Thursday, December 9, 2010
Civilization vs. Nature
I'm no Thoreau. I enjoy city life. Although I can become aghast by the majesty of a mountain and the smell of forest air, nature makes me impatient at length. I need to return to the turmoil of the city. A friend once called me the most urbanized person she knows. That might be. The city boy who occasionally has a little sip of wildlife, if not too wild and not too uncomfortable.
Still, I enjoy the fact that nature just doesn't give up. We may force it to retreat, when we construct our society with cement, steel, and glass, but we can't make it stay away for good. As soon as we turn away momentarily, nature creeps right back up behind us. It has the patience and perseverance of something continuously renewing itself, as the main trait of its existence. Nature forever returns, because that's what it's all about.
Of course, civilization has this trademark as well, sort of renewing itself as a process on which it is based. It is built, it withers, and gets rebuilt. But compared to nature, it's an amateur. Civilization contains resistance against its own renewal, and accomplishes it only by severe damage to itself. In civilization, change is reluctant and costly, whereas in nature it simply never stops. So at length, the renewal of nature is irresistible. Civilization should learn from its example and adapt to it, instead of furiously fighting it.
Actually, that's the core of the message in the Tao Te Ching. The grass gladly growing in the middle of the pavement says the same.
Click on the image to see it enlarged.