The more technologically savvy our society becomes and as our cities become larger and more urbanized our connection with nature gets weaker and weaker. It is difficult to remember the natural beauty of a 100 year old oak tree while you dwell in the city where you are lucky to see a tree every three blocks. Our attitudes (especially people who live in very urbanized areas) tend to think that civilization surrounds nature instead of “wilderness [as] the element in which we live encased in civilization.”(1)
I am not stating that our technological advances are a bad thing, but we must remember the importance of nature. People need to experience nature. One reason is that the beauty of nature excites our senses, but it also is a perfect place to experience personal growth and meditation. From a logical standpoint though, learning more about nature can lead to growth as a society.
As humans, we are constantly looking to be awed. We look to beauty to do this. Nature offers the most pure form of beauty. Nature is stunning, yet not distracting. Our senses are enlightened by the magnificence of it yet we are not so distracted that we cannot think of anything else. It’s not the flash of a million colorful lights or the awe inspiring power of a larger than life sky scrapper.
This kind of beauty demands your attention while the beauty of nature is humbly offered. A baby is a great example of our attraction to nature or just natural things in general. When there is a baby in a room full of people, people cannot help but stare and coo over it. We are attracted to them. I think a big reason for this is because they act so natural.
They are not analyzing their actions, they are completely uninhibited. Society has not shaped them and told them what is right and wrong and how they should act. Everything is much more appealing in the most basic, natural form. Nature is the closest thing we have to perfection. There is no denying the fact that we love to stare at the oranges and yellows of a sunset or enjoy the deep greenish blue of the ocean. We fill vases with flowers in our home in hopes that it will make our home more appealing. Life should always be celebrated and beauty if part of life. We should look for it and admire it, especially in nature.
A lot of this sense of perfection comes from a “higher, namely, of the spiritual element.”(2) Many religions are centered on the grace of their god(s) and are often believed that the perfection of nature is a reflection of the perfection of their god(s). In Christianity and Judaism, God was the essential creation of nature. In the bible “when a noble act is done-perchance a scene of great beauty”(2) will appear such as the rainbow that appeared after the flood that lasted for 40 days and nights in the story of Noah’s Ark. Perhaps why we are so attracted to natural beauty is it makes us feel closer to God. Or maybe just something bigger than ourselves.
Nature has a spiritual quality to it which offers the ideal place to meditate. If one wants to learn more about themselves, then they should learn about nature because that is where we came from. “It is hard to escape the sense of one’s predecessors”(1) when we spend enough time outside of civilization. We all once used to dwell among nature with animals and all other forms of life. Civilization is simply a wall which we have placed between us and nature. When we are in nature we have “striped away the human façade” (1) than stands between us and the universe and we can “see more clearly” (1) where we are.
Thoreau stated in Walden “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth”(3) and there is nothing more truthful than nature. Nature is as truthful as it gets. Alone in the woods, away from society and the people in it, one is allowed to escape the influence of society and influence themselves independently. There we can figure out who we truly are and not what society makes us believe we are. I constantly hear of people talking about the importance of having a diversity of people and ideas on earth, yet how can we have true diversity if we are unable to discover out natural selves free from society? Nature is not only the window into our history, but also to the core of our existence. Nature offers perspective to people and our place in this world.
Some might view my past two arguments as exceedingly unsatisfying. Why should we care if it beautiful or if it helps us “discover” ourselves? But one argument cannot be denied: nature is the key to the survival of the human race. We use the stars to navigate, we till the land to plant our crops, trees provide us with oxygen, we use plants for medicine, and we drink the water from lakes and creek. The list goes on and on.
“The endless circulations of the divine charity nourish man”(2) while nature never expects anything back. It is strange how we forget about nature when it is the essential factor to our survival. When people experience nature, they are more likely to join the effort to conserve it and its resources. If we learn to appreciate it, then we will want to take care of it.
Ecological conservation and preservation is extremely important. Not only does nature offer important nature resources, but there have also been studies that suggest that people who spend more time outside are typically happy and healthier individuals. There has also been research that points to a correlation between stress levels and the amount of time spent outside. Nature provides us with general health and well being.
Each year we build more buildings, more houses, and more roads. We do this so we can continue to progress as a society, but as we do this we must remember nature because it also helps us progress as a society. Without it, there would be no society. Nature is beautiful, insightful and necessary. We must never forget about it and we must always work to protect it.