I have—half-jokingly—stated that, if I were God, I would have ordered things differently. While I’m in awe of Nature’s intricate, interwoven, and complex structure and finely tuned function, I have never liked the fact that animals eat one another. Even as a child I closed my eyes when nature documentaries focused in on the “successful” outcome of a hunt, a predator slaying its prey. In my ideal world, we would all be herbivores. Or better yet, like plants, we would be autotrophs, able to nourish ourselves simply by inhaling carbon dioxide and absorbing the energy of the sun, before transforming them into food. And in the process, create oxygen as a byproduct.
I know that “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s chloroplasts” is good advice and yet I must confess to full-blown chlorophyll envy. Sometimes I wish I could photosynthesize so that just by being, just by shimmering at the meadow’s edge or floating lazily on a pond, I could be doing the work of the world while standing silent in the sun.
From “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer
The mere mention of my utopia has resulted in various reactions, ranging from approbation to condemnation and severe censure. I have been accused of arrogance, condescension, or worse. Even or especially by naturalists, some of whom seem to think that to question the world order is sacrilegious.
I beg to differ. One can love Nature and still question some of her workings. Feeling sadness for the suffering of one’s own or of related species, being empathetic, is a hallmark of being human.
Last summer I unexpectedly came across a horde of mink at one of my favorite regional destinations, Manitou Lake in neighboring Teller County (also the topic of several previous posts: Dr. Bell’s Retreat, Soul Time, and Serenity Lake). I enjoyed watching what appeared to be a family group comprised of 4 to 5 members (try as I might, I was unable to capture all of them in one picture frame). They were in a playful mood, chasing and rolling on top of one another, while chattering in soft tones.
To enlarge a photo, click on it.
I was amazed to be privy to their antics, but my initial joy at seeing them turned into melancholy when it became evident that what appeared like play was not so for one unfortunate bog dweller, whose life ended at that point.
RIP, little frog. I understand that you are part of the mysterious web of life and death, but if I had any say in the matter, you would still be alive.