An Unforgivable Sin?

Written By: Charles - May• 30•11

Beltane                                                                    Waning Last Frost Moon

“Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.” – Albert Camus

Dogs behave like dogs.  Ticks like ticks.  Ravens steal.  Osprey fish.  Shark keep moving.  Even the heart beats, the liver and the kidney detoxify, the stomach and the gut digest and eliminate.  The nose smells.  The ear hears.

We are the only creatures who, at a super-organism level, can refuse to be what we are.  It is both our glory and our damnation.  When we resist the impulse to violence, the credo of self first and the will to domination we become creatures of wonder, covered with grace and filled with light.  When, though, we take more than we can eat, steal more than we need from mother earth, use our evolved brain to imprison other creatures when we do not need them for food, then we walk to the mouth of the River Styx and throw ourselves in Charon’s boat.

Here is the first and greatest sin, perhaps the unforgivable sin.  We imagine ourselves apart from nature, as unique and special beings, exempt from evolutionary history and immune to natural consequences.  While it is true that our great technical and scientific skill seems to partition us off in our own special province, it is not so.  Why not?  Read an article about peak oil.  Consider the consequences of peak water.  Look at the struggle to find precious and rare metals, needed for sophisticated electronic devices.  It leads the Polymet Corporation to the conclusion that not only could they find them in our wonderful northeastern Minnesota, they must mine them.  Must.  Or else.  What?  No more cell phones, laptops, tablets?

Consider the moment of peak rare earths and metals.  What then.  Mother earth only has a certain cache of elements and their combinations, a cache configured in the fires of solar fusion and flung out in the processes that created our solar system and our world.  We do not, can not, make more copper, barium, lithium, nickel.  What gives corporations the arrogant assumption that they can use this store of minerals for their own private purpose?  What gives humanity the temerity to arrogate to our uses all the fossil fuels, all the stored carbon, all the metals gathered in mother earth’s body?  If this question seems naive, then ask how extinction might feel, extinction because we refuse to recognize our limits and our real location in the community of creatures and the world of things?

So, I invite you to go outside this memorial day weekend and find a flower, a tree, a bird, a dog.  Sit with them for a while.  Notice if they try to take more than the universe has allocated for their use?  Notice how they appreciate the water, the sun, the sky, a friend.  Then watch one of us.

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