Many years ago, my sister told me about a video she watched in a class in school. The video was showing a mountain lion stalking a snowshoe hare in the cold winter snows. During the beginning of the chase, most of the class was cheering for the hare, hoping it would get away from the mountain lion and not get eaten.
Then the movie cut to the mountain lion’s den. There were several cubs there, all but helpless and hungry, and the mountain lion had not been successful with hunting the past few days. Both her and her cubs were in danger of starving. The mountain lion was chasing that hare to feed her cubs. When the video went back to the chase, the class was now rooting for the mountain lion, hoping it would catch the hare so the cubs wouldn’t starve.

Why did the class switch sides? Does it matter if the mountain lion is hunting for herself or for her cubs? I bet it doesn’t matter to the hare. I bet the mountain lion would still be hunting even if she didn’t have any cubs to feed.

After a long and arduous chase, the mountain lion did manage to catch the hare, and bring it home to her cubs. Then the announcer pointed out that the mountain lion had burned more calories chasing the hare than she would get from eating it, even if she ate the whole thing and brought nothing back to her cubs. Which of course, she didn’t do, her cubs had dinner that night. But the momma mountain lion was still going hungry, and still in danger of starving. And then how would her cubs survive?

There’s always at least two sides to every story, usually more than two.

There’s always two sides to Nature as well. Most people enjoy bright, warm sunny days, but if every day was warm bright and sunny, where would we be? Dead. Rain and snow, pollen and insects are considered nuisances, but without them, where would we be? Dead. Wild fires and hurricanes and earthquakes are often considered horrible tragedies, but they are just a part of nature. All these and more are destructive, but in the aftermath, life springs back in abundance.

Somewhere, some time in the distant forgotten past, someone decided to use fire to keep warm, to light up the night, to cook food. How did it happen? I don’t know. But it’s possible someone learned a thing or two from surviving wild fires, and used what they learned to contain a small fire that could be used.

warmth in freezing cold
bright flame Life and Death raging
inferno burning

The earth sometimes quakes and shakes, then buildings and mountains shift and fall. But we use the earth to build our homes, by extracting stone or metal, or using wood from trees that grow in the earth. The earth nourishes the plants we eat and the plants that animals eat which we eat in turn.

stable, fertile soil
growing Life and Death slick mud
sliding, earth quaking

The Nile River floods every year. The ancient Egyptians, instead of fighting the river and building walls to try to contain the flooding, they worked with the river and used the fields the floods nourished to grow crops once the floods receded. The ocean rises up and floods the land, from tsunami or storm surge, yet by traveling on the ocean, people discovered the world, and from the ocean comes abundant food.

life-giving moisture
soothing Life and Death rapid
rising drowning flood

The wind can howl and beat upon us, knock down trees, create devastating dust storms, and make every other type of weather more dangerous, whether it be rain, snow, or cold. Yet we breathe air every second of every day of our life. Without it, we die. Using air, we flew kites, balloons, hang gliders, and eventually, airplanes and helicopters.

gentle cooling breeze
breath of Life and Death whirling
wind whipping, storming

Every aspect of nature is complicated and multi-faceted. Plants seem like the ultimate pacifists, taking fatalism to the extreme. If that’s what you think, you would be wrong. Plants wage war on each other, battling for the most sun, the most water, the most soil. They strategize the best ways to gather nutrients, to spread their seeds, and to give their seeds advantages over other seeds trying to grow. Plants will strangle each other and feed off the rotting corpses of their fallen enemies. Plants are creatures doing everything they can to survive, just like every other form of life on the planet, and they will not hesitate to use violence in order to do so, just like every other form of life on this planet.

Every aspect of nature has the potential to be helpful or deadly, depending on how it is used or abused. Everything you think is bad can be put to good use, and anything that we use to make our lives easier or healthier can be used to hurt or destroy.

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