Ed. Note: We are happy to share this reader response, which is part of a series developed by environmental science students at Loyola University Chicago from the course Environmental Sustainability.
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”-John Muir “The Yosemite”
It was very early in the day, about 8 o’clock in the morning. Incessantly fighting with myself to get out of bed but the bond between my bed and I could not be broken. It felt almost as if my body was sunken into the bed, along with my motivation to get up. My father bursts in the door, almost felt as if this was a classic LAPD raid but what could an innocent child like myself have done possibly? But the way my dad burst in, one would’ve thought they were the suspect in a horrific crime.
In his loud deep voice, he informs me the grass needs to be cut. I get up, slowly but surely, dreading the hour long process of a sweat filled chore. I walk, angrily, grab the lawn mower and finish the job quicker than I got out of bed. After mowing the lawn, I stand on my deck, observing the job I just accomplished. The aroma of the fresh cut grass from many different directions invading my nostrils, creating this smell that seemed so unfamiliar but so recognizable.
I never once acknowledged the beauty of such a smell or the alluring scenery right in front of my eyes as my Border Collie runs across the field overtaken by joy with a wide cheery smile. Standing still filled with content, the epiphany of the beauty of nature and the presence of it arose in my head. Carefully analyzing my dog connecting with the environment he wildly runs in, I realize nature is not just “something” that is there but it is unique and a part of us.
The bond between humans, animals, and nature cannot be simplified because it is very complex yet understood when one dives in nature. Prior to that early morning, I was oblivious to the beauty of nature, the impact of nature and how much mysteries are instilled in nature. Nature cannot be understood through an extrinsic perspective but through an intrinsic view. One cannot only know of the word nature, but one has to know nature.
The spring afternoons that consist of winds grazing your skin, as the cool air appears that went into hiding during winter is known as one indulges in nature and takes a second to realize what is really surrounding them. That is the beauty of nature many do not know due to the disconnect from nature. Think about this as the old saying, “you realize what you have, once it is gone.” That is the reality of one being a part from nature, they are oblivious to the beauty nature possesses.
As all of nature is interconnected, it is important one carries an intrinsic value of it, rather than an instrumental value. The oxygen provided by trees and plants are great examples of why an intrinsic value is important to have regarding nature, and the components of nature. One with instrumental values tend to see nature as something we “use,” which alludes to lack of care for that instrument as there is “abundant” supply, at least what most think. For example, throwing away water bottles, or littering can cause waste to end up in wrong places where it should not be, like in the ocean. About “80% of marine debris originates from sources on land” (US Department of Commerce 1999; Ramirez-Llodra et al. 2011). Many aren’t affected by that, because they aren’t part of nature but rather apart. When one is a part, it is as if it becomes a part of you. One tends to consider the impact of their actions on the environment through a cause-and-effect perspective.
Imagine taking your dog on a walk down the city park trail of your town, on a nice warm afternoon. You take a seat and get situated but as you sit down, you realize your dog swallowed plastic then slowly began to choke. Very horrific imagery, right? Sadly, that is the reality marine creatures face through the acts of one that feels those creatures are not as important as a dog but the truth is they hold a position in impactful services to the community. In addition, pollution that ends up in their ecosystems causes relocation and uninhabitable ecosystems. The facts of it is that the ocean is also a part of nature. Furthermore, the waste these marine animals consume can eventually hurt the people that eat those animals. Entirely, it is a lose lose situation.
The perspective of nature being a part of our lives rather than apart from our lives, alludes to care for nature, less waste produced, and creates a sense of community amongst the people and nature. The mindset of being a part of nature allows one to obtain a better grasp of the beauty nature possess. The birds chirping that invade the piercing silence in the morning not only brings me joy but allows me to understand the beauty of nature more. Those chirps, the fast winds, the aroma of plants, the oxygen those plants provide, all sound and feel like an orchestra coming together for my joy.
It is difficult to obtain this feeling or to experience it if one does not look deeper into nature. The only way one can look deep is to realize nature works with us and is part of our daily lives. The plants you constantly spit or step on, they provide oxygen. The pond you are peeing in after a hazy night with the friends, those are ecosystems that animals need. The plastic you throw away, ends up in the ecosystems of those animals, which alludes to them choking on those plastics. Animals take care of us, by providing many benefits people are unaware of, why not take care of them?
Furthermore, the essence of nature cannot be disclosed if one doesn’t take a step back, take a deep breath and acknowledge the beauty that God has put in front of you. Nature carries much with it such as unexplainable creatures like the Pygmy Three Toed Sloth or the white Tiger. Can you imagine how those beings came to be? They are all part of nature. Your favorite animal? Whichever animal came to mind, that is also part of nature. Your actions affect their livelihood and their ecosystem. All of those are interconnected, which is important to know but one can only know that by caring. Caring can only happen by realizing you are PART of nature and not APART.
Index, Ocean Health. “Trash Pollution.” Ocean Health Index, OCH, www.oceanhealthindex.org/methodology/components/trash-pollution. Johnson, Vannessa. “Earth’s Oceans: How We Are Polluting Them – Age of Awareness – Medium.” Medium, Age of Awareness, 29 Feb. 2016, medium.com/age-of-awareness/earth-s-oceans-how-we-are-polluting-them-cc1b39daa53e.