Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The need to help (impose?) balance on "nature".

There is a saying that Nature abhors a vacuum. It's often invoked when you try to eradicate some pest or weed, only to discover that it has been replaced by something else, often even worse.

Humans love to change their environment. I mean environment in the broader sense. It covers everything from your tidying up your desk drawer to cleaning your kitchen to mowing and weeding your yard, to remodelling your house, to as big as you have control/influence over. We want to make it better, though it is an entire other discussion as to how we perceive and define "better".

Everybody does it. Some are good at it. Some do it the absolute minimum they can get away with. Some take it too far and get obsessed with cleaness or organization. But it's essentially universal expression among people makes me think that this is a very deep and fundamental part of our being or soul. I think this drive is an expression of our little version of God's involvement and care for His environment (all of creation).

We desire harmony and balance and beauty in the things around us. Farmers hate it when their cows get sick and try to help them. Gardeners despise weeds choking out their veggie plants or flowers. They don't belong there. So, we all have a plan or a world view about how things are supposed to work, just like God has a plan. Clearly, we are not overly successful at totally fixing what is wrong with the planet. But still, in our own little corner, we do not easily give up and allow chaos to win.

I often speculate what the garden of Eden was like. How much did Adam and Eve have to "work" to keep things ship-shape prior to the fall? Surely, they were not overrun with too many squirrels and chipmunks such that they had to kill the buggers at every opportunity.

Clive Staples Lewis wrote a fascinating scene in the third part of his science fiction trilogy. In the book, That Hideous Strength, the protagonist (a man named Ransom) is giving us a little vignette of what life could look like when man and nature both embrace the correct and larger plan from God. Ransom, and a woman who is considering joining this dovoted religious community are discussing how different the community really is. Ransom uses a peculiar illustration to drive home the point.

I'll paraphrase it for a moment. (You will excuse me if I get some of the details wrong. It's been years since I read it.) They have just finished a light snack in the sitting room.

Ransom: Are you afraid of mice?

Woman: Well, I don't like them, but I am not especially afraid of mice.

Ransom: Then I would like you to sit very still and just observe for a few minutes. Don't be startled or make a sudden noise.

He then proceeds to take their plates, which are covered with the typical crumbs and remnants from their light meal, and brushes the mess right onto the floor. He then rings a small bell and sits back, expectantly. Nothing happens for a few moments. Then, three small mice appear from the other side of the room from behind the furniture and cautiously make their way across the floor to the crumbs. They delicately clean up the mess until the floor is spotless. Then they sit up and groom themselves with obvious satisfaction before scampering off and dissappearing.

Ransom: You see, there has been centuries of needless conflict between humans and mice. Humans are messy eaters, which produces a modest supply of crumbs and whatnot. Mice need a modest supply of crumbs and whatnot, and would happily remove them from our premises. So long as there is an understanding and a balance between the two parties, there is no conflict.

I firmly believe that our lack of balance and harmonious coexistance with all species is a direct consequence of original sin. Until that fundamental rift in the fabric of existence is repaired, we will have to make do as best we can.

Until the mice and the squirrels and the chipmunks start playing by the grand playbook, I will continue to encourage balance and harmony by killing them using every available means and opportunity.

While we are under the burden of original sin, do you think God has enabled us to actually enjoy hunting our fellow creatures to preserve some semblance of balance and order, or am I just perverted? Or perhaps hunting pre-dates the fall and "dumb" creatures without souls always needed a bit of killing to keep them in line with the greater plan???


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