Nature is a dirty word

Nature is a dirty word

I have been contemplating the question “What is nature?” lately. To me, this invites a mystery and an opening into my continual failure to find the dividing line between me and nature, between man and nature.

How comical then, that a dictionary definition for nature is:

  1. 1.
    the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations


The very assumption of separation between man and nature is embedded into the word! Nature is always something “out there”, maybe in the woods, at the farm or on TV. Protecting nature is important, sure, but surely we should be looking after ourselves first…?

All of this only makes sense from the point of view that we are separated from the natural world “out there”. Yet every breath, every morsel of food, every drop of water, every bit of warmth and energy that we receive is nature. And so are we.

So maybe nature is too dirty a word to communicate the truth. Or maybe it needs some tender loving care to wake us from our nonsensical views, so we can live as part of the community of life.

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