The Nature of Natural

“I have heard people suggest that because humans are natural that everything humans do or create is natural. Chainsaws are natural. Nuclear bombs are natural. Our economics is natural. Sex slavery is natural. Asphalt is natural. Cars are natural. Polluted water is natural. A devastated world is natural. A devastated phyche is natural. Unbridled exploitation is natural. Pure objectification is natural. This is, of course, nonsense. We are embedded in the natural world. We evolved as social creatures in this natural world. We require clean water to drink, or we die. We require clean air to breathe, or we die. We require food, or we die. We require love, affection, social contact in order to become our full selves. It is part of our evolutionary legacy as social creatures. Anything that helps us to understand all of this is natural: Any ritual, artifact, process, action is natural, to the degree that it reinforces our understanding of our embeddedness in the natural world, and any ritual, artifact, process, action is unnatural, to the degree that it does not”Derrick Jensen (Author, The Culture of Make Believe)

https://i0.wp.com/z.about.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/R/7/2/natural-and-unnatural-disasters.jpg

Have you ever had this conversation with someone? You know, the one where you try to describe the actions of this culture – the affects our society has on wild nature, on each other, on children, on women, on animals, on indigenous peoples, on the poor. You see an interconnectedness, a pattern with a possible origin, and the response you get is “well, people are natural, everything comes from nature at some point, therefore everything we do and say and think must be natural“. You know deep down that this rationalization is flawed but you just can’t articulate why. You accuse the person of being nihilistic, or of rationalizing every terrible thing this culture has resulted in from genocide to child labor to domestication and Monsanto, but you still haven’t pinpointed the line that must be drawn between “natural” and “unnatural”. I found that the quote above really hits the nail on the head, without having to be an ecologist to understand it.

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