Sunday, February 6, 2011

Pondering on death, nature and eternal perspectives

In environmental biology, death is necessary in order to maintain population equilibrium when there is too much of one specie, it throws the whole system off. For example too many eagles in a population could kill off all of the frogs in an area and the area would be overrun with mosquitos and other flying insects because the frogs aren't there to keep their population in check. Death is a primary means of controlling population and maintaining that equilibrium. This then ties into the idea of "survival of the fittest," in order for populations to thrive, the weakest (often the young, old and sickly) need to not stand in the way of the overall population being healthy. If that means picking up and moving 2,000 miles, the weak are not able to make that trek, and they die either before the trip or along the way.

In that way, I do not think that death is a mistake of nature when all of the species of the natural world depend on a finite number of resources. The earth would not be able to provide for everyone and everything if everything lived forever. To maintain an eternal perspective, we must be willing to believe that this world is not all that there is. Is there an ideal place where there are enough resources to maintain life for everyone and everything without depleting those resources? Yes. Is it the earth in its state right now? No.

We do have the promise of a celestialized world where all of those concerns will not exist anymore or perhaps, we'll have been the ones to figure out the sustainable solutions rather that expect Christ to come and save us in our sins (e.g. fixing everything that we have so royally screwed up). So with that, you can find the eternal perspective of looking forward to when the earth is not limited by finite resources and have optimism that someday that ideal will be realized.

When it comes to connecting with nature, ritual and elements, while here on earth, I think it requires a healthy respect for death and an understanding of how all things work together for good. Nature is an intricate dance of interactions between species and systems. It finds a balance and has a way to correct imbalances over time. No mortal human or group of humans could work it out so well. I believe because nature is so finely tuned to work properly and that there are even good reasons for things to work improperly at times. Because of this, I believe that nature is worthy of respect and reverence. After all, without it, we could not exist. The elements are essential to our survival.

If we are to develop beyond where we are now and if we hope to turn our attentions to the things of the next world, we still have to respect and be mindful of the needs of now. I believe that as we make ourselves and our world healthier that we are more capable of learning what life has to offer us. This I believe is the intention behind of the Word of Wisdom (D&C 89).

At the same time, we are in the process of preparing to become gods (D&C 132:20). We are going to have to figure out at some point how to create and maintain worlds so life can perpetuate itself. If we are wise stewards on the earth now, we are like the servants in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25). When we are given something to start with, we are capable of turning in to something more or better than what we started with. Isn't that what is happening with us? And isn't that what we are supposed to do as gods?

I truly fear the the people who believe that it is not useful to sustain and conserve the earth are being like the servant who hides his talent. To me, its not so much a matter of replenishing the earth (because that implies taking it back to a previous state) but it is a matter of making the world better than when we started. And really, this is leading me to a new idea, that replenishing the earth may be a direction to restore the earth to its paradisiacal state in the Garden of Eden. That us humans are expected to figure out how to make that possible. I suspect that its a case "after all you can do, it is by grace you saved"(2 Nephi 25: 23) or in other words the parable of the bicycle. The little girl works and earns money to buy a bicycle but her parents pitch in the rest after she did all he could to earn the money. The Atonement works that way for us (Believing Christ: subheading Give Him All That We Have). After we put forth our best effort, do all we can and get as close as possible to attaining a seemingly (or truly) impossible goal, Christ, our Older Brother, will make up the rest of us and makes our efforts successful in attaining the goal.

In fact, I kind of have a theory that Christ will not come again until we have done as we can do to make the world as healthy and sustaining for everyone as possible. Its not until we do all we can, that he will come again and pick up where we left off.

I realize this is somewhat in contradiction to the general teachings of the Second Coming, but it is how I am finding a way to continue caring about this life. The ethical, right, good, praiseworthy choice seems to be working to make the world a better place through comforting those who stand in need of comfort and mourning with those who mourn. Often that can be done by working to prevent the situations where mourning is necessary (as in the case of infant mortality or unemployment). There is much much good that we can do in this world, and it makes no sense to not do it.

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