In the natural world, nature culls itself. Fires spread through thick forests so that old trees can lie and new tries can grow anew. Bacteria, the oldest living thing in the world, perish in high heat, including the kind of heat generated by human fevers. And snakes feed on birds which feed on worms which feed on earthly organisms which feed on us and others.
It’s all so obvious, but somehow, in the recent last 100 years of human history, we’ve forgotten that mother nature is inescapably persuasive in making sure equilibrium is maintained. The earth’s living organisms have survived despite numerous extinctions and disasters. Evolution, despite the current hysteria about it in the States, is a cruel and stringent process; living things pass on when living things live on. It’s odd that we’ve forgotten this despite our aggregate longevity, we all assume we’ll live to the average age of 76 in the West. But nature or “nature” is so supremely larger and smarter than us.
Though nature is no closer to us than it was previously, it feels near and getting nearer. Avian bird flu is now in Europe and could easily reach North America in a matter of weeks. A pandemic is not without possibility and, when it reaches probability, the human and economic devestation will have to be immense. Earthquakes and floods have taken thousands of lives just in the past few months. It’s all of biblical proportions because, I think, we’ve forgotten that the Bible is rooted in the fear of G-d and the natural world. The writers and notetakers of the Torah were young scholars. They perhaps didn’t even have beards and surely they didn’t have very grey hair. But they did have a real sense that the world is unjustly beautiful and compels us to understand the probability of our near mortality.