The world is such a beautiful place and exists without our help

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

The world’s storms and winds and sunshine and seasons roll over us and everything else like we’re not here. But it is humankind, not nature, that is the entity at fault for war, genocide, injustice, prejudice, obesity, the concreting of the world. The world itself – nature – is impartial in its daily behaviors, however disruptive and ruinous; it is only we who are picky about who we pick on for our disruptive and ruinous behavior.

There are a few things we’ve done now and then or that we do on a regular basis that have made the world a better place.

If we recycle, the world is less of a trash heap. We are the ones, after all, who have trashed it. Nature may erupt it, tear it up with wind, flood it, torch it off . . . but nature doesn’t leave dirty diapers and cigarette butts, old empty Walmarts, dead cars, flat tires and landfills that pile up for miles.

The rearing of our children? We’re not so great at this. If we were, we wouldn’t have the very long trail behind us of wars and genocides and so on. Nature’s offspring kill each other, but most of them don’t go on rampages or kill just because they can or because they’re ticked off at bear society or wolf family or bunny world.

The inventors among us have helped the world in many ways. Thank goodness for 16th-century author Sir John Harington, who invented the flush toilet for Queen Elizabeth I; a few centuries later came a plumber named Mr. Thomas Crapper, whom we need to thank because he patented nine ways to make the toilet work better.

And Ms. Amelia Bloomer, in mid-19th century America, popularized a split-skirt fashion for women’s ease in getting around, in working, in being comfortable. If it weren’t for the legions of wild women who defied custom and took to the bloomer, we might still be wearing corsets and long skirts as big around as a hula hoop because most men considered the bloomer a usurpation of male authority. (Really.) An Iowa woman in 1856 wrote a letter to the women’s magazine Sibyl saying that bloomers were “especially suited for life on the prairie. . . .”*

For fun like we’d never experienced before, along came Mr. George Ferris, Jr., who invented his giant ride-on toy, the Ferris Wheel.

There are other sorts of inventors besides the ones who make our lives easier and more fun. This would be the inventors of explosives, bows and arrows, killer chemical combos, nuclear bombs. I don’t know if I should be chastising the inventors or the people who take the inventions and use them for ill. Although in a turn-around, chemical combinations invented for World War II warfare are now used for cancer warfare, sometimes successfully.

The world is indeed a complicated place, and the early humans — Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon man and such — were no doubt scared silly by lightning and lava and lizard T-Rex. But, really, our slow but steady “advancement” as a species must seem like a curse to World, the entity that might be pleased to exist without any of our help at all; in fact, without us, period.

* Sibyl, July, August, 1856

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