Simple Truths


Ci’-vi-lized [adj] subject to government, reduced to order, reclaimed from savagery
Many religions teach that, before civilization, man did not possess a fully conscious mind capable of reflection, and had no ‘free will’.
Only humans can be described as civilized.
Civilized man lives in a world of staggering scarcity.

Fe’-ral [adj] wild, untamed, savage, not civilized
Feral creatures live in a world of astonishing abundance.
Yet it is the same world in which civilized man lives, at least physically.

Choice’ [n] a variety of alternatives or options
In winter, birds have three choices:
To travel to warmer climates in the company of their community (migration).
To sleep in a cozy, secure, underground chamber (hibernation).
To eat heartily and snuggle up with others in their community to stay warm and comfortable.
Civilized man has only two ‘choices’:
Work long and hard in the service of others.
Freeze and starve homeless.
Civilized man does not have the choice of living without the constant, gnawing fear of not having enough.

Pri’-son [n] a place of forcible (i.e. without choice) confinement, restraint or captivity

A’-li-en [n] an organism that occurs in a region in which it is not native (i.e. not naturally at home)
Man is native to the tropics.
Only when he became alienated did he become civilized.

Sca’-ven-ger [n] an organism that feeds on carrion, or wild nuts and berries, a cleaner of refuse
Man, like the raven, was originally a scavenger.
He did not have the strength, speed or natural tools (claws and teeth) for catching and killing live prey.
Scavengers are an honourable and critical component of every ecosystem on Earth.
Scavengers are generally the most intelligent creatures in each branch of the animal kingdom.
This intelligence is evolutionary– effective scavenging requires significant creativity and social cooperation.

Sus-tain’-a-ble [adj] capable of being continued indefinitely, without depletion or diminution
Man is currently using Earth’s resources at 120% of the Earth’s and man’s combined ability to regenerate them.
If everyone on Earth today consumed resources at the rate of the average North American, man would be using Earth’s resources at 800% of the Earth’s and man’s combined ability to regenerate them.
The human population is still doubling every 50 years. So is per-person resource consumption.
Eighty-five percent of the arable land on Earth has been seriously degraded (i.e. its carrying capacity significantly reduced) by human activity.
We have consumed about 500 billion of the 2,000 billion barrels of hydrocarbons known or theoretically possible to find and extract (much of it enormously difficult and costly to find and extract). We are currently using 30 billion barrels per year, which is conservatively expected to grow to 45 billion barrels per year by 2020. At this rate, we will have used up all the hydrocarbons on the planet, which took billions of years to be created, by the latter part of this century.

Can’-cer [n] a malignant pathological (i.e. destructive and unsustainable) growth that expands locally by invasion, and systemically by metastasis (i.e. transmitting its cells to other parts of the organism) until it kills the entire host organism.

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8 Responses to Simple Truths

  1. Aleah says:

    What a lovely and intricate web you’ve woven with words. This has inspired some poems. I will have to work on them after hours. I particularly appreciate in connect between intelligence and scavenging. Beautiful. I’ve always been attracted to the word feral.

  2. David Jones says:

    Man has institutionalized the non-negotiable blessing of absolutes …. a world view shared by no other life form on the planet. We even sing about it – “Que sera – sera. What will be, will be.” We have fully internalized determinism – and though we insist on blaming the universe – we can really only blame ourselves.

  3. Dave Pollard says:

    Thanks, Aleah/Sam/David. It’s nice to see that sometimes my ‘experimental’ posts evoke a response other than ‘huh?” ;-)

  4. Life Tenant says:

    Dave, I support your environmentalist goals but I don’t think you advance them with these counterfactual fantasies about nature being nothing but cuddly and abundant and civilization being nothing but hard and cold. There’s nothing unnatural about scarcity or population booms and busts. Are the birds of Canada so hardy that they all “naturally” survive every winter? Have you never seen the bodies of birds on the ground after a long cold spell? Do you think every migratory bird survives the difficult passage South? Ecologists tell us that one ‘natural’ strategy for species survival is the production or emergence of very large numbers of individuals simultaneously at certain life stages, e.g. sea turtle hatchlings, marine organism larvae, cicadas, so as to overwhelm the appetites of predator populations. For these species, nature is a cycle of massacres in which many or most of a generation is sacrificed so the species can survive. Looking at the longer term, natural history is full of instance when some species surge in numbers at the expense of others. Massive extinctions of diverse kinds of microorganisms no doubt marked the transition from the Archaean era dominated by anaerobic bacteria to the aerobic world in which we and other multicellular organisms have evolved in all our wonderful diversity. That was abrupt (on a geological timescale), but natural. The growth of the human species is also abrupt, relatively speaking, but no less natural. It will change the Earth’s living systems but cannot kill them. We have the moral capacity to choose, to define our society in ways that are more or less compatible with other species. Let us embrace that moral challenge rather than obscuring it with mythologies of what is natural and unnatural which are all too reminescent of religious dogma.

  5. joe says:

    This chapter invoked a sentence in my mind, I heard from a friend of mine – this is going worse and worse, but perhaps this civilization do not deserve anything better.Nice comparizon – bird&human. What I think is that actually as well humans have more choices just beyond the dogma.

  6. joe says:

    oops – I did it again! Xcuse me!

  7. Paris says:

    FERAL: “- Existing in a wild or untamed state. – Having returned to an untamed state from domestication.”WILD:”- Occurring, growing, or living in a natural state; not domesticated, cultivated, or tamed – Uncivilized or barbarous; savage.”Neither feral, nor civilised, but simply WILD!

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