For the Uses of Man

No dogma taught by the present civilization seems to form so insuperable
an obstacle in the way of a right understanding of the relations
which culture sustains to wildness as that which regards the world

as made especially for the uses of man.

Every animal, plant, and crystal controverts it in the plainest terms.
Yet it is taught from century to century as something ever new and precious,
and in the resulting darkness the enormous conceit is allowed to go unchallenged.

I have never yet happened upon a trace of evidence that seemed to show
that any one animal was ever made for another as much as it was made for itself.
Not that Nature manifests any such thing as selfish isolation.
In the making of every animal the presence of every other animal has been recognized.
Indeed, every atom in creation may be said to be acquainted with
and married to every other, but with universal union there is a division
sufficient in degree for the purposes of the most intense individuality;
no matter, therefore, what may be the note which any creature forms
in the song of existence, it is made first for itself, then more and more remotely
for all the world and worlds.

The scenery of the ocean, however sublime in vast expanse,
seems far less beautiful to us dry-shod animals than that of the land
seen only in comparatively small patches; but when we contemplate
the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents
and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together
as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty.

 —John Muir
from Nature Writings
with thanks to brainpickings


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