I AM THE GRASS
Others have said it. I am not the first. On Friday, March 11, 2011 the people of Japan, a wealthy nation and the world’s third largest economy, awoke to their unimagined vulnerability, having suffered two natural disasters: a 9.0 earthquake and a devastating Tsunami that caused a meltdown in its Fukushima atomic energy plant. Certainly the human race is capable of bringing much destruction upon itself, but a natural disaster of this magnitude puts us in our place. We talk of global warming and the human carbon footprint, but with all humility, we are Lilliputians against nature’s power. Whatever we do, it will endure, though the changes we make may leave the world no longer hospitable to our kind. Perhaps rightly so as we’ve shown little respect for the system that nurtures us.
I am not suggesting the Japanese did anything to deserve what happened to them. They didn’t. But their suffering serves as a stark reminder of our position in this universe. We walk upon the earth in sufferance, as one specie among billions and are as vulnerable to nature’s tempests as is the humble bee. We are not kings though we call ourselves such. We are mortal and do no long endure. What happened in Japan should give us pause. While we have no power over nature’s violence, we can control our own. Let us take responsibility for the wars and pestilence we bring. Let us change ourselves for ourselves. Nature, I suspect, will be indifferent.
“Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo,
Shovel them under and let me work…
I am the grass; I cover all.
And pile them high at Gettysburg,
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?
I am the grass.
Let me work.”
(Carl Sandburg’s “Grass”)