The case for Uncivilization
Song of the Builders by Mary Oliver 
On a summer morning
I sat down
on a hillside
to think about God –
a worthy pastime.
Near me, I saw
a single cricket;
it was moving the grains of the hillside
this way and that way.
How great was its energy,
how humble its effort.
Let us hope
it will always be like this,
each of us going on
in our inexplicable ways
building the universe.
Last weekend my wife and I were up at our cottage in Quebec, 4 hours north of Ottawa It is pretty wild up there – when you walk a few yards into the bush we find (as is usual in the Spring) deer carcasses eaten by the wolves, huge blocks of ice still melting in the shade of a high rock cliff – on Victoria day!
When we return from being in this other world where human beings are only peripheral to the over-riding reality of all the other species around us I often suffer a shock upon re-entering our human world. This happened this time, but it was more powerful than normal. We stopped at the Tulip festival, which should have been relaxing, but for me the crowds almost put me into panic mode – I could feel my hear racing, beads of sweat appearing and shortness of breath beginning. I was totally over-whelmed by humanity. I was totally shocked to be in a world – my normal world – where all the other species are only there to serve us, and it made me feel sick.
The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilisation.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
I asked myself when I got home: what has civilization done for us?
Allowed humans to reproduce like fleas on a cat that eventually kills the cat – the cat being the Earth and all other life.
Allowed us to live longer and grow taller.
Allowed us to travel more.
Allowed science, art, music, writing and other artifacts of culture to thrive.
OK, some of civilization is clearly good. But at what cost? Now, with increase in allergies, immune illnesses, mental health and addiction, learning disabilities, chronic stress, etc. it seems that our quality of life has peaked and is decreasing. But even if we accept these as a necessary part of the civilization bargain, I think that the fact that all the other species on the Earth are suffering at our expense, species that actually make life for our species possible, means that the experiment is over. The data is in. Our social experiment called Western Civilization, like all before it, has failed.
For there are Universal physical and Moral laws that we must obey, even if, like children “we don’t want”:
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s Third Law of Motion
You repay all people according to their deeds. Psalm 62
The current wildfires in Alberta are a good example of these laws. We abuse Nature, it abuses us right back.
If I believed that a wrathful God would simplistically punish us directly for our deeds it would almost make sense that Alberta is getting hit by wildfires shown above and having the highest fire risk right now in Canada:
But, don’t worry, I don’t. All I can say is this: go hug a tree. Save a worm after a rain. Become a beekeeper as I have. Spend time with other species – dog or budgie or moose. Feel and realize that we aren’t as special as we think are – all other life has as much value as we – besides, the truth is that without them we eventually die too. Live each day like it really matters – because it does. Join Extinction Rebellion: https://rebellion.earth/ . Read the Manifesto from the Dark Mountain Project: https://dark-mountain.net/ – here is part of it.
Those who witness extreme social collapse at first hand seldom describe any deep revelation about the truths of human existence. What they do mention, if asked, is their surprise at how easy it is to die. The pattern of ordinary life, in which so much stays the same from one day to the next, disguises the fragility of its fabric. How many of our activities are made possible by the impression of stability that pattern gives? So long as it repeats, or varies steadily enough, we are able to plan for tomorrow as if all the things we rely on and don’t think about too carefully will still be there. When the pattern is broken, by civil war or natural disaster or the smaller-scale tragedies that tear at its fabric, many of those activities become impossible or meaningless, while simply meeting needs we once took for granted may occupy much of our lives.
Most importantly, spend time in the woods: just be there – in silence, a small part of a much greater story.
Before we depart I leave you with this gift: read this The Case for Going Uncivilized, at https://www.outsideonline.com/1925046/case-going-uncivilized
So, I dare you, take the plunge and become less civilized and experience living in a completely new way!
By Gordon Kubanek, P.Eng., CACOR Board member
- Mary Oliver poetry https://peacefulrivers.homestead.com/maryoliver.html