Friday, November 8, 2013

Nature can, nature will and nature has

Other parts of the nation went to bed last night dreading the next day’s news about what Typhoon Yolanda, considered as one of the biggest storms ever to form in world history, will leave in her wake. As the sun was setting yesterday, Yolanda was making landfall in central Philippines, but her tremendous power can be felt hundreds of kilometers away up here in the Cordilleras. It was humbling – with all the illusions of power and greatness people surround themselves with, Yolanda’s presence reminded us that we’re but tiny members of one vast community living on nothing but a dot floating almost defenselessly in the universe.

I overheard this quip in an upscale restaurant a few days ago: I already followed it up with the person in charge, but don’t worry, if he doesn’t act on it, I will make sure you get your permission to cut those trees.

Is it progress when we significantly diminish the quality of life of a community, of human beings in a community, of all living beings in a community? Because that’s the reason they give for the rape of our natural environment – progress. In today’s society, the advocates of this so-called progress, the perpetrators of this rape are called leaders, and the people who call attention to the crime are labeled as troublemakers. The former get pats on the back, plaques of recognition, golf club memberships, fat bank accounts while the latter get smirks, scorn and contempt when the former get stuck in traffic during public demonstrations denouncing the crimes being perpetuated against our mother.

Nature can make the tiniest seed grow into a towering tree, taller than any other living being on this planet. Nature can, from the tiniest cell, create the most amazing and beautiful living beings – a brightly colored flower on the ground, an eagle floating in the air, a gentle giant quietly making its way in the ocean. Nature can inspire us with the most amazing sun rise, nourish us with a gentle rain, or cleanse the air that we breathe.

Nature can, nature will and nature has.

And nature can make the slightest movement deep underground that can result in lives lost and so much destruction and cause ocean waves to rise to unbelievable levels. Nature can cause so much earth to come rushing down a mountainside burying everything and everyone in its path. And now, nature showed us that it can gather enough power from thin air and turn it into what we call a storm, a super typhoon named Yolanda, and all the concrete monuments to crass capitalism, the parking buildings for your SUVs, the expensive high-rise condominiums mean nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Nature can, nature will and nature has.

She lets us take from her, but expects us to leave enough, give back enough, to maintain that delicate balance between what we need to live our lives and what she needs to continue providing for us. All she asks of each one of us is to do what we can to help keep that balance. After all, she is us, we are nature, as trees are, and birds, and turtles and fish, and butterflies, too. The real community we belong to is the one that made our existence possible at all, nature, and not the artificial, “progress”-driven one that we’ve created where life is easily bartered for 13 pieces of silver, where a life-giving tree is a mere obstacle to a bigger mall, where a home for birds and other tiny living beings are never part of the blueprint.

I choose to live my life belonging to, and defending and enhancing the community that made my existence possible at all.

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