“Any foolish boy can stamp on a beetle, but all the professors in the world cannot make a beetle.”
― Arthur Schopenhauer
This quote from Schopenhauer sums up where we are now in the human species vs. the rest of Life. We human beings have spent centuries using up finite resources that, once gone, cannot be replaced or recreated. We take and take and take and cannot create what we have wiped out.
100 or so acres were cleared behind a friend’s property in Carnation to make way for 5-acre parcels. Walking the trails that used to wind through forest, one now makes one’s way through slash piles and carcasses of trees and upended root systems that supported the tree in its life. The land lies unprotected and desiccated. The dried wood lies gray. I am not sure what the piles are waiting for: lightning, a torch of fire, metal jaws attached to machines which rip life from the earth to load them into dump trucks to clear them away to make way for…
It always upsets me when I see crews out, cutting limbs and disfiguring branches to protect the precious power lines that we have forgotten how to live without. I always see the stumps of branches as phantom limbs that now give the remaining tree pain. Or when the sap runs from the severed attachments, I see blood. It takes decades for such trees to grow and mere seconds for us to fell them. Can’t replace that one. Or that one. Plant new ones, wait years ― you still can’t replace any one of them.
Process Theology was beginning to become popular in Western liberal seminaries in the 1980s. It was developed from Alfred Whitehead’s process philosophy by Charles Hartshorne and John Cobb. Process theology essentially says that God is not static, removed from “temporal processes.” This refutes the notion of God as unchangeable or unaffected by the universe and our world. Here is the part that I latched on to from this theology: Creation is not done being created or coming into being. Humans, in partnership with God or the Divine, are “co-creators” of creation. Creation is not done yet; it is still unfolding and we are part of that unfolding.
I have since translated all of that thought into an acknowledgment that all that is possible has not been brought into being yet. We are pure potential and possibility. Humans, by partnering with imagination and creativity, bring forth what is still to be born or created. Yes, we can clone, we can hybridize, we can genetically modify. But recreate or create any extinct species from nothing? The foods I eat, the animals and birds I have seen ― none of them may exist when my great nieces and nephews are my age now. If I let that reality sink in then my only action must be to protect these beings’ futures.
Our 7th principle, which was adopted in 1985, tells us to “affirm and promote…respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” Each species lost means that a part of our lives are also lost or diminished as well. We have to stop stomping out beetles…
Peace, Shalom, Salaam,