose to rewrite it. Fox, please translate in your head to remove any condescending tone and leave only congratulations. Thank you.

    • cwnmamau Says:

      It didn’t seem condescending at all.

      And this particular issue is something I’ve been arguing with myself about for a long long time. We are, after all, a part of nature, and therefore one could argue that everything we do is “natural.” I’ve actually heard a theory that we’re meant to roam the stars and leave bacterial “semen” on other planets.

      I’ve decided just to run with “sustainability” simply because it’s the way I want to live. Even if the planet isn’t/wasn’t in danger, I’d still probably argue for a life lived in balance with the rest of the biotic community. Because I’m a hippie like that. :P

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