||[31 Oct 2005|02:32pm]
ello all. here is a tone downed rant i wrote a while ago.
I went to the Tall Grass Prairie Nature Reserve in Oklahoma. It was amazing to see the rolling hills full of beautiful native grass!
Throughout the trip, I went around taking pictures of plants so that I could identify them later. While I was doing this, I felt like my senses were coming a little more into tune. I could concentrate a lot more and could see a new plant as I passed it, instead of missing it. It felt really good. Surprisingly, the hot weather didn't bother me, because I was having a blast.
But (the original curse word), I got to thinking like I always do about National Reserves. Before the settlers came to America, the prairies covered most of the central United States. Now, since most of the land has been converted to farmland and cattle land, only 10% of the original prairie land is left. My point is this: most people think of natural reserves as if they are some kind of great thing (and to an extent, yes, they are a good thing), but I really think that reserves are for the most part about Pleasure and Capital. These preserves don’t stop the conditions that caused the destruction of the forests, prairies, streams, etc, which once surrounded them. They really are here just to admire what's left.
Strangely, when I was in the park, I had a feeling that the devastation everywhere on Planet Earth was solved. I thought, look at all this prairie! This must mean that there must be more! I thought, the forests are back from their 500-year cold spell! I knew I was dreaming. You often get that kind of feeling when you are around something so beautiful. National parks give me the illusion that everything is OK. After all, these national parks are ours. There is a unity! We’re all in it together! We all want to save the world from our own technology! Right? But! Lest you forget, this land isn’t ours and neither are the national parks. They are someone else’s. Whose you ask? Oh, those Indians are always complaining. In case I sound too sarcastic, my point is that the National Parks aren’t even ours in the sense that we’ve never had control of what happens to them and in the sense that we are not Native to this land.
So, principle purpose of Natural Parks, it seems to me, is not to particularly preserve the land, but to say: This is what we decided to leave "untouched" for you're viewing pleasure. Hence, "nature" is a sort of a television show. TV makes everything look big and pretty. We go to the spots in the preserve that are socially agreed upon as "pretty spots," and then we leave.
When I was in Yosemite, one of the first things I saw was a golf course. I also saw pop machines and restaurants. Later on, I saw an article in the paper that said that wireless internet connection is now possible in the wilderness. All these things made Yosemite look like a city in the wilderness. In fact, a volunteer at Yosemite National Park told me that most of the people spend an average of two hours in side of the park. Is this a choice? Or is it mindset? I think it's a mindset, because it was not always this way.
As more and more people become accustomed/conditioned to the concrete wastelands called Cities, we become less accustomed to the Real World—the earth. Cities, the defining characteristic of all civilizations, were originally built to keep the barbarians (rebels) and the natural world out and to keep the citizens inside. The modern city is essentially the same thing, but now the barbarians are nowhere to be found and everyone seems keen on living in the cities (many have been forced to move into cites, because they have had (more than likely) their homes destroyed in the name of Progress. You can see this now in Brazil, where millions of people have been forced to leave their homes in the rainforest, because of the ever increasing destruction of the forest—once their home now civilization’s “divine right” of conquest).
With this separation from the planet comes the man-made concept called Nature. Nature is a representation and a creation of civilized man. Sort of like art is a representation of an idea. Civilized humans like their Nature to be pretty and not to muddy. We don't like to have mice in our homes, nor spiders, nor any other bugs (no bugs, no hassles), so we kill them. No mushrooms in our yards, either. Even though, all these things are EXTREMELY important to the eco-system. In fact, our homes are not even designed for these beings. They are designed to keep them out. I would get rather mad if I counted the amount of people who are so proud of the non-indigenous grass they have in their front lawn.
Let’s take an example of what the illusion called Nature really is. Yellowstone National Park is home to the last free roaming wild Buffalo (and the herd isn’t herded by any farmer) herd that hasn’t yet been domesticated or killed. But, sadly, they are being killed because the USDA claims that many of these Buffalo could transfer a disease called brucellosis to cattle that are at the edge of the National Park. Brucellosis is a disease that causes abortions in cattle. With this claim in mind, the state of Montana has killed 3,922 Buffalo; for fear that they will transmit the disease to cattle. Here’s a small note: There has never been a real case or any kind of evidence that Buffalo can even transfer this disease. In another National Park called Grand Teton National Park, cattle and buffalo have mingled together for 45 years, and there has been no cases of disease transfer to cattle.
Right now, as the Buffalo migrate out of the park (towards cattle land), there are hunters who are allowed (by the state of Montana) to shoot any Buffalo that walk out of the boundary of the Park. Basically, any Buffalo that follows her migratory instincts can be shot. This is Nature: Cattle are more important than the ecosystem.
Pretty soon, Earth will become a planet of weeds. Weeds, meaning, something that only hurts the ecosystem. Pretty soon, the main animals of the earth will be cows, chickens, dogs and cats. And plants will follow suit—corn, wheat, rice. In fact, all of this is already true. As of now, civilization has affected 50% of the land on Earth. It has turned billions of acres into human mass (agriculture, cities, roads, etc). This is Nature, a mindset and man-made destroyer. Now, the man made tragedy that will fell the walls of Babylon.
We destroy the Earth like it's some kind of toy to be modified. We've become so bored of the Earth. We splice animal genes in corn, that’s already grown on an already impoverish soil, and we forget how small we as a species really are. On and on and on and on. We become arrogant. Arrogant people don’t often want to give up what they have.
I believe that the destruction of the planet goes much, much deeper than what we are doing to the air. Deeper than global warming. Deeper than any so-called solutions we are presented with (recycling, riding bikes, bio-diesel, etc). Some say that the domestication of humans is what brought on the original trauma that separated us from the planet. I tend to agree with this. When we are wild, in the sense that we adapt to our environment, we are completely immersed in the planet’s cycles.
Throughout my experiences in at Tall Grass, I kept thinking: this is the most peaceful place I've ever been to! Guess what? This is what Tulsa, Oklahoma used to look like! And you can see the plants from the long lost prairie growing in the places where no one mows their lawns or where the pavement allows a plant to grow.
We need to ask ourselves: What is more important? Civilized humans or the planet? This isn't theoretical, either. It’s real. It's the question that should have been asked for 10,000 years. Are the metals in our cell phones (of which the mining has basically caused the killing of millions in the Congo) more important? Most people will say no, but the actions we take are completely different from the answers. Is human chauvinism more important than the Earth? Are 6 billion people, in this over-populated planet, more important than the Earth? The Earth that could kill us in a heartbeat. The Earth that can’t even support all of us (unless, of course, we use pesticides on an already depleted soil and then when we’ve screwed that land up, we can expand; preferably by cutting down another rainforest). The Earth that we’ve betrayed.
What is more important? Seriously. I’m going guilt anyone into this question. I’m only going to lay it out straight. All you need to do is think about.