Some years back, I had a very brief “vision” of sorts.
We were doing the usual Pagan circle thing in a public park here near the edge of town, bordered by a wild forested area with one of the local rivers running through it, and as we reached the peak of drumming and dancing and then brought it all to earth with a bang and a moment of silence, I looked up at the wildwood, and felt the wood looking back.
The overall impression was a fond sadness. “We’ll miss you when you’re gone,” was the way the feeling found words.
There are two sensibilities at large in our civilization. One is the “I’m the boss, I make the rules” kind of hubris that views humankind as the pinnacle of a kind of progressive evolution — whether viewed in the science-fiction sense of biological evolution from yeast to intelligence to eventual godhood, or in the religious sense of being a sixth-day masterwork, given “dominion” over everything God made during his previous five days as a journeyman Creator — a master to whom all of base nature must submit. The other, its apocalyptic shadow-opposite, views humankind as an uncontrolled virus that Mother Earth will eventually get around to eradicating with a brief shudder of disgust.
Mankind: overlord or dreaded disease.
This vision offered a very different perspective. As I experienced it, Mother Earth is actually quite fond of us. Our songs. Our funny two-legged dance with gravity. Our capacity for intra- and inter-species empathy. Our cleverness with our hands. Our language and our storytelling. Even our technology, which — though it causes some troubles — is a beautiful thing in its own right. That wildwood was alive, and curious, and friendly, though not in the Disney sense — it would certainly not hesitate to embrace any one of us in the “cycle of life.” But as a species, the wildwood bore us no ill will whatsoever, even as our city expands and expands and pushes the trees and beasts away.
The world holds a place for us, too, just like the beaver or the bacterium.
On the other hand, Mother Earth isn’t going to save us from ourselves, or from any of the changes that take place in world. She’ll weep for us, and remember us, but no more than that. She’s let the dinosaurs slip away; she’ll let us slip away.
But they’ll all miss us when we’re gone.
It is sad to think that the wildwood needs people like you to protect it from people who would not hesitate to bulldoze it. If it were a new internet technology, or a new cancer cure, people would pour money and effort into it, but they wouldn’t give a second thought to planting a tree, a tree that keeps the air clean enough to breathe.