Ours is to extend good manners to all life on this planet. Having good manners is synonymous with having a reverence for life. It means understanding that the energy of existence connects us all.
Edward Abbey said, “It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it.”
And I would argue that it is ours to explore death in the natural world for it occurs there as a natural part of being alive. In the human species, killing occurs for myriad reasons, many of which have nothing to do with survival.
We act as if we are in control of this planet. We are not. It is not the natural world that needs us. We need it.
More and more, our outrage separates us from the reverence for life. That separation may very well be killing us and the planet.
We are not united in our outrage. Rather, we compare and contrast the act of killing animals with other senseless deaths of humans being killed on the streets where we live.
There is not time to mourn one life before another is taken. There is no outlet for our outrage.
At the core of this divisive anger is a lack of compassion, although compassion is at the core of every major religious tradition, as is the fragility and importance of each life on this planet.
We are not open to that reality. Rather, we are angry.
All of this outrage over which life is more relevant/important is like comparing apples and oranges. How can one death matter more than another, if we profess a reverence for life?
There is confusion of equality with equanimity because we do not examine why we keep ourselves separate from rather than connecting with reverence for life.
We prefer apples to be oranges and vice versa–on demand. They have a relationship as fruit yet they are not the same from the outside in or the inside out.
Each apple or orange has its own unique characteristics and to have the same expectations for both is to deny the life force as well as our connection to it. We are denying our own existence.
No matter how many times we say it, there is no comparison of one life with another for one life does not matter more than another. Such a comparison separates us.
In Buddhism, being separate from life is to believe we have a kind of “supremacy” over all life, as if we owned it. We do not. Our belief in this ownership is why we suffer: attachment, aversion, and indifference.
Our attachment to a certain way of life and our aversion to another way of life lead to a general indifference to death, until it touches us. We have no outlet for our outrage.
Anger fragments easily for fear drives it, and fear floats through us, powered by our own biases. We separate ourselves from what connects us, the life that animates us all.
We demand the natural world respect our human boundaries. Often, species extinction is the price. What does it say about us that we are willing to destroy the very world that sustains us?
It is our unfortunate history and legacy that we have never understood this from our earliest days on this planet.
Matthew Wright explores this point in his excellent essay, “Cecil the lion’s death highlights the fact that humanity is the scourge of a fragile Earth”:
“…we unerringly manage to destroy every environment we go into. All, I suspect, downstream of a survival technique that worked quite well when there were only a few thousand of us and all we had were stone tools and sticks. “
In another fine essay on controlling our lives, “Breaking Free,” Liz Beres offers a unique perception on living in the here and now: she offers that it requires “an incessant acceptance of permeable principles. “
With “permeable principles,” life is approached with equanimity for there is a respect for each and every life on this planet. There is an openness to reverence for life. We extend good manners.
These days, it is difficult not to be angry. Some days, I just cannot stop myself. However, I have learned that in hanging onto my anger, I will only give it life in other places, inadvertently or no.
I have done that too much in my past. I no longer want to separate myself from life. Not for one more moment. The price of anger is too high.
In maintaining a connection with all life, I have an outlet for my outrage. That may sound too simplistic. Maybe it is but I know it is difficult to do. Human history reveals that.
The natural world provides for our existence. We need it. It does not need us. Never has.
Not all the anger in the world will change that.
12 thoughts on “Our Outrage Keeps Separating Us From One Another”
Leaving aside the issue of our abuse of the planet, we don’t even connect well with each other. We are hierarchical and holier-than-thou. We don’t listen to each other and rush to judgement, looking at how we differ, taking offense as if that elevates us above those of whom we disapprove. The cult of “I” is killing us. When will we realize that we are in this together.
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I do not know, Adrian, when we will realize we are not separate from one another. Perhaps, when we stop concentrating on labels more than we concentrate on people. And, as you say, we will only be able to do that when we can actually hear what the other person is saying. Thanks, Adrian.
Well said, Karen – an insightful post. And thank you for the shout-out! What worries me about the state of humanity is our general blindness to the fact, as you point out, that we need the natural world. It doesn’t need us. If we carry on down the path we are on, as a species, we will certainly damage the current form of nature to the point where our own demise is likely – extinct, or reduced to a minor species. Nature will carry on, of course, but with a different equilibrium – one, probably, we cannot (or prefer not) to imagine.
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An insightful comment, Matthew, as always. As I mentioned, I really admire your essay on this topic. It was my pleasure to include some of it in this post.
Your point about us not imagining the scenario that we are creating is critical to current thought, I suspect. We have decided to reject any science or history that proves we are on a destructive path. We have moved away from any kind of reason because we think we can. Well, we can but with every action there is a reaction. 🙂 Sigh….
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Well said. May I argue a point? The natural world doesn’t need us? We are part of the natural world. Everything we do is natural. You are right that our acts, restructuring and rearranging chemicals, gases, minerals, ecosystems, might bring about our own end, and the planet will move on just fine. I also agree that we are blind to our own limitations and to how much a part of everything else we are, and in many ways, OK, just plain stupid. But we are also amazing and adaptive creatures. We are learning all the time. As far as we know, we’re the only creatures in the universe that can cut off the tops of their own noggins, peer inside and try to figure out how things work.
Maybe the natural world needs us to be making these mistakes?
Wonderful points, J.B.! While I doubt the natural world “needs us to be making these mistakes,” I do agree that we can be wondrous and absolutely amazing. Certainly, we are connected to the natural world just as we are connected to all in this physical dimension; yes, we seem to be the species willing to take apart the entire planet to figure out how things work. That does seem to be our nature. 🙂 Perhaps we could do it with a bit more compassion? A most thoughtful comment and most appreciated.
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So well said Karen.
May we all find perspective away from ego and connect to compassion and wholeness.
If we can quit clinging to ideals, I think we will open ourselves to compassion once again. As JB indicates in her comment (above), we can be so amazing and so creative. We are capable of wondrous things, which is why it is so unfortunate when we separate ourselves, lashing out at all that comes by. Thanks so much, Val, for all the support to give this blog. It is much appreciated.
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i’m touched by this
piece of compassion, Karen 🙂
Thank you. I am touched by your kindness. 🙂
As scientific investigation confirms, over and over again, everything in the universe is connected with every other thing in the universe at every moment in time, and this eloquent blog reminds us of that fact. We do not live in isolation or separation from the rest of creation, but we are delusional, selfish and, truth be told, plain stupid at times. well, maybe i should say most of the time, particularly if you watch political debates.
Yes, Craig. Of late, the “debate” seems to have reached a new level in the realm of nonsense.Our country is putting on quite a show, isn’t it? That said, the rest of the planet has its own human issues as well. What are we thinking or is it that we are not thinking at all?