Two days ago, while leash walking our dog, he snatched a baby rabbit hunkered down alongside the path. He did it so fast, I'd have missed it if not for the piercing squeak, and tiny feet momentarily dangling from his mouth. One gulp, and bye-bye bunny. I was horrified. And I was wrong. He wasn't being a “bad” dog. He was just being a dog.
As Homo sapiens, we like to distinguish ourselves from other animals who simply follow their instincts. That in itself is a hotly contested topic. Regardless, our imagination, ability to think abstractly, and ingenuity have tipped the evolutionary scales greatly in our favor. This rise to dominance is also our curse. We make choices under the delusion that we can separate our own well-being from that of the rest of the world. But survival of the fittest is an incomplete story. Nature is a continuum composed of a multitude of living things and interactive systems. Research is demonstrating that cooperation is a key driver in evolutionary success, What I do as an individual is inescapably about what I do to the rest of the planet. My daily actions mark my direction as surely as fossilized dinosaur tracks on long-gone shores.
These days, when I read the news, I'm pretty sure that in spite of evolutionary success, we are the most reckless, idiotic species ever to walk the planet. Still, I believe in us. But the stories we currently tell ourselves and each other limit our vision and restrict our possibilities. Humanity is at a critical juncture–Can our ingenuity and imagination help us open up the world in new ways that bring real ecological awareness, social justice, and unity? Can we stop being so selfish and take the long view that considers balance and well-being for all?
Please say, “Yes.”
Artist and naturalist Michelle Louis has a vigorous curiosity about the natural world. Her abstract landscape paintings cultivate connection to the lands she explores.
©2021 Michelle Louis All rights reserved. Content and images are property of the artist.