Man and nature, like two gladiators in the arena

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Avatar for JeremySagnes
3 years ago
Topics: Nature

Man collectively behaves in front of nature like a mirmillon facing a Thracian in an arena in ancient Rome. To overcome this logic of confrontation, we must better define the rights of nature. But not sure as far as that does not bury the debates between liberticidal environmentalists and polluting libertarians, tells us in this land.

My maternal Grandmother was quite an extraordinary woman, especially when it came to her garden. She let nature do its work. In all circumstances, she let it be. The ivy was gradually devouring his favorite tree? She let it happen. Big crows chasing her beloved tits? She let it happen. Nature was, for her, a slow spectacle that she watched quietly. She only wanted to be a spectator, as passive as she was admiring.

It was only when I grew up that I understood that the originality of this old lady who fed me with chocolate lay in her relationship with nature. Few people prefer to be spectators rather than actors. As a general rule, let's face it, nature, we fight it. If we wanted to compare it to a spectacle, we would rather approach that of gladiators in the arena: mirmillon vs. thracian,  nature vs. humanity . If this show is somewhat morbid, we still choose, naturally, to be a character in the story rather than a spectator. The man intends to be one of the bloodthirsty heroes acclaimed by the Roman amphitheater. 

“I say it often: nature makes you very humble. Two years ago we were overrun with ants, so I bought a lot of ant products. But missed: the following spring, it was the flies. This year, I thought I was prepared with my cupboard filled with aerosols against flies and ants. And missed: this year, it's the wasps! This constant struggle with nature is exhausting, ”  my mother tells me mockingly, while pouring ammonia on the walls of her house in order to chase away the snakes.

Our collective behavior towards the environment, regardless of age or social class, takes the form of a confrontation

Like a samnite of ancient Rome, she is armed to the teeth, ready to fight against a troublesome nature with the most polluting chemicals. We must admit, we are all a bit like this 60-year-old Tomb Raider who draws faster than his shadow, RoundUp and other life-killing products. We want cold when nature gives us heat. We speed up when it slows down. We kill when it swarms. This world we are creating, with less drinking water  and more  natural disasters , fewer seasons and  more climate refugees, seems more obvious to us to live than to seek a peaceful relationship with our environment. One does not come to terms so easily with the enemy. It is clear that our collective behavior vis-à-vis the environment, regardless of age or social class, takes the form of a confrontation. It will take more than the imminent and irreversible prospect of a global humanitarian crisis to bring these two gladiators together. We will not give up the fight. The Roman plebs can then howl their preference for one or the other. Nature or man, who will win?

Avé Nature, die salute

The fight then begins. But the question remains: what weapons should we give to each gladiator? Since man takes everything he can get his hands on ( chemical weapons , biological transformations,  flammable forests  and  warming emissions ), should we arm nature as well? “Personally, until I am forced to live otherwise, I will not do it on my own. First, because on my own, I don't see the impact I will have. And then, because I am not going to bother to live differently when others will not ”, defended a friend, attacked during a debate on ecology and the need to act individually. His argument held up. The debate then deviated its course. The conclusion has become crystal clear: obliging the protection of the planet through taxes, civil code (or even criminal law) and case law is essential. 

The debate then ignited. The legal status of nature will be broad and comprehensive. It will  protect rivers from pollution . It will  tax greenhouse gas emissions . It will  limit mass tourism . It will force a reduction in  purchases . It  will punish polluting companies . In short, he will arm nature to the teeth like a mirmillon. Finally the combat in the arena will be equal. Finally, neither of these two gladiators will be over-equipped compared to the other. 

Ultimately, we are neither the Thracian nor the Mirmillon. We are Romulus and Remus killing the foster wolf.

“I have always preferred cities to natural landscapes. In town, you see all kinds of people living. We are agitated there. Nature, on the other hand, distresses me. It is too grandiose, too imposing. It is only too much… this irrefutable proof of our insignificance ” , told me a friend, dreamy and confined, by exposing her tour of the imaginary world. 

