Even M*A*S*H finished its run

One of the most troublesome topics I encounter is the artificial continuation of a species, a language, a forest, or a Crayola color that has passed the threshold of usefulness to the continuation of the earth and its inhabitants.

We have all heard about the flock of rare birds that have been closely protected and now number in double digits, or of the obscure Indian language that only three people remember and no one is interested in learning so they can talk to their ancestors buried beneath the macadam of the Home Depot parking lot, or of a crayon color which is indistinguishable from at least three other crayon colors. (Crayola will always carry the shame of that light salmon stick called “Flesh”).

A few years ago I was touring in the American west and the guide made it clear that forest fires, predator animals, and animal poop are all vital to the health of the undeveloped range and were best seen as good things. Our guide had many interesting stories of how Man took over the management of the wild and made a complete mess of things, far worse than if they had just left it alone. He considered Smokey the Bear as an early terrorist who had brought great destruction to our country. Of course, there are tremendous outside pressures of the free, open parts of our country:  cattle ranchers insist on any animals capable of harming their herds being killed on sight for a healthy bounty; troublesome animals and plants being removed to less valuable lands so their traditional habitat can be stripped of all the wealth possible before it is returned to the wild;

New growth after the fire

The guide informed us, as we drove through the burned out sections of the forest and the hillsides full of dead and dying trees, that although the big forest fire had engulfed half of Yellowstone, there was still the other half left to enjoy. He also pointed out that the dry, dead trees were being killed by beetles that are normally controlled by forest fires, but Smokey the Bear has been so successful, the fires are down, the beetles are up, and the forest is dying just as fast as if Man had left it alone. He pointed out that regular fires open the forest and the glades become rich habitat for the animals:  moose, wapiti, bison, deer, etc. He also told us of the reintroduction of wolves into the park since it was discovered that the wolves were a vital part of the ecology, especially in controlling vermin (of course the wolves were earlier eliminated at the request of the ranchers that didn’t want them coming out of the protected forest to nosh on their sheep or beef).

The message was … the more we tried to control and protect the forest and its creatures, the worse it became. Perhaps there is a great spirit in nature that is knowledgeable and nurturing; of course, that suggests that Man is the evil spirit in this equation, at least the western man that came and took over for the indigenous people.

But now I read an article about preserving the native languages in America. I believe I read that the count was about 7,000 languages around the world and fifty in California alone. I wonder how many languages we have already lost? I am a great admirer of languages and the study of languages but I see a quandary here:  if the study of the language is a closed endeavor, then I say, “Why bother?” Language can expose the way a people thinks, the way they fit in with nature and the universe, how languages might develop, etc. but if one studies the language just to learn how to speak the language, assuming they can find another person that speaks the language, then I can see no good reason to worry about that language being lost (although it might make a good study to publish a book and have it gather dust on a shelf in the basement of the library). It makes sense to me that some languages will flourish and others will drift away. But since Man is making the decisions, I’m sure things will be a mess … can you imagine if the Texas Board of Education was tapped to decide which languages would survive and which would be eliminated?

This is probably my biggest evidence denying the existence of anything even remotely considered a supreme being:  Man is just as quick to take matters into his own hands whether he believes in a supernatural being controlling all of life or whether he doesn’t believe. In fact, the most vocal Christians in the United States are often the first to act in defiance of god’s way. If god is all powerful, then let go and let god. But the religious types can’t do this and that tells me that religion is purely a power grab in today’s world, made by man to control man.

So the odds are that staying out of the way, be it nature, god, or the Crayola company, is probably for the best. If Crayola wants to punish me for not worshipping their newest colors, so be it

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