University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
In modern day, man does not truly think about how much the earth means to life. On the contrary, humans aspire to cease Mother Nature’s beauty with the replacement of modern day cities made up of synthetic nature. Since the dawn of the twentieth century, a major theme in the American Arts has been the protest against man’s destruction of the natural world. With this in mind, as very well argued in Chief Seattle’s article “Respect”, humans fail to be conscious of the physical and sentimental value of Mother Nature.
Humans forget that the land they walk on lays their great great grandfather. Due to this, the earth is sacred and shouldn’t be taken for granted. The earth is left in more and more destruction to the natural state left for the next generation. “The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father” (Seattle 34-35). Man fails to teach their children to appreciate the air that their grandfather once breathed from and the land in which their great grandfather once walked on, the land he is now buried in.
It’s hard to imagine the earth still in one piece without the devoted affection and veneration the earth waits to receive. Chief Seattle asks “If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of water, how can you buy them” (Seattle 2-4)? How does man dare to claim a piece of land as his own and attempt to receive profit from it? On the contrary, man should be paying the land for its unconditionally loyal services Man should be paying respect above all to the land that treats him so well, to the land that previously treated his ancestors so well.
Why doesn’t man appreciate the earth? God created earth and it is sacred and precious to him “The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors” (Seattle 28-30). Nature should never be overlooked, for it’s the reason that man has a home filled with furniture hand crafted by their ancestors. Man’s ancestors did not work hard nurturing nature and assuring its pureness only to find that the following generations will belittle the earth in such an inconsiderate manner.
Furthermore, as man proves to show, man takes what they want from nature and without any remorse towards the consequences of affecting the earth. As portrayed by the speaker in the poem “Story”, the family uses nature to provide a home for themselves, furniture for their daily uses, but when they have ended the use of their resources, they pack up and leave. Without regard to nature, they left their home as trash. “…Perhaps a big iron one with a fat black pipe that vanishes into the ceiling to reach the sky and exhale its smalls and collusions” (Levine).
Man is contaminating the pure air so that man could have luxury of a big iron stove or a powerful engine car. Man fails to realize that the earth will one day be so altered and destroyed that there will no longer be an “earth”. It’ll be polluted air made up of smoke, exhausted fumes and dirt. It’ll be junks of metal and paper and rubber piled on top of one another all above a big old rock. “Yet all we see are houses, rows and rows of houses as far as sight…” (Levine). For survival, man requires shelter and in order to acquire shelter, man must deforest the woods.
Soon after creating a shelter, food is also essential for survival, in which now man feels the obligation to build farms. With this in motion, human population seems to begin to grow increasingly. And with the growth of the human population comes the much sooner death of the earth. For, where there is man, there ceases to be life. Moreover, man fails to see the beauty in nature, as portrayed in Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” The moth in the story was described as harmless throughout the beginning of the story when the children were comfortably taking turns playing with it.
In the beginning of the story, the children portray the moth as harmless, and the accept it, but as the story continues, the teacher makes the kids feel the need to guard themselves from the moth which then begin to perceive as a monster. “He was a monster in a mason jar” (Dillard 33). This proves to show how man can misinterpret nature as ugly, threatening, hideous, and even dangerous. The moth, in this story evolves into a beautiful Polyphemus. Polyphemus moths have multiple eyes and is of the most beautiful nature in which, man sees as revolting. Polyphemus moths are neither revolting nor are they dangerous.
Someone had given the Polyphemus moth his freedom, and he was walking away” Dillard 41). As the moth had been held as a prisoner in a jar as entertainment for humans, it lost its sense of being. Its ability to wave its wings had expired after being in the jar damaged its wings. And in that moment, the narrator had realized the moth was alive to merely survive. “I don’t remember anything but that thing’s struggle to be a moth or die trying” (Dillard 25). This quote is the most powerful line in the passage. It illustrates the point of man’s true destruction towards nature and what nature’s consequences are due to man’s actions.
In the decision of conning the moth by holding it hostage in a mason jar, man gives up the moth’s right of a true natural development. Forever altering the life of the moth after having passed it around the class numerous times, the moth presently has no ability in wavering its wings. Last but not least, man goes through the constant cycle of construction, destruction and reconstruction. This repeated cycle has gone on since the beginning of man. In this painting, on one side, man is attempting to reconstruct their civilization by building brick by brick in order to successfully reconstruct their home.
As for the other side of the painting, buried in destruction and burning flames, man attempts to pick up the pieces of their once before existing civilization. Man’s ultimate task is to reproduce but without a civilization, reproduction cannot occur. Although man goes through war constantly, the routine life picks up, back on track once everything is reconstructed, as depicted in the painting. To connect everything together, man is nothing without earth yet vice versa. Man cannot survive if deprived of the crucial resources that the earth so willingly provides.
Yet, man denies that the earth is the essential reason for their survival and remains stubborn for the fact that they are apparently independent. Man should treat the earth with gentleness and respect not only because of the generosity of the earth but because of the sentimental value that the earth holds. The earth is a stable foundation for all generations to come and generations who have passed. Similarly, the earth is just like hang me down clothes. The more you disregard taking care of it the less it is helpful to the next person who uses it, thus ultimately becoming insufficient and useless.