(this is a featured article in this month’s issue of The Be Zine. Click here to see the whole thing.)
Once upon a time, there were a bunch of Big Brains who decided that living things (which they rarely called ‘living beings’) needed to be neatly organized. Grouping things together based on similarity was important to them for some reason. So they made up categories and named them Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species, in succession from broad to specific. Then they had to remember these categories, so they memorized “Kindly Professors Cannot Often Fail Good Students” – apropos of nothing much. (Personally, I think “Kindly People Courageously Offer Fauna/Flora General Sympathy” might make better sense.)
Meanwhile, some other Big Brains decided that everything in the Universe was made by one Creator and that He gave humans dominion over all the other animal species on Earth and gave every plant for human use. That made them feel they were Most Important among the creatures on the planet. They felt very comfortable with that and valued themselves, and those that looked and acted most like them, very highly.
As for those creatures who were terribly different from them, well, they were kind of “icky”.
Well, these Big Brains were very clever. They prospered and multiplied (and divided and conjugated and came up with quantum physics). They learned how to make a Big Impact on the Earth, making things they liked out of the raw materials Earth had. And every year, there were more of them. They liked to be comfortable, so they tried to eliminate things that bothered them. Like locusts. And dandelions.
They liked to be powerful, so they claimed victories over other living things that had power. Like lions. And giant sequoias.
Gradually, they noticed that some of the other living things (or Living Beings) were disappearing completely. Some people thought that was a shame, especially if the thing was useful or furry or had a face. Others noticed that when one type of thing was gone, things began to change for the rest as well. A few Big Brains began to ask some really Tough Questions about why things on the Earth were changing so quickly and whether the Big Impact of humans had anything to do with it.
I can’t tell you the ending of this story. Perhaps the Big Brains will disappear like so many other Living Beings did, and Earth will go on without them. Perhaps the Big Brains will become less numerous, less dominant, and Earth will go on with them. Perhaps something altogether different will happen. It doesn’t really matter how I tell the story.
What does matter?
What we Big Brains decide to do with all matter will matter and will help tell the end of the story.
This week’s challenge is perfect for the photos I took yesterday at Hippie Tom’s Serendipity Farm – an antique/junque pickers’ and gleaners’ mecca in Southeastern Wisconsin. Steve and I were out for a ramble through a wildlife area and stumbled upon the road signs advertizing his sale. The parking area was bustling, TV cameras were rolling, and Hippie Tom was in full swing for Spring. It seems that his farm is only open twice a year for the public to browse and discover treasure in his vast complex of old out-buildings. It’s a jungle of old and semi-new, broken and mostly intact, recyclable and re-purposeable stuff. And we do create a lot of stuff, us humans. It makes no sense to simply throw it on a trash heap, polluting the land with it. Reduce, reuse, recycle, refuse. Broken is not finished. There is purpose and life even during brokenness. If there weren’t, I wouldn’t be able to type with my left pinkie right now. (Broke it in high school. It’s distinctly crooked, but usable. Yup, I play keyboards and sometimes guitar with it…not expertly, but ‘proficiently’.)