I’ll cut straight to the chase: most of us are woefully naïve about the incomprehensible brutality of nature. Fawns are eaten while they’re still alive and can feel both pain and fear. Yet many of us humans, myself included, take great pleasure and peace from the natural world. We see a fawn or a seal pup and our hearts melt. We see a wolf and admire her fierce independence. We see a killer whale and are impressed with his intelligence and grace.
So how do we reconcile this dichotomy? How do we temper our admiration with the reality of eat-and-be-eaten?
I’m not sure we do it consciously. We are predators at the top of the food chain. Something in us is wired to separate killing from nurturing. Heck, even some vegans have become absolutely militant about killing and eating meat. But they stop their outrage at killing and eating plants, who have been repeatedly shown to have some kind of awareness of their surroundings. Eons ago I was part of a research team that would make plants “sing” by threatening them with fire. So where does it end? Synthetic food?
Or do we just embrace our naïveté and accept the dichotomy of living on a planet where killing to eat and loving fellow creatures go hand-in-hand? (There are other metaphors I will stay away from.)
We humans are strange critters. This imagination thing is, perhaps, our greatest gift to the world. Life is a precious miracle. Our emotions engender profound awareness of it and lead us to contemplate how it all fits together. And nothing is perfect except everything together.
(fawn: wideopenspaces.com; seal pup: awesomeocean.com)