There are two kinds of people in the world: people who think oats are a sweet breakfast dish, and people who think oats are just another ingredient. (Okay, there are three kinds of people in the world if you count all the people who don’t like oatmeal, but I’m tryin’ to be metaphorical-like.) The first kind of person has an idea about oatmeal as a delicious AM repast, that it’s best with brown sugar and maybe some cream or raisins, or some fresh fruit, and should be eaten in the morning. The second kind of person thinks, “oats=grain=plain flavored ingredient,” and tosses in some coarse sea salt and pepper, a pat of butter or dollop of rice vinegar, a spoonful of capers, and has it on the side with fried pork-chops and a lovely steamed broccoli.
What you should take away from this is that the oats don’t care. You can eat sweet oatmeal every day for breakfast, or you can use the oats in a savory dish, or you could even feed them to a horse! How you approach them is totally up to you!
Take the way different people see “captial-N Nature.” Some people think of Nature as this abstract force, this benevolent entity that works in “balance” and corrects its own errors, so they worship it, give it a primary significance in their worldview; maybe they’re “neopagans” or environmentalists or whatever. Or maybe they think of Nature as a resource: something to be exploited, logged, farmed, turned into pastures or developments. Thing is, if you think about it, it’s the same thought process. The person who worships nature as some benevolent Gaia is thinking of nature the same way as the person who thinks it’s okay to clear-cut a rainforest to graze cows. This ain’t a value judgement; it’s an illustration of the perception that nature is a monolith. Nature isn’t a monolith, though, any more than oats are specifically for breakfast.
All “nature” is, is a constructed layer you dropped on top of a category I like to call “Things That Happen.” Nature isn’t a Meal, it’s an Ingredient. It can never be “out of balance” in-and-of itself, it can only be “out of balance” insofar as it pertains to keeping humans alive. There’s no Nature, there’s only “Things That Happen.”
Think about it: there’s no such thing as an “invasive species”— sometimes animals move around, and plants, too, and they edge out animals and plants that were living in the area before. If humans weren’t around to care and participate in the process, it’d just be plants and animals moving around and finding new homes. Doesn’t mean anything except you’d better start learning how to live with the new animals and plants. Fact is, you could establish a one-world Gaia-worshipping environmental super-state, or you could clear-cut all of the trees and make all the oceans into poison, and “nature” wouldn’t care one way or the other.
But here’s the important thing: *you* would care. Because you need the trees to help make air, and the oceans for fishing and keeping the weather acting normal for you, and for your kids. People need to stop pretending like they care about “saving nature,” when what they really want to do is “save the humans.” Saving the humans isn’t about “saving the environment.” Environment doesn’t need “saving”– it’ll be here no matter whether you’re part of it or not. What saving the humans is about, is learning how to interact with Things That Happen in the most adaptable, sufficient way possible for you and your family.
That’s why this devotion to keeping things “natural” is a little weird. If “natural” is so great, how come you would die so quickly if you were dropped into the Amazon basin with no cultural context for survival? (You would die.) You know what else is “natural”? Bedbugs. Bullet ants. Cancer. (See, claiming you found a “natural” cure for cancer is like saying “I found out that sour cream tastes really good with sour cream!” And, to turn the tables, if humans are “natural,” your average pharmaceutical is just as “natural” as your herbal remedy, or sugar water, or whatever you’re selling.) Sure, a lot of chemicals are bad, but they’re bad because they’re unhealthy, not because they’re “natural.” If some company stopped putting butylated hydroxanisole in your food and decided to to replace it with poison oak, wouldn’t you be just as concerned, if not moreso?
What I’m getting at is that there’s this whole conversation your culture is having with itself that’s based on a false premise, that there’s some kind of “balance” that needs to be maintained or restored between the “natural” and “unnatural” worlds. Really, there’s just a World you’ve got to learn how to live in if you want God to keep experiencing Things That Happen through human consciousness.
But what does that mean? Well, it could mean different things for you. It might mean, if you’re having a difficult time, that you might need to buy cheap food instead of “organic food” for a while, because “organic food” is really expensive. It means depending on science medicine instead of “natural cures” because science medicine is natural. It means thinking about saving a local forest not because you want to save “nature” or keep things in balance, but because you want to save humans. Talking about it this way makes the whole thing seem more important, doesn’t it?
It also means you’d do well to stop romanticizing Nature, which is (remember) not a Thing. Remember, I’ve been telling you that if you wanna get what I’m saying, you have to forget everything you’ve already heard about religion, and that includes “nature religion.” You can be all Wiccan and such, but it’d do you well to keep in mind that you’re worshiping head lice and toxoplasmosis along with pretty white stags and noble-looking wolves, and that clean, treated water and air conditioning are pretty nice to have. Sure, there are spirits that live in the woods and the desert and the ocean, but they’re not “Nature Spirits,” they’re “Things That Happen Spirits.” (And worshiping the natural world with Goddesses and such is fine if it works for you, but it’s really your Spooky Lady and Spooky Man you’re worshiping, not “nature.”)
This might not mean a damned thing to you, but if you’re gonna learn to live and adopt in the coming times, it’ll be really helpful for you to start thinking this way. All your calendar stones and yearly rituals and sun-and-moon holidays won’t amount to a hill of rutabagas if the growing seasons go all wonky and all the tastiest fish are dead.
Hee hee! More later, maybe even tomorrow!
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Some Words Epilogue