Monday, February 20, 2006

Birds and Humans

In today's Boston Globe, James Carroll considers what the spread of avian flu means for the troubled relationship between humans and nature. Here is his conclusion:

The deep memory of Genesis posits a human dominion over nature, but the banishment from Eden indicates an alienation from it. Today, the so-called environment is discussed as if it is a surrounding bubble, like a space capsule that can be replaced when it is trashed.

Judging from our reckless disregard, we humans seem to imagine that we can have a destiny independent of the earth on which live; even that word "on" suggests the problem, since the truth is that we humans are the earth. It is more than where we come from, where we go. Indeed, we get our name from "humus," the word for earth. Did we think we could forget that and not suffer for it?

If the worst case unfolds, and the dreaded transmission mutations occur, avian flu might be taken as nature's revenge for the human despoiling of the planet. The best case will be that this outbreak came as a timely reminder that the health of humanity and the health of nature, including beloved winged creatures, are the same thing.

Read the entire column here.