It was one of the most emailed and shared NY Times articles this month. It has set off a frenzy of opposing responses from religious groups and from folks who believe in life on other planets – – along with others who are in violent agreement. I read it the day it was published (May 2nd). I found it interesting that for a man clutching the fence (The Believer of Convenience), it has been looming in my consciousness since then. And, like Lightman, it frightened me too.
The tornadoes that have been devastating parts of the South and Midwest, just weeks after a deadly mudslide in Washington, demonstrate once again the unimaginable power of nature…
…Aren’t we a part of nature, born in nature, sustained by the food brought forth by nature, warmed by the natural sun? Don’t we have a deep spiritual connection with the wind and the water and the land that Emerson and Wordsworth so lovingly described, that Turner and Constable painted in scenes of serenity and grandeur? How could Mother Nature do this to us, her children?
…Yet despite our strongly felt kinship and oneness with nature, all the evidence suggests that nature doesn’t care one whit about us. Tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions happen without the slightest consideration for human inhabitants…Our comfort with nature is an illusion.
…In the other direction, nature is constantly given human qualities. Wordsworth wrote that “nature never did betray the heart that loved her.” Mother Nature has comforted us in every culture on earth.
…I would argue that we have been fooling ourselves. Nature, in fact, is mindless. Nature is neither friend nor foe, neither malevolent nor benevolent.
…Nature is purposeless. Nature simply is. We may find nature beautiful or terrible, but those feelings are human constructions. Such utter and complete mindlessness is hard for us to accept. We feel such a strong connection to nature. But the relationship between nature and us is one-sided. There is no reciprocity. There is no mind on the other side of the wall. That absence of mind, coupled with so much power, is what so frightened me on the sailboat in Greece.
…we should not be concerned about protecting our planet. Nature can survive far more than what we can do to it and is totally oblivious to whether homo sapiens lives or dies in the next hundred years. Our concern should be about protecting ourselves — because we have only ourselves to protect us.
Read entire article: Our Lonely Home in Nature
- Image Credit: Tony Harratt Photography. Storm in Liverpool Bay.
- Related Quote: “The universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us. That’s why we have to care about each other.” ~ David Levithan