Does nature know when we care for it, and does it reciprocate that care?

Nature is one of my klaxon words. Whenever I hear it, I wince and worry. This is a harsh reaction, but it comes from good reason.

Let me explain a little.

Nature is ill defined. Everything around us is nature. We are a part of nature. It may look like the world is split into the artificial human constructs and the green and luscious land that has escaped it, but don’t forget that one gave birth to the other. Humanity has not escaped nature, it has just taken it to unexpected places. But nature never had expectations in the first place. It’s a false dichotomy, or at least, it’s not the dichotomy we like to think of it as.

Why are we so addicted to splitting ourselves off from the world that built us? Arrogance? Competitive drive? Do we need an enemy or a utopia?

We love the notion of a fall from Eden. At some point we were in harmony with the world around us, living as equals among the plants and animals. Then everything went wrong. Sin entered the world. We civilised.

We have a lot of self hating mythology, really.

It’s backwards, but we appear to maintain this split, calling out our own society as the bad guy, to justify our badness. By distancing ourselves from the enemy under our feet (and our concrete), we reinforce our unique specialness. Our separateness marks our special ability to do what we want.

We are not unthinking nature. We are worse, but our worseness allows us to be better. Our betterness is arrogance that justifies whatever we want. And what we want is destruction.

So, after much rambling preamble, what would caring for nature even look like?

I can watch my garden grow. I can feed it it and look after it until it starts giving me food. I care for it, and it pays me back.

But my garden, quite explicitly, is not nature.

Even on a grander scale, ecology and conservation are marking human boundaries around pieces of ‘nature’. Making choices about how nature should run in those areas. It’s caring, but it’s also control.

To actually care for nature, we have to acknowledge our place within it. Not just acknowledge, but re-evaluate it. Work it out for ourselves.

We don’t know where we belong. We hang on to our hang ups so we can say we are separate from the world that birthed us, and will eat us when we’re dead.

Our intellect allows us to make these choices, and we think that is enough for us to escape the laws of the land, but we don’t. We just change the scale a little bit.

‘Nature’ is all around us. Our hostile and negative environments are new ecosystems. They are bad for us, but the world understands.

The world doesn’t care. But we can. And we should. Not for the sake of some idealised Eden. But for ourselves and for empathy.

Don’t second guess nature.

Be it.

Illustration by Jaime


About Alex Ava

Joiner of Dots. Player of Games. Unreliable Narrator. Dancing Fool.
This entry was posted in Illustrations by Jaime, Questions by Colewelle. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Does nature know when we care for it, and does it reciprocate that care?

  1. jahschmidt says:

    I think the reason why we have this split between nature and humans is because we may not be a product of nature in the sense of a lifeform that has evolved over eons on this planet. Humans seem to have a very specific role to play, that is, experiencing life as a seperate entity looking out on the world, even though we are now getting to grips with the fact that this isn’t the case – think unity and oneness from a spiritual perspective, quantum entanglement from a scientific perspective. How that came to be is of course a mystery but I believe that is how our “outside of natureness” is so deeply embedded in our psyche. Or it could be a more recent historical tendency dating from Christianity.

    • I don’t know if it’s just my self deprecation writ large, but I tend to think of any ‘humanity as a unique perspective’ belief is just arrogance. I can only see my own consciousness, but am fairly convinced (if just for the sake of allieviating boredom) that there’s much around me that is the same. Life is life. It’s weird to be in it, but that’s what it’s like from everyone’s point of view.
      The mystery is there, the possibility is there, but to hold a point of view as a fact is to sleepwalk into, at best ignorance, and at worst, danger.
      You’ve got to hold onto that uncertainty.
      I am bad at this. But I try.

      • jahschmidt says:

        Well, every single person I have met has been different and held a different set of beliefs, values, ideas etc. (not to mention looked different), this isn’t so much a belief as an observation.

        It’s arrogance to believe that there is much around you conciousness wise that is the same and also that everyone finds life weird to be in – completely impossible to know that. I wouldn’t hold points of view as facts either, just possibilities and ideas.

        The original comment wasn’t a crit on your piece – just me throwing my twopenneth worth in ‘cos this stuff facinates me.

      • Aye, I know. I pondered editing that to try and make it clearer that I wasn’t criticising you either! Left it in because I liked how it was written, even after I realised it wasn’t about you! Sorry.

        It is definitely fascinating stuff though.

        The arrogance I was worrying about (which I’m hugely guilty of) is not of individual humans having uniqueness, its thinking that that uniqueness is unique to humans. We can’t know, we can’t ever know any of it. It’s what’s so wonderful and so damn confusing about the whole thing. All of this stuff is possible, every ridiculous absurdity and illogical weirdness could be the underlying truth, and we’d never be the wiser.

        Or it could all be revealed in the next five minutes, and something provable would finally happen, and the world could be upside down.

        I don’t know if I, or anyone or anything else, is truly conscious. But at least part of me chooses to believe the more interesting option. It’s at least a more functional way of approaching life. I, romantically, and in opposition to my professed universal skepticism, do have some inkling (arrogantly), that whatever it is I feel that seems like life is there in some form in all living things. Just because it makes the world glow a little, and covers my bases from a moralistic point of view. If I accept the notion that I and other people might exist, it becomes much easier to intuit what is and isn’t acceptable, ethical and positive behaviour.

        Sometimes when I look under the surface and remember how illusory this all is/might be, I get terrified. Sometimes I look at the world and myself and see nothing but glorious beauty, stretching out into infinity.

        I can’t even work out if I’m off topic yet.
        Big love, though. Either way.

        (Oh, and as for everyone being different, hell yes, but can I just quote a little bit of rap at you?
        “of course i’m different from everybody else
        and yes, i’m just like everybody else
        “we are all the same”
        we are all people… ”
        It sounds better if you say it REALLY FAST.
        Same same but different. If we didn’t have something in common, we couldn’t talk, or share a world, but if we were actually the same? I can’t even imagine what that would look like.)

        Definitely off topic.
        More love, though.

      • jahschmidt says:

        Ok, with ya, I think. Paradoxes eh. Plenty of them. I tend to take the view that life is in absolutely everything. Grin. Love. Lights out….

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