Nature’s Way – I


Nature is lazy. It’s always looking for the shortest route with the least resistance, direct and to the point, no wasting time or energy.

Nature has a lesson for us. She’s demonstrating the way : the no hoops way. I find myself jumping through hoops too often. Swimming upstream, spitting in the wind, tilting at windmills, going against the grain, doing it the hard way, spinning my wheels, overkill, barking up the wrong tree, hitting my head against the wall, going up blind alleys, all over the map, willy-nilly, making mountains out of molehills, trying to move mountains, running in the sand, running headlong into uphill battles, going for the long shot, pyrrhic victories. . . English has a boat load of idioms to express the dire straights we put ourselves into when we refuse to go with the flow. Nature naturally takes the easy way out, and for good reason. It’s efficient. It gets the job done. And when it’s done without artifice or contrivance, the grace and ease of nature produces results of natural, genuine beauty.

There are a myriad of analogies between nature and art, nature and design, nature and happiness, satisfaction, and the most useful, functional, highest performing human creations.

The only thing nature does to excess is reproduce. If there’s a food supply, nature eats it up and reproduces until the supply is exhausted. Nature can’t control itself in this department. Now, point the light on humanity. Humans, despite what we think of ourselves, are doing likewise. In my lifetime, the world population has more than doubled. It took the first two-hundred-thousand years of human existence for the population to hit the one billion mark; in the last two hundred years it has nearly octupled. At over seven billion and counting, we’re taking over more land, sucking up more water, and leaving behind more waste. Add in our technological advances, which amplifies our production-consumption-disposal cycle, and we’re heading full tilt towards a breathtaking precipice.

Nature’s ways are excellent in most ways, but in one way it fails miserably : self-monitoring control. You may argue with that statement by citing nature is good at self-correcting and rebalancing. However, it always comes after the fact—after overbreeding, after running out of resources, after the crash of the ecosystem—then it regroups. Self monitoring control is an active, conscious behavior, not a passive, automatic response. Fortunately, nature gave us humans something that can find a way out of the predicament. It’s a brain able to foresee, anticipate, extrapolate, plan, cooperate, coordinate.

The challenge is, how can seven billion individual brains unify to create an organized, self-monitoring system that corrects, regulates, and balances before heading blindly into collapse? It appears nature hasn’t devised a way for global self control.

Nature’s second lesson is a bit more subtle : use your brain in nature’s way. Not to overtake or control nature, but rather, to take the path of least resistance. Nature is lazy and selfish; humans are lazy and selfish. But the human brain has an extra capacity to foresee beyond its immediate wants. With billions of others in the world, our selfish ways need to be more fully exploited. Because we are not alone in this world, because we share it with seven billion other humans, and billions and billions of other organisms, all of whom we rely on in some manner for our own needs, we need to be more selfish. Yes, I said more selfish. To make it clear, I’m not saying childish, I-me-mine selfishness. To make it clearer, I’m saying intelligent selfishness. By realizing we aren’t alone, that we can’t survive on our own, intelligent selfishness takes into account the other. It isn’t altruism that gets us to cooperate, rather, it’s seeing things in the light of what’s best for me is also necessarily good for you. If you suffer, the whole system suffers. That which damages the world I live in makes it less commodious for me. What do I gain from sitting in a multimillion dollar penthouse when around this corner there are slums, and that corner there are toxic waste dumps? The world is my neighborhood and I, selfishly, want all of it to be a nice place to live, everywhere.

To solve our problems, humans need to be nature’s central nervous system. We need to think globally, consider the whole picture, all of the interconnections, apply selfish cooperation and collective coordination. The continuation of the policy of shortsighted competitiveness and personal/regional/national myopic-selfishness, is a zero-sum game (Actually, it’s closer to 1 winner : 9 losers, a negative sum.), and an endless uphill battle. It’s unproductive, destructive, and wasteful. It’s unaffordable. And it’s too much work. All the fighting each other, all the lying, cheating and steeling takes a lot of effort, time, energy, and resources we can no longer squander. Instead, we could apply unified consideration, cooperation and coordination to end the eternal conflict. It’s a much easier way out : laid back and lazy.

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