When you hear the word “conservationist”, what comes to mind? Maybe it’s the image of someone who holds a respect for the environment, devoting time into making conscious decisions and going against the status quo of a destructive, unsustainable society. Possibly the image is of someone who is actively working towards restoring a broken habitat through their gained understanding of biology, ecology and chemistry. Or, perhaps the image you thought of was yourself.
Through our curiosity we learn about the natural world and through our compassion we choose to do what we can to protect it. A common theme in the environmental movement is “reversing” the harm which we have inflicted on our natural world. We tend to approach this through our conservation efforts with a sense that it is our “duty” given our understanding of the natural world through scientific research. Although, how can we scale this “duty” that we feel in reversing our own destruction, and by doing so, are we putting our own selves on a some earthly pedestal?
This thought can conjure up many questions for humankind, for the environmental movement, and for the earth-passionate individual. I came across a quote a few months ago that expanded my own perception of conservation efforts and our place as humans on this Earth that I feel can help bring clarity to some of these types of questions:
“With amazing arrogance we presume omniscience and an understanding of the complexities of Nature, and with amazing impertinence, we firmly believe that we can better it… We have forgotten that we, ourselves, are just a part of nature, and an animal which seems to have taken the wrong turning, bent on total destruction.” – Daphne Sheldrick, The Tsavo Story.
This quote holds the environmental movement accountable for our approach to conservation. It should serve as a reminder that those who hold respect and an understanding of the natural world, still must be warned of the potential of motives driven by self-interest. When it comes down to it, we are just one animal among millions, who lives under the power of the Earth and nature, not above it.
We need to be reminded as we move forward uncovering our impact and seeking ways to amend a long history of destruction, that we are merely assisting in the process of recovery. We cannot give ourselves the full power for this, for what is our duty is to give the Earth back that power. Nature knows much more of itself than we as humans think we know about nature. There is still much for us to learn, and as we move forward in seeking those answers and applying conservation efforts, we must remember “that we, ourselves, are just a part of nature, and an animal which seems to have taken the wrong turning” and that it should be through our compassion without egoism, which moves us forward with such efforts.