Mother Nature’s Electric Fence
By Tim Nast
My entire life I have wondered how this big beautiful planet would survive us, how would it survive our constant pushing and extracting, our paving and chopping. How would it protect itself against a species such as us, a species that once was a part of this place but has since left its role as family member to pursue a brand-new role as destroyer.
As humans, we have perfected the process of consumption, which includes the important first step - production - the making of something that is then put up for sale. And to complete our production, we must first gather the resources we need, ingredients necessary to concoct what we wish to produce. Oil, minerals, chemicals, lumber - our list of favourite resources is extensive and we have honed our ability to gather and bring them back so our manufacturing plants can combine just the right amounts to create what we long for, be it a lightbulb or cream for our nose.
We gather these resources constantly and without thought. We do it naturally and aggressively, no matter the obstacles. And those things that stand in our way – be it a river, a field, or migratory path that has been used for thousands of years, none of these matter for we are determined to remove everything that stands between us and our humming economy.
This is what has bothered me my entire life, has filled me with guilt and sadness during walks through the woods or a commute across town. “Poor Earth.” I would think as I witnessed firsthand how we devour and consume at the cost of all other life. We have the potential to nurture and protect but, instead, we have become the enemy of everything alive.
With our arms and legs and binary brain wedged inside our skull, we have morphed from early man into something more dangerous than anything ever seen in this place. We look east or west or north or south and when we find what we are looking for, we extract it regardless of those affected – be it birds in their nests or deer with their young in the forests we clear. Death to all as we haul away what we have gathered, without ever glancing back.
How can Mother Nature defend herself against a destructive force such as us, a beast that destroys everything she has nurtured since the dawn of time? This question, this pain, this sorrow for all things natural, for all things being destroyed through no fault of their own, this is what has burdened me. How can this planet defend itself against one of its own who has left the family table only to return with chainsaw and wrecking ball?
But, as recently discovered with the appearance of Covid-19, Mother Nature isn’t nearly as vulnerable as I thought. She is not nearly as defenseless as assumed. No. As we abuse and lay waste to the world around us, extracting our coal and oil and everything else we can think of, Mother Nature has not responded because she isn’t capable. Quite the opposite. She hasn’t responded because she is what we are not – patient.
The patience of Mother Nature is vast and deep as she endures our tormenting and tantrums, as we dam up rivers and steamroll forests. She has watched us through all of this, has followed our fall from grace and felt every one of our transgressions, but she has never smacked us down or sent us flying. She hasn’t done any of this even as we have emptied her oceans and filled them with our plastic, as we've heated her world to melting.
I see it now, the deep and abiding patience of Mother Nature. And with the recent Covid-19 events unfolding, I see very clearly the blade she carries, the blade she has always carried - a scythe that will come whistling for our necks if we are not careful. And if this occurs, if through our own actions we are removed from this place, there will be no mourning for our loss for it is simply her way. Quick. Clean. Just. Push and kill but not too much for if we ever pass her threshold, it will be us who are finished, not the forests or the oceans.
The recent events that have gripped our world due to Covid-19 have revealed Mother Nature’s electric fence and I am not the only one to notice. Indeed, the entire world who currently sits cowering at home, hiding from what we have brought down on ourselves, we have all seen this fence. And we all know the strength of its zap should we not change our ways.
We push and pave and chop and hack. And this world that is our oceans and forests and mountains and plains, with every living thing among them, these living creatures hunker and hide from us, from the stress we cause as we grab them and pack them tightly in our cages, as we carry them off to our markets and cutting boards. We have been doing this for so long now, as we fanned out and claimed every inch of this world for ourselves. Until now. Until this moment where we are right now, hiding in our homes lest the Covid take us too, this brand-new virus that whistles our name.
We created this viral monster by not knowing when to stop. By not stopping when we should.
By pushing constantly for more and more, we have finally reached Mother Nature’s electric fence that will zap us to kingdom come if we aren’t careful – a fence we cannot climb or pass, a fence comprised of pathogens that move from those we hunt to us, pathogens that are released by these defenseless creatures, released out of the stress and fear we cause, pathogens that morph into deadly viruses perfectly aimed at humans. SARS, MERS, Swine Flu, Ebola, Covid. We are building quite a list. Call them Mother Nature’s gift to us, this wall, her line of defence.
Until this time, we never knew Mother Nature had this in her arsenal, but now we do. Now it is as clear as the sun in the sky, her message that tells us to stop or die. We must stop pushing and destroying or this electric fence of pathogens will send us to our grave. Perhaps not now but if we continue our ways, eventually and absolutely our actions will result in new and deadlier pathogens that will leap from our cousins to us.
No wonder she is patient. No wonder we’ve had free rein until now. All along she has known there is only so far we can go. And beyond that point is a fence that will fry us and remove us from this place.
It is all very clear now, as we hide in our homes and wait for the danger of Covid to leave. There is an electric fence out there. And it is Mother Nature’s way of limiting what we do and holding us accountable.
Will the binary brain in our head register this truth?
Will we finally understand that caring for all life on this planet is the best way to care for us?
I pray this is so.