Hey, human, where’s your invitation?
If human beings are “just guests” on this planet, as one of my readers claims, who are we the guests of? The birds and the bees? Space aliens? Bill Gates? Halliburton? The Saudis? Who?
If we are “just guests” then we do not belong to the environment like bears, wild mustangs, hedgehogs and hyenas. Maybe we’re just guests of the vultures and the morticians.
When you are someone’s guest, that person usually puts you up and feeds you. As humans on planet Earth, we have to pay for roofs over our heads out of our own pockets, and chocolate chip cookies and mocha almond fudge ice cream are not cheap. If you are a guest, your host should prepare a place for you and plan some activities. As humans on planet Earth, birds don’t build human houses and put them outside for us, and squirrels haven’t done a thing for my social life.
Guests, at least according to the way I was raised, are not required to cook, do laundry or clean the bathroom. Although some humans have managed to free themselves from those responsibilities, like Queen Elizabeth I suppose, most of us are stuck with having to do our own dirty work. I have yet to train a bear to do my laundry.
On the other hand, if I were a guest in your home, I would offer to help you with your chores. How often do we offer to help coyotes hunt moles?
This ridiculous notion that we are “just guests” on the planet is not only false, in my opinion, it is a dangerous idea. It presumes that the environment belongs to all the other creatures, and we humans have no right to it, as if we were inferior to all other living things.
OK. There may, in some instances, be a good case for that, but as a fundamental idea, the “Guest Theory” is patently absurd. It is simply not true. It suggests that humans are not really at home in the environment as much as its non-human inhabitants. It makes Eskimos bad for killing seals and whales, and little old ladies bad for hanging hummingbird feeders.
If I’m a guest here in the mountains, the birds and the bears must really love having me around because they haven’t thrown my belongings out in the dirt yet.
Although there may be some good intentions associated with it, let’s avoid making too much out of this Guest Theory hype, for our own sake. Not that there’s a whole lot we can do to reverse the disastrous trends so many humans have embarked upon by overstaying their welcome and abusing the privilege of stewardship of the Earth. Let’s not make it any worse by going to the other extreme and spewing out false doctrines about nature’s welcome wagon. The Earth is our home. We have a right to be here.
When I was in college in the Northwest, my friends and I loved to get some beer and drive out to the dumps near some of the more rural towns of Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana to see the bears. We were never disappointed. We always saw bears scrounging for food. They found human food scraps and we were thoroughly entertained. It was a perfect symbiotic relationship.
Without an advantageous, and often necessary, symbiotic relationship between dissimilar organisms, many species would not survive. We are intimately associated with all life. If a carload of drunk college kids hanging out at the town dumps can figure that out, I guess anybody can.
Sometimes the symbiosis has disastrous results, like when humans experiment on animals and find cures for human disease. That leads to better health for humans, which means more humans.
Oh well. Nothing’s perfect.
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