Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

Nature’s “friendliness” is a romantic pre-teen’s naive dream.  §

I’m in the middle of combat against nature today. It is trying to destroy parts of the house. I am using (and trying to repair) various mechnical household contrivances that are used (and were invented) to keep nature at bay. It is hard and dirty and fraught work, and it could get expensive, but it must be done, because nature is relentless.

That needs to be said.

In the last several decades, and the last several years in particular, there has been this growing sentiment amongst members of a particular class (or would-be members that presume to adopt the veneer of their betters) that nature is a friend. That if only we could be nicer to nature, nature would be nicer to us. That at some point in the future, when we are all enlightened, we will commune with nature. &c.

Let me explain something.

This is the fevered romantic dream of the same pre-teen girl who thinks that the world can be divided into “safe” men and “dangerous men” and that all “safe” men are the ones that “express their feelings” and cry when they see an injured puppy and that if all the “safe” men “call out” the “dangerous men” that it will be safe to walk about after dark in the nude.

In fact, it’s the very same dream, but I digress.

Here’s the truth: Nature is not your friend. Nature will never be your friend. Yes, we are nature’s spawn. For that reason, we are also not each others’ friends, as is evidenced by many and varied wars and so on. And for the same reason, we are also not nature’s friend. You think it odd that nature would create that which is antagonistic toward nature and capable of quite a bit of destruction, as we are? (A) The amount of destruction that we are capable of is nothing in comparison to nature. Our puny H-bomb up against a black hole, a pulsar, even your average hurricane? Ha! and (B) This is the nature—of nature. Chaotic. Mercurial. Bizarre. Destructive and self-destructive. Again, that is the nature—of nature.

Try to remember: Nature wants to kill you. Eventually, it will succeed. It also wants to kill all of your offspring. And all of their offspring. In fact, nature wants to end human civilization as a whole, despite the fact that it created us, and eventually it will. Nature wants to kill everything that has ever existed and everything that is ever going to exist and eventually it will. There is no getting around this fact.

The only question is how long we can fend the attacks of nature off, both at an individual level, at the family level, and at the civilizational level. Nature is coming for you. And for me. And for all of us. And nature is pitiless. And ruthless. And immensely powerful. It will win.

Civilization is not some mistake that a couple wrongheaded idiots made way back when, before people were enlightened, and it’s been leading us to live miserable lives ever since, &c. Civilization is our attempt to fend nature off for just a little while so that we can—to the extent possible—find a bit of meaning amidst the miracle of our lives before nature snuffs us back out again without any regard for our feelings.

Anyone that has actually communed with nature knows that it is fraught and terrifying. It does not feel safe and warm and fuzzy and cocoonish. It feels as though you are operating in a theater of war without a safety net, as though every breath you take is a gift because at any moment nature is probably going to snuff you out. The forces of nature are nasty, brutish, and anything but short.

Those who imagine that they’ve had great experiences “communing” with nature are those that were actually observing nature at a practical distance from within the safe and enfolding arms of civilization. They buy a bunch of civilized mass-produced tools like tents and sleeping bags and solar flashlights and steel knives and so on and drive up for one or two days of “nature” in their cars, camping on a concrete pad never more than a mile away from the nearest ranger station and the human infantry of rescue helicopters and so on, most probably with their mobile phones on and GPS and a 4G signal at the ready.

Sure, that’s great. But nature wants to destroy all of that stuff. Do not make the mistake of thinking that just because nature seemed manageable when you had armies of millions of humans behind you that nature is now a safe bet—that nature won’t rape you at a moment’s notice.

What you were enjoying there was civilization, in fact poking nature in the nose with civilization, with its inability to kill you at that moment. But if you ever find yourself face-to-face in actual nature, many miles distant from the nearest human or human intervention, without your fabulous tools, without your communications machines and your maps and all the other artifacts of civilization… you will be terrified. And you will suffer. And if you make it back, you will feel grateful. Grateful that nature didn’t manage to take you yet, and grateful that civilization was still somewhere on the other side of the front lines once you managed to make your way furtively and fearfully back.

I’ve had this experience twice in my life—of being face-to-face with nature, without civilization or its trappings to support me, knowing that nobody was coming to save me, that I had to get to the other side of the front on my own. It was harrowing in each case. And I do feel lucky to be back.

But what would I have done if there had been no front line? If there was no territory held by civilization and its tools for keeping nature at bay? I would be dead. And so would you be.

The people who think that we ought to dismantle civilization in favor of nature are childish fools and must not be allowed out of the house after dark, lest they get themselves or someone else killed.

Sadly, we have an entire society of such people today—people who are made comfortable by all the trappings of industrial society, about six inches tall but emboldened to make what amount to boastful claims. The “nature is our friend” people are like the son of the Fortune 100 CEO who thinks he “earned” his trip to Yale, the ‘A’ grades he got there, the Mazerati he drives, and the position that he has as CFO.

You think nature is small because an infinite army of humans before you has given their lives fighting against it so that you could be comfortable.

Nature is not your friend. Nature is your bitter enemy. Nature is responsible for the workings of the A-bomb. Nature is responsible for the biological characteristics that lead to rape, to murder, to theft, and to war. Nature invented cancer. Nature invented AIDS. Nature gives us heroin and crack cocaine. Nature is responsible for entropy, which will eventually destroy the earth, the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe. Nature.

Nature is your friend? Are you serious?

Buddy up to civilization and work to preserve it with all your might.

You are a pre-pubescent child and you’re dreaming.