Wilderness | Mankind’s Awkward Perception of Nature

Published: Sep 28, 2023
Edited by: Team TB

Wilderness | Mankind's Awkward Perception of Nature

It’s interesting that people often equate Nature with Wilderness. Wilderness, of course, relates to the words “wild” and “wildness” which have connotations of “uncultivated,” “disorder,” “unrestrained,” or even “violent.”

In fact, “the Wilderness” points to environments that are not under control of human beings, and as such are deemed “out of order.” Personally, I’ve always found such a thought or perception rather presumptuous, or even conceited.

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Nature as being something untamed and uncivilized, an environment that should be brought under control, is an idea that persists in many people’s minds. You see, I have lived several years in this so-called “wilderness” — and I mean the wilderness of the Amazon jungle — but actually there was little really “wild” about it. By contrast, after you get used to “the wild,” you start to see that it actually shows profound order, cleanliness, harmony, predictiveness, and cooperation.

The thing is that civilized people living in cities and villages are basically scared of Nature. It’s perhaps an ancient instinct originating from times that mankind still needed to fight for their place on Earth, where indeed Nature as a whole was much more threatening than today.

But let’s be honest, is that actually the case today? I doubt it very much. We can live in the midst of “the wild” pretty safely. We have the knowledge, tools and means to defend ourselves, if necessary. And my experience is that it’s seldom necessary at all. As it is, we can live quite in harmony with natural surroundings.

Truth is that our cities are better qualified to be called wilderness than untouched natural environments; crime, senseless violence, noise, air and water pollution, ruthless competition, (a)social conventions, inhumane working “ethics,” horrifying traffic, opportunistic politics, constant stress and anxiety, and whatnot. It’s a true wilderness characterized by utter disorder in a by mankind proclaimed “order.”

Fortunately, an increasing number of people around the world appreciates the Wilderness, may that because of esthetic, empathetic, spiritual, therapeutic, healing, and/or educational reasons. Moreover, the understanding grows that mankind needs a balanced and healthy Wilderness for its own survival on planet Earth.

In the end, we have come to realize that with all our “civilized control” and advanced technical abilities we are not able to bend the planet to our will. Controlling the climate, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, the activity of the atmosphere, solar system, and the sun are (and will stay) beyond our reach. The most we can do is not to disturb an already very delicate balance of life on Earth.

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