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Sunday
Aug072016

« Predation by "Civilized" Humans More Ruthless than Killing in the Wild? »

photo: public domainThe worldview of MultiEarth civilization embodies a highly-polarized and confusing attitude toward wildness. On the one hand, it perceives wildness in the natural world as a threat to suppress and defeat; on the other, it intentionally channels a type of wildness when it wages war, produces TV reality shows, and intimidates and tortures other humans through various enforcement and intelligence agencies.

MultiEarth civilization, ignoring its own extensive use of primal wildness in violent actions, makes much ado about the wild violence in Nature. Phrases like “red in tooth and claw” and “the law of the jungle” underscore MultiEarth’s jaundiced view that predation and killing are to be expected in the dangerous, brutal Wild. “It’s a jungle out there” is the same kind of phrase about the predatory behavior of people competing against one another. Perhaps we understood the predation in Nature with more balance when we had to kill the meat we ate. Now that most of our meat comes already prepared or in sterile packaging, it’s as if killing never had to happen for us to eat burgers, pulled pork, sushi, or chicken. Rarely does it cross our minds that every plant we eat has to die.

The Civilization Project cannot afford to see as pastoral and inspiring any area of Nature that humans want to claim for gain. If an area isn’t Wild, then it doesn’t need to be tamed and made productive. To civilize something, we need to believe it is dangerous or of no use, and that controlling it will improve it. First Peoples were repeatedly aghast at the brutality of the Europeans toward Nature. As Luther Standing Bear said, “We did not know the West was wild until the white man came.” First Peoples were well aware of the natural predation among the species. They also practiced predation of their own. But consistent with their OneEarth views in general, First Peoples tended to kill only enough to meet their needs, assuring sustainability in the community of life across ecospheres. 

The point is not the elimination of predation in OneEarth living, but to understand how it functions in the Wild and for what purposes. Except for species who make their food through the miracle of photosynthesis, predation is required by a wide range of plant and animal species to live. But because our species practices predation more destructively, more exploitatively than other species do, we need to figure out why. And why do MultiEarth predatory behaviors differ significantly from those of many First Peoples? 

Part of the explanation is that the aggressive, wild violence of our predation often comes from the energies of the tyrant and bully, the dark archetypal energies that surface when we live ignoring the Earth-Self Call. Our egos, unable to handle those energies, become possessed by the desire for greater power and profits instead of greater consciousness. Under the influence of the dark archetypes, we bully our way into Earth’s jungles, wetlands, grasslands, rivers, and oceans, evicting species from their homes. Animals and plants not only die through MultiEarth’s predation, entire species become endangered and extinct because we take over their homes for profit-making beyond what we need. Such loss of proportion and balance is rare in the Wild, if it exists at all. But it’s frequent among humans who turn away from the Earth-Self Call and live according to the standards of the MultiEarth paradigm. MultiEarth civilization, if it dares to do so, needs to ask itself, “Why has our civilizing the Wild been far, far more brutal to species than what they do to one another?”

Predation in Nature differs from wanton slaughter or clearing a wild region for MultiEarth productivity.  Everything killed in Nature is fully used by the killing species or scavenged and cleaned up by another. Nothing is wasted. Predation among some species does include infanticide and giving birth to far more babies than what will ever reach adulthood. We do not fully understand these practices, but we can see that they preserve the genetic health of a species and assure survival of that species, even keeping it in balance with all the other species that comprise the region. The predation we see in the Wild is part of a OneEarth world. As such, it functions in a topography of greater consciousness than what functions in MultiEarth domination. And with Earth moving inexorably into a new geological age, there’s little reason to doubt that predation by humans will change from MultiEarth to OneEarth ways. On our part, we need a “Peoples’ Heroic Journey” like the many peoples’ marches happening around the globe that make public our concerns about climate change. Not that the next Earth era will eliminate predation. Eating continues. But, with the benefit of a OneEarth topography of consciousness, predation shifts from profit-making and imperial productivity to being part of the sustainable cycles of death and life.

The more we learn about predation in the life and death cycle of OneEarth living, the more we become ashamed and humbled that, in MultiEarth consciousness, our species practices gratuitous killing and wanton slaughter. The irony of civilizers behaving with less civility than those we call “wild” or “brutal” acutely reveals the limits of ego consciousness within which MultiEarth living proceeds. 

(The above is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, From Egos to Eden: Our Heroic Journey to Keep Earth Livable.)

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