It’s the end of August and the morning air is starting to get chilly already. I sat out on the deck this morning with a cup of coffee and my buddy, Dakota. It was peaceful and quiet, but now and then I’d hear the gentle snort of a horse in the woods, just off the back of my property. Otherwise there is no sound. Just the long shadows of the pine trees as the sun begins to climb the branches to make its dramatic appearance later in the morning.
I was reflecting on the peace and beauty. The old song by Louis Armstrong that speaks of this as being a “wonderful world” kept going through my mind. And I guess it is a beautiful world. But I’m always struck by the dichotomy between the beauty of our planet and the cruelty and brutality of nature.
I can look out at the forest from my deck and everything seems tranquil, but I know that a couple of miles up the hill from me there is a mountain lion tearing the throat out of Bambi, while off to my left is a blue jay snagging a butterfly right out of the air. Even the beautiful pine trees fight each other for the sun. Left to his own nature and adverse circumstances, I’m sure my gentle dog could conceivably join a pack of dogs and become a killer himself. That’s hard to believe, but that’s nature.
You can watch insects and fish eat each other. Let’s face it, death is required for life. Everything is food for something else. Ironically, the worms usually get humans, after we’ve eaten everything else.
In the book, “Lord of the Flies,” a group of British school boys are marooned on an island and the changes that take place in their personalities and behavior present grist for the intellectual mill of “nature vs. nurture.” The boys literally become savages.
Imagine if we didn’t “civilize” a baby and allowed the child to do whatever it wanted to do – just let it follow its nature. Would that child develop into a model citizen and a wonderful person or would it fall into the category of a “sociopath?”
It raises the question of whether human nature at its base is good or evil. The prevailing philosophy is to not discipline children physically. Some folks think that people are basically good. No need for religion or internalized morality. How has that worked out? Fortunately, I had girls and never had to physically discipline them. A look or a change in my voice was all it took. I was lucky and they were wonderful.
Any one of the ideas I’ve touched on could make an interesting study, but I’m just scratching the surface with some thoughts that came to mind while I was enjoying a beautiful morning in the Sierras. And that’s really all we can do. Enjoy what you can, when you can. And eat everything that crosses your path.