Is This The End of Wild?

Trees and Snow

Taming Nature by Nancy Lankston

I like to spend time camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. I love that place. But the last time I camped there, I came away sad. The hiking trails at RMNP are badly damaged from too many hikers. The campground is stripped of every bush and flower; only the hardiest old pine trees still survive. There is very little natural life left anywhere near the campground. I was haunted by the nagging thought that humans destroy Nature wherever we go.

People have been trying to manage and control the beautiful wild places on earth for generations. But we always seem to end up destroying huge pieces of Nature in the process of trying to preserve and micro-manage it. Environmentalists preach about man’s destruction of Nature all the time. It is sad to realize that a tree hugger like myself can add to the destruction without even realizing it.

I believe that we lost an important connection between humans and Mother Nature when we stopped sleeping on the ground and hunting in the forest every day for dinner. We lost something valuable when we got “civilized.”  And now, with every piece of wildness that we pave over or fence in, we lose even more connection. With every choice we make to ride in a car instead of walking, and with every streetlight that we keep burning all night long, we lose our understanding of the value of wild places.

Somehow we forget that every drop of water we drink and every bite of food we consume is a gift from Nature. We forget that Mother Nature provides everything that sustains our lives. We forget… Is this our proverbial fall from paradise, this act of forgetting?

I look around at everything humans have done to our Earth in the name of progress and I wonder. We seem to have a terminal case of amnesia; we forget that humans are intrinsically a part of Nature. Is this a Christian oops, this idea that humans have dominion over this planet? Where did we come up with the notion that we must tame and subdue and manage every other creature on Earth? Whatever happened to the Christian concepts of kindness and sharing? Apparently those ideals don’t apply to plants and animals.

I shouldn’t pick on Christianity. It’s not like Jews, Buddhists, Hindus or Moslems have a history of being any kinder to our Earth. Most religions act like the human body is a necessary evil rather than a divine miracle. Is it any surprise that those same religions view the body of Mama Earth like a necessary evil to be tamed and controlled?

Can we stop trying to tame Mama Earth? Can we just STOP?  Instead of seeing life as a battle of humans against Nature, can we wake up and connect with the wisdom and wonder of Nature? It is the wisdom and wonder of Nature that makes life on Earth possible!  When will we realize that destroying Nature is as dumb as cutting off our own arm? Are we wise enough to finally choose cooperation over domination?

I know in my heart that I am not separate or distinct from Nature.

This single simple idea feels so critical to me.  But what will it take before I start living like I believe that? When will I start working with Nature, actively listening to Nature, looking to Nature for my answers?

I wonder, what else is possible? Can I learn how to partner and work with Mama Earth rather than doing things to her? It is time to try. Because the truth is, I cannot survive without Nature. Nature and I are one.