Prepare for rambling...NOW.
I recently finished the book Ishamel, by Daniel Quinn, which is absolutely a keeper. Fantastic read. Basically, the point that it is trying to make is that humans have an attitude towards the Earth unlike any other being in creation, and that through our understanding of our role on the Earth, we misuse it. Parts of it reminded me of my American Nature Writing class my senior year, when we discussed humanity's "Abrahamic" view of the Earth, referring to God giving land to Abraham, for Abraham to use for his people. Man has taken that reference very literally, believing that the Earth belongs to us for our consumption, and that we are God's ultimate creatures, designed to control all others. While these ideas are certainly up for debate, the main idea that I want to take from Ishmael is an idea that man would be better suited by observing and adapting to lifestyles embodied by our fellow creatures around us, understanding that we are but one part of a large and complex world.
That being said, I'll insert the other idea I'm grappling with here: violence. I sat in on a Christian non-violence and social change course this spring, and while there are many interesting tidbits I could share from that, there is one in particular that got to me. When discussing how a group of people can go about changing a culture (like ours) that feeds so much on violence, a buddy of mine named Stephen mentioned sports. He basically said that sports completely embody the violent method--your whole goal is to prove your physical and mental dominance over another person. That idea shook me. Even sports, something I dearly love, are at least in part violent.
With that in mind, I come back to Ishmael. If humans are indeed better off to observe and change our behavior more towards that of the animals around us, we basically HAVE to be violent. Much of nature, similar to sports, is based around physical and mental dominance. Only the strong survive. How can these two things be reconciled?
Is non-violence indeed simply an idea, a concept to strive after, but never achieve? I have denied that for years, and cannot bring myself to come to such a conclusion now. Perhaps our lesson could be found from a creature lower on the food chain. I suppose (at least, I'm guessing) that a gazelle on the African plains does not dwell on whether its life should be violent or not. It doesn't really have that option. Its life is mostly about food and water. And when a cheetah/lion/predator attacks said gazelle, the gazelle attempts to flee, and maybe it fights back, but I feel like mostly it accepts death in a graceful way unknown to mankind. The herd moves on. Perhaps our fear of death is what makes us violent...we so desperately want to survive that we are unable to recognize the inevitability, and also the grace, of becoming just another part of the food chain, a small cog in a much larger machine, part of an unending circle of life. (Yea Lion King!)
Well...if nothing else, that helped me put some thoughts down on paper. Soon I'll write a post that actually relates to going to Tucson. :)