"We have to shift attitudes from promoting extermination and destruction to promoting nurture and preservation. Life is fragile."
Today I heard an interview with a group of learned scientists who issued a warning to the world that we are on the brink of environmental catastrophe.
Not 'news' really.
They announced that saving the planet is not just about addressing climate change or plastic waste or over-fishing. It's about everything. Some of us knew that all along, but it can take science a little while to catch up with those who have an empathy for the natural world around them. I'm sorry if that sounds incredibly smug but I do believe that simple truths are often missed in the quest for hard facts and figures. It doesn't necessarily take a scientist to highlight these truths, though at least when backed by science more people seem to listen.
In spite of the message being shared widely, it will take a whole lot of effort to persuade the disconnected majority that nature, the planet - and we - are in trouble.
Detached from nature
And that trouble began when the human race became detached from nature. How did that happen? It's hard to say but it coincided with the arrival of technology and the fashion for greed. The 'must have' society, that has flourished really quite recently, expects instant indulgence at any cost.
That is at odds with the natural order of things, nature provides enough but cannot hope to satisfy the demand of those who want too much. For those people, nature seems to be incidental and disconnected from their lives. This detachment quickly turns into indifference towards the the natural world and then people begin to forget the basic laws of cause and effect.
Intolerance of nature
Now, tragically, that initial indifference towards nature has tipped into intolerance. An intolerance of nature means that for many people nature has become an obstacle to progress. And this is why we see cruelty towards wildlife and destruction of its habitat to make way for more human infrastructure. If that continues, undoubtedly there will be no way back from the brink. Humankind will survive for a while, mostly ignorant of our imminent demise, while life around us perishes at an alarming rate. We are already seeing it now in the devastating population declines of insects and the extinction of many species. Then it will be our turn of course because we are an integral part of nature - whether we choose to recognise that or not.
Is disconnection from nature a disease?
I recently read a very illuminating article by the renowned author Dr Steve Taylor in which he puts forward a theory that this disconnection from nature is in fact a disease, a type of psychosis. He calls it ecopsychopathy. "On an immediate level, ecopsychopathy results in a degradation of our living environment which causes dislocation and unease," he says, "on a more macrocosmic level, ecopsychopathy threatens the survival of the human race. The end point of our exploitative and manipulative attitude towards the natural world is surely the complete disruption of the fragile eco-systems on which our life depends. This disruption is underway already, resulting in the mass extinction of other species.... and if it isn’t checked, human life will become more and more challenging, until we suffer cataclysmic consequences."
It is a real shocker isn't it? Probably because it rings, loudly, the bells of truth.
Being kind to life is the key to our survival
This 'impending doom' is what compels me to write about the problem as I see it.
This is why, in my very small way, I campaign against the cruelty that we, as human beings, inflict on wildlife through our disconnection with nature and the widespread acceptance of killing any creature that interferes with our desire to put what we want above all else.
For me, being aware of the fragility of life and being kind to that life is the key to our own survival.
This is why preservation of life, even a small individual life - no, especially a small individual life - must be at the centre of all that we do.
The human obsession with 'managing' and 'controlling' wildlife is clumsy and terribly cruel, causing imbalance while extinguishing life.
We have to shift attitudes from promoting extermination and destruction to promoting nurture and preservation.
Life is fragile.
Dr Taylor is a 'glass half full' kind of chap, he sees a 'cure' for the unsettling disconnection many have with nature. "Perhaps," he says, "we are beginning to remember something that other peoples have always known: that we don’t live in the world, we are part of it."
I hope he's right. But time is running out.
We must, right now, realise we are indeed part of the world we live in, part of the whole fragile, delicate web of existence.
We need to repair the damage, to nurture the life.
We need to be kind.
"Kindness, I've discovered, is everything in life"
Isaac Bashevis Singer
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