Man’s Place in Nature
At this moment in time Man has become “top dog” in his relationship with the earth and the earth’s visible creatures. In doing so, we have appropriated for ourselves a very large part of the Earth’s surface and harvested most of its stored energy reserves. Our numbers have increased to the point where it seems every new human pound of flesh removes a pound of flesh from the remaining other creatures. Our dominance increases exponentially, so that within a few more generations we shall be able to link arms, stand together and sing “We are the World”.
Our motivation for this collective effort has been and remains our mortal need for a full belly, a warm bed, and a grand view of the mountains and sea from our windows. With this as our flag and our motto we have almost conquered the world.
Yet from our mountain top view we can look down and back and see the results of our effort. We see untold numbers of our own kind who have been ground under in our march to the top. That seems to be because, in the chaos of our march, their motivations came into conflict with ours. Or perhaps more cogently, "they got in our way". More logically, their motivations and resources were weaker than ours.
In the gaps opened by these rents in our human fabric we can see a trampled planet, the holes of mining with their seeping poisons, and the gullies and swamps of erosion. We cannot see, but do feel the stinging release of radioactivity from rocks that were formerly buried and diffused, now concentrated and scattered over the surface of the planet. Even the sky we notice is now fogged with the exhale of our march to dominance. Our full belly turns sour with the acid of our situation.
McCarrison had two groups of rats. The rats fed the Hunza diet had small healthy litters and formed loving families, the rats fed the Hindu diet had large litters and soon, their cages filled up with snarling and combative rats who ate their young. We humans are running out of Hunza food. We are victors without spoils and shocked that so many of us are demanding their fair share.
With a deep breath we take in the realization that many individuals among the teeming masses of our own kind have declined in every sense. The damage wrought by our civilization encompasses our own health and level of being. Cancers, we know, come from the mining, the burning and the chemists. Our very minds are being distorted by radio waves, exciting pornography, good movies and bad parenting. Meanwhile, television shows us murders and wars that seem to be increasing in a frightening fashion. Too many have been wrongly parented, wrongly educated, and wrongly fed. Video games have trained many in killing, and world armies employ them as soldiers or mercenaries. How does one coming from that milieu evolve into Buddha?
All this has occurred because we have identified with our bodies and separated ourselves from Nature. If we had established a connection with our higher nature we would have encountered a “Conscience” which would have prevented all this.
I could not write about this if I had not, in a small way, begun to seek my own place in Nature. For seven years I’ve approached this on 1.16 acres near a small city in Oklahoma. I’ve been paying $27 each year to the state for a nursery license and so have named the 1.16 acres Plants Alive.
Here I’ve planted gardens, trees and shrubs, berries and grapes. I’ve let half the land go without mowing for three years but not entirely back to nature because I destroy undesirable growth like the thorny non-native thorny pears. I’ve planted pecan, pine, plum, and slippery elm on that half and have weeded out many redbud trees. [Because the beautiful mother redbud wants the whole field for her progeny. (Rather like us.)}
I’ve brought in hundreds of plant species. Two cultivars of amaranth scatter so many seeds that they come up everywhere and can blanket the good spots in my cultivated ground with their fecund sprouting. In that capacity they join the lambsquarters which I eat and eventually try to control with the machete. Henbit, chickweed, bedstraw and tiny little maple trees in my tended beds are just as greedy as the plants in the field. Medicinal perennials like tansy, comfrey, stinging nettle, and American elder send our powerful underground runners and they too want more than their share. Trying to grow vegetables amidst this and a surrounding sea of Bermuda and Johnson grass is a hard battle with hands and hoes and most modern gardeners get better yield than I do. Better yield for themselves that is; I get better yield for Great Nature and grab some for myself.
