Thursday, December 9, 2010

Civilization vs. Nature

Time for a photo. This one I regard as a symbol of the everlasting battle between civilization and nature. The grass grows in the pavement. When left alone, nature always returns and conquers. Is it possible to have a civilization that doesn't need to fight back?

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.

4 comments:

  1. I agree with your argument on how even though civilization can be renewed and rebuilt, it is still an amateur compared to the natural world. Another example of how nature dominates civilizaton is freedom. In civilization there are rules to be followed and once you think you have obtained a certain freedom there will always be something to stop you in your tracks, so to speak. However, in nature there are no rules to follow or pressures that are found in civilization. In nature you are free to do as you please. There is a down side to absolute freedom, however. The only reason that civilization has not gone out of control is because of all the rules that were made to have our society run smoothly. With all the freedom in the world, nature runs wild.

    I am wondering if you have ever had the chance to read the book called The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain? The book relates to the fact that there are no rules and endless freedom in nature, and civilization is more controlled and has less freedom.

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  2. Katie I agree with you that in nature you have a greater deal of freedom then in civilization but in some ways you have more constrictions. No running water, no electricity, no heat, and no shelter unless you make it yourself.
    Does living in the enviroment still seem so intriguing?

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  3. That is very true and a good point, however, in the earliest of times humans have been able to survive with out running water or electricity, or heat. While I may not consider living in the natural environment, it is very possible to do so. Also, humans still need nature and its natural resources. Where do you think our food and other necessities come from?

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  4. Katie, I have read Huckleberry Finn, although it's a long time ago. I'm very fond of Mark Twain's writing. With a smile, he treated profoundly the big questions of life.

    As for nature versus culture, I hope I don't need to choose. Culture must learn from nature, since in a way culture is part of nature, too. Otherwise it could not exist.

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