Sunday, August 12, 2012

What Purpose Do We Serve?

Although I have written on this topic before, I think it merits a return visit, given the environmental disasters currently engulfing the world.

Were it within my power, I would legislate that all people in both elementary and high school, and in the world's corporate boardrooms, be required to watch nature documentaries on a regular basis. That way, they would quickly become disabused of the notion that we are somehow outside of or above nature, rather than simply a part of it.

Last night I watched one entitled, Big Sur: Wild California, featuring stunning images of the flora and fauna that area of the West Coast is famous for. And I was once more reminded, as I always am when watching such documentaries, of the interconnectedness of nature, and the delicate balance that exists when left unmolested.

For example, sharks are vital to our survival because of the role they play in protecting the oxygen-producing capacities of the oceans, and while last night's film did not deal with such dramatic realities, there was a very vivid if implicit reminder of how dangerous human activity can be to the earth's ecosystems. The sea otter, once almost wiped out thanks to trade in their furs, are quite fond of sea urchins. Sea urchins have a rather voracious capacity for kelp, underwater forests of which grow in the Pacific off of Big Sur. Were it not for the otters' presence, the urchins would have full reign, and the kelp would be no more. Just one small example of a truth that permeates the natural world.

This morning at breakfast, I was telling my wife about some of the nature arcana I gleaned from the video, stressing the delicate balance I have just referred to. I said that everything has a role to play, after which she asked rhetorically, "Then what role do humans play in this scheme of things?"

Sadly, the answer is all too clear. With our 'superior intelligence,' the destruction we have wrought in nature we are being reminded of on an almost daily basis.

And, as the meteorologists are fond of saying, "There is no relief in sight."

It is Sunday, and the sermon is now ended.

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