What if, despite our best efforts, one of the two gladiators was actually at a disadvantage from the start? Even over-equipped, wouldn't the man be tackling stronger than him? After all, the planet has lived without us. It can, therefore, quite survive us. “I cannot believe everything that has been released to deal with the health crisis: money, initiatives, mobilization, etc. Okay, it's a matter of national security. But it must be understood: the ecological crisis is a matter of national security too. But nothing is done… ”,  my cousin told me, in her twenties already disillusioned. 

The bloodthirsty spectacle which delights Rome is rigged at the base. One of the fighters will die before the other. For man, this gladiator with an oversized ego, seems to be attacking the very balance that allows him to survive. It's no longer a fight, it's suicide. Giving a legal status to nature does not serve to protect the planet but to protect humanity. Ultimately, we are neither the Thracian nor the Mirmillon. We are Romulus and Remus killing the foster wolf.


The arena then empties. Rome is not amused by a rigged fight. The ancient bookmakers are ruined while the psychiatrists of the   Roman chearleaders make their fortunes. Civil security requires it:  nature must have a legal status . To the delight of the Roman senators, a new debate can then open: how should this status be considered? 

“They  reintroduced the wolf  to my house and that annoys me. For too long, dangerous wild animals have ceased to coexist with humans in France. No one knows how to behave in front of a wolf and vice versa. Since then, the shepherds have been reluctant to put their sheep to pasture in the mountains. Obviously, there have already been 'accidents'. For my part, now, I no longer dare to walk alone in the mountains. Yet I love it! In the name of ecology, they set up initiatives without asking our opinion or even taking into account the consequences on our lives, ”  my aunt told me, a mountain dweller to her fingertips.

Suddenly, at 64, she has to make a choice that she would never have imagined: freedom or ecology.

She who, however, has always made individual choices according to her ecological principles, who has always rebelled against the lack of consideration of nature in our society, finds herself lost in the face of an ecology which deprives her of her freedom. Suddenly, at 64, she has to make a choice that she would never have imagined: freedom or ecology. The protection of nature may one day be included in the preamble of the French Constitution,  as proposed by the Citizens' Convention for the Climate, provided that a referendum on the subject takes place as promised. Maybe my aunt will be happy. In any case, choosing between freedom and ecology seems to be the new question crossing our time. We saw the monarchists against the republicans, then the right against the left. What if the time had come for liberticidal environmentalists in the face of polluting libertarians? 

"I gladly accept that my freedom to buy anything is taken away from me, but I have to be offered something in return",  replied a friend, while I clumsily tried to him. explain the purpose of this article. His punchline then resonates in my mind. It crystallizes in my neurons the central question of the debate which separates our polluting libertarians from our liberticidal environmentalists: can we consider as an individual freedom the fact of being able to consume everything and its opposite? 

The former would certainly answer in the affirmative. They would thus propose a vision of freedom that would replace that of spending our hard-earned money as we see fit. Is it about occupying our time as we wish? Should we redefine more flexible work, more efficient than face-to-face, less “  9 to 5”  as Dolly Parton sang, to compensate for liberating overconsumption?

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The latter, on the other hand, would answer in the negative. They might tell us that for too long we have confused liberalism with freedom. It is true that the first, economic theory, cannot replace the second, a major philosophical concept. Thus, their new philosophy, by calling for a redefinition of consumption, would certainly create a redistribution of time. 

If we imagine, for example, a carbon quota per individual, we would have to travel less often to the other side of the world. In return, we should be able to leave for longer. In both teams, legally protecting nature would become the norm. In both camps, our vision of work would be central in the new political debate. In both cases, everything suggests that we need to define “neoliberalism” in order to respond to the  problems of neoliberalism .

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Avatar for JeremySagnes
3 years ago
Topics: Nature