Nature is indifferent to us and we need to get over it

Dear President Trump,

You’re usually up early, right? If you weren’t too busy sending self-incriminating Tweets this morning maybe you caught a glimpse of the moon and Venus. Here, the entire face of the moon was visible with just the smallest sliver illuminated and Venus looked ginormous. I also got a great look at Orion’s belt once I blocked the street light with my hand. I was feeling grumpy about the cold this morning so the beautiful sky was quite a welcome sight.

The other day I got another welcome and even more unexpected nature treat. A friend and I were walking over a footbridge that spans the ravine in a nearby park when we spotted a squirrel scampering up a tree with a huge mouth full of wet leaves. Neither my friend nor I had ever seen that. The squirrel’s nest was actually in a tree two over from the one she was on and it was awesome watching her walk across a skinny lateral branch like it was a span of Pennsylvania Avenue that you or I should walk across. From there she went up the next tree, over another lateral branch, and finally up to her nest.

Replaying it in my head I’m realizing I didn’t feel at all nervous for her except for that first lateral foray and that was just because I was over-identifying with her, not because she wasn’t completely sure-footed. She was clearly just doing her usual squirrel thing that she’s done hundreds of times without an audience.

The ‘without an audience’ aspect of this occurred to me when I was thinking about how cavalier you are about exploiting (and thus destroying) the natural world. That squirrel didn’t care one whit about us watching her. She wasn’t about to stop and go “Hey, who are those people down there? Do they like me? What do they think of me?” Most of nature is completely indifferent to us.

For people like you, anything that is indifferent to you is useless – if it fails to stroke that insatiable ego it might as well be used to turn a profit or destroyed if it happens to live in or on something you can sell. Obviously, this dynamic leaves nature at a terrifying disadvantage and absolutely vulnerable to exploitation and destruction. If you and we continue to take advantage of this dynamic it won’t be too long before the planet is done with us.

May beings and habitats that are indifferent to us be protected and safe.
May we be happy to coexist with them.
May we wake up to the reality that our well-being is interdependent with theirs.
May we make peace with the practical and wise limits of our powers.

Tracy Simpson

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