We’re Closer Than We Think

by Handsome Matt

We must abandon the puritanical inspired idea of “wilderness.” We’ve made some progress in redeeming that term, but the fact that we differentiate between developed areas and wild areas creates a dangerous disconnect.

By demarcating areas as wild, natural, wilderness; we’ve then marked areas as man-made, tame, artificial. This simple term immediately removes us from the natural world. Like the takers in Ishmael, we no longer work within the ecological bounds of nature.

This is all well and good if we have a measure of understanding and responsibility. Right now, we don’t. It’s impossible for our governments to work beyond a ten year window (quickly dwindling to four) and individuals ourselves are getting to the point of being unable to think about tomorrow. We’ve regressed personally, as we’ve progressed culturally.

I noted this idea as being puritanical. And it is. When the first European settlers arrived, they viewed the “wilderness” as the home of the devil. Of ghosts and evil things. By conquering and subduing it (ie: destroying it) they were doing the work of God. We’ve thrown off the other Puritan trappings regarding religion and sex, why not this one?

What I envision, and what I strive for; is harmony. Working within the natural world to better our lives and the world around us. Why delineate between wilderness and manmade? It’s interesting that we deforest areas to build corporate parks that then are landscaped to mimic the area that was just demolished.

This notion of “wild” is completely man defined. Every city has wildlife in it, up to and including medium to large predators (ie: coyotes, wolves, bears and mountain lions) yet we still think that because there are buildings and roads and the accoutrements of civilization that is in fact tame.

Do you know how many people died of wolf attacks and bear attacks last year on average? 2. Over the last hundred years, 1 person has died from a wolf attack and 1 person has died from a bear attack every year.

Do you know how many people died from traffic incidents? An estimate from the NHTSA shows that in the first half of 2009: 16,626 people died in traffic incidents.

Yet we’re more terrified of bears and wolves than we are of cars? We should be freaking out every time we see an automobile. Women should be asking for Dramamine tablets before riding, children should be panic-stricken, clutching to a sign post refusing to cross the streets. Yet we get into our cars, buckle our seatbelts, surround ourselves with the supposed safety of man made civilization and feel safe.

Let me posit this idea: If we would stop considering ourselves disconnected to the world around us, and start searching for the best solutions then the world would actually be a better and more beautiful place!

Humanity’s great ability is this: to refine and improve processes to their fullest and best potential. Instead of fighting with nature, what if we worked to improve nature? To implement changes and processes that enhance, and integrate the world around us into our everyday lives?

I’m not calling for the end of humanity or our everyday lives. Quite the opposite, I’m calling for us to thrive! To reconnect ourselves into the pulse and cycle of nature, to unlock and understand its mysteries. To delve the depths of knowledge and experience, and improve on the work of Mother Nature. And to know when not to interfere. To allow our world and ourselves to reach equilibrium again for the betterment of all parties involved. From the microscopic to the macroscopic.

That is what I believe humanity’s role is, in the world around us.