Back to Nature (Published on - Aug. 23, 2007)
Something’s Out of Order
Lofty oak trees grace the woods in the back of my home. In the distance a neighbor’s sunlit roof peaks between the giant limbs.

On occasion a red-shouldered hawk has watched from an opportune bough for less fortunate field mice. But today workmen in dungarees, work belts and bright orange electrical equipment clamor over the structure as if bulky, odd insects.

My dogs watch suspiciously from their cozy beds in front of the glass door windows and utter low protective growls. There is something out of order in their universe.

Nothing has ever moved in that spot before. It is improbable for them to understand where their safety and the safety of their pack, essentially me at this moment, begins and ends.

These descendants of wolves can’t perceive the rules of property rights or townships, planning commissions, cities or state boundaries, countries, planets or galaxies. I would simply be wasting my time in any attempt to explain these foreign, complex concepts to them. At best I can only assure them those insects will not bite.

“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, Random House, 1994

Consider the age of the Earth is around 4 billion years old. Consider hominids have been on this Earth around 4 million years. Imagine for a moment 4 million years ago our predecessors viewed the 200 billion stars of the Milky Way at 10 million light years from our planet.

Setting numbers aside, it is scarcely any easier for humans today to conceive our ancestors marveling at the Milky Way 4 million years ago than the two pups beside me understanding the repairmen scuttling upon my neighbor’s roof.

Try as we may, we are for the most part limited to how hot our coffee is in the morning, how bad the traffic is to get home, whether or not our bosses got the latest memo, or if the smoked turkey is still on sale at the grocers.

At best with complete amazement, we may watch televised radar of a tropical storm shove off from the warm winds of Africa to become a hurricane in the Caribbean Sea. But what if you were from a village that had never experienced television? What if you were as unfamiliar with cameras and photographs as the other person is with your serving desert from your honey sweetened home prepared goat’s milk cheese?

Truth is not necessarily based on fact, but rather one’s conceptual knowledge, as well, the village’s acceptance of that particular reasoning.

There seems to be three stages of truth: ridicule, oppression, acceptance and or rebellion. Concepts that have been historically considered truth must eventually be put to challenge, for the expansion of the human knowledge base. Historically to change an idea base, such as: “The earth is flat,” means the scholarly and religious based truth concepts must be fervently and passionately challenged. 

Global Warming has become a conceptual “truth” that is being duked out in the media and politician’s platforms between goliaths such as: Fox news and Newsweek Magazine. Mega giants of religious, philosophical, corporative and financial clout remain stuck somewhere in between, “If it doesn’t hurt me directly,” and “Don’t offend my Gods.”

Such tunnel vision and myopia is certainly not unusual for our species, but it serves to demonstrate the relatively limited distance hominoids have evolved in our thought processes over the past 4 million years.

Fossil fuels remain the number one fuel, as glaciers melt at astonishing rates of 24 to 30 percent.

BP Global Oil reports: “The Asia Pacific region once again recorded the most rapid growth, rising by 4.9 percent, while consumption in North America fell by 0.5 percent. Chinese energy consumption rose by 8.4 percent and China continued to account for the majority of global energy consumption growth.”

More than 30 million acres of tropical forest are destroyed each year. Earth Trust states recent estimates indicate that 50,000 species become extinct each year on our planet.

Humans make up only 0.1 percent of the planet earth's history.  We seem unable to conceptualize that we are just some small carbon atoms that barely make up a blip upon our universes radar screen.   We can’t seem to perceive the rules of this earth, this solar system, this galaxy or this vast universe.

At best, we cozy up in our armchairs, continuing to reassure ourselves that according to our conceptual truths, “It is a little warmer than average this year, my dear.”

There is something out of order in our universe....back to nature. 

Karen can be reached at

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