The acre we bought with two green maples, a declining redbud tree and “so so” grass is now a clammering verdure of more species than I can count. Thick everywhere, and growing in one season to 8’ tall. There are more flowers on my acre than there are on the surrounding 50 put together. Here Nature feeds a lot of insects and the birds and amphibians which eat them. Larger animals, moles, possums, raccoons, and rats patrol and feed here at night. A huge rat snake helps to keep the vermin away but has also enjoyed some of my fresh eggs. Some of the hens that laid those eggs were enjoyed by a bobcat that visited after the snake. Pests? I can live with the insect problems except for the ones that jump on my dog and then on to me. I pick off the ticks with my fingernails and put plaintain on my flea bites. There are few insect outbreaks in my garden; no Japanese beetle or caterpillar disasters like my neighbors have had, because I build my soil and work for nature as well as myself.
There is tremendous flux going on at Plants Alive. Great Nature is seeking a balance. She has been so hurt that she no longer cares about including Man in that balance. Many plants thrive and then flare out. Overall tree species seem to be the top contender for space and energy, but in the three dimensional space of light, many species are positioning themselves to survive in a thick forest. That’s to be expected in the Ozark foothills. In the midst of this flux the 1.16 acres is full of remarkable beauty and tremendous solar receptivity. The flow of life energy in this one small plot has quickened and it includes me.
Great Nature also works harder than I can. I am just one man, 70 years old I will not succeed in finding my proper place in nature. I still have to use fossil fuels just to remain here. Before long I will be gone. Eventually most of my plantings will die out, the greenhouse will rot and collapse, and the house will be abandoned. Without city water, nature does not favor man’s using Plants Alive as a place to dwell. My years of effort to find my place in nature will have become like a seed sprouting and then quickly withering. But something has come of my effort. There is a response to the terror of the situation.
Great Nature has defined a pathway leading to our place in the world. The first step is that we must feed ourselves, literally. We should work in groups, but the food we consume should be from where we live, and in its season. This can be started now before the collapse. It will be harder to do it afterwards.
It must be done based on principles of respect toward nature. The use of plastics, petroleum fuel, and manufactured products must end quickly. This action will provide an immediate healing and regeneration of the Earth wherever and to the extent that it is practiced. Growing our own food will now require that human beings care for the earth in an intimate way. Composting, planting and erosion control will replace industrial agriculture.
We are going to have to ponder how we can relate to the one and two brained creatures who share our space. Foxes will eat our chickens. Snakes will lurk. Grasshoppers will want our corn. We will wish to train our dogs, horses and oxen so that our burden is lessened, but we will have to treat them as brothers. They, too will have to be well fed and their manure along with ours must be treated consciously so that the life or the soil is also supported.
The changeover begins with many levels of self denial. For now all our tools are from the unacceptable former way of life. Without purchasing new, we must use what we have and then find and reuse what the former world has discarded. Plastic tools are the worst, offering only a brief period of use, but a lifetime of toxic pollution. We will find it hard to do away with plastics because without them we there are no hoses or irrigation pipe. Soon all greenhouses will have to be made from used window glass.
That’s as nothing compared to the loss of fuel. It turned out that the planet Earth needed her petroleum. She still has half of it left and most of that she will keep because our “industrial know how” hasn’t found an acceptable way beyond sucking from shallow underground pools through steel straws. The hideous fracking and tar sand mining both use more energy then they return and the “Dakota” people are about to stop it in its tracks.
Our rural communities could form “Watershed Associations”. These organizations will be local communities where all interior fences have been removed. At first these associations may have to retain perimeter fencing as a defense against the former world. The size of the association will vary and change, but could be the distance a man could walk in a day. Around here they would need to be many hundreds or even thousands of acres. The removed fencing would be reused to protect gardens, orchards, corrals and dwellings. This will allow a return to a proper form of grazing. Many family members and friends will be arriving from the cities. Some of them must become herders, living with and managing livestock, perhaps corralling them at night. The Earth will be properly manured in harmony with Nature’s law of reciprocity. Properly bedded animals will yield a wealth of compost which will allow an extra gear of productivity from Nature’s bounty. The rest of us can be healthfully occupied building check dams, ponds, developing springs, gardening, harvesting firewood, and replanting trees. There will also be milking, cheese making, and animal slaughter. Did I forget cooking and cleaning? This is all lawful work, we do it to find our Rightful place in Nature. From that place we can begin to repay our debt to the Creator.