Friday, April 3, 2009


During class when we discussed "The Ledge" and tragedy, I was thinking a lot about untimely death being considered tragedy to humans, but when it happens in the animal world, although it is generally viewed as sad, it's "nature." In the plains episode of Planet Earth, a young caribou is stalked, killed, and eaten by 2 wolves. Now, although this scene evokes a lot of emotion, particularly because it is a cute young little animal being viciously torn apart, it is still nature. It's all a part of an ecological interaction. Also take into consideration natural selection. If you're not strong enough, you're dead. However brutal it may seem, it is a well accepted part of science, biology, and life in the animal kingdom. Animals may die when they are young or before "their time" when they are eaten or subject to some natural disaster that kills them. But again, this is all what we view as part of nature. When the tables are turned on humans, though, and a person dies young or in some sort of accident, we view it as tragedy, not nature. The fisherman and the young boys died an untimely death in part because of the harsh environment they were in, and their death was classified as a tragety. What then, makes that any different than something like an animal dying in a flash flood? The way we view "tragedy" and our "oh well, that's just nature" attitude towards the untimely deaths of people and animals just shows another way of how human society separates itself from nature.

1 comment:

Jon said...

No one is denying that humans are separated from nature and yes it is the root of your problem. The difference is that man has evolved to be 'rational'. To put this notion to your examples the caribou getting killed is sad... man was once too stalked by wolves but developed weapons to defend himself. When his weapons then fail him, it is a tragedy because he has the potential to adapt to the situation but fails to do so. Same with the flash flood example. If a rabbit drowns in a flash flood it is sad but the animal didn't know it was coming or have the skills to react to it. If a man drowns in a flash flood (or like in the Ledge) it is 'tragic' because he has invented boats and means of attracting attention to his distress (flares, guns, etc.) to prevent this. The Ledge itself is tragic and not 'just nature' because man's reason has allowed him extraordinary survival skills which we individually hope don't fail us but know they might