Saturday, July 18, 2015

It's All Natural! Except for us.

Just a second ago, on television, there was an advertisement for a dog food that was "natural".  It had no "chicken byproducts".

I wasn't aware that chickens were, ispo facto, unnatural, although I'll concede that they are a rather weird bird, but that's besides the point.  What's so fascinating is that we live in an era, and one that stretches back quite a few decades now, that's obsessed with the natural, even while we ourselves don't apply the same logic to ourselves.  It's really odd.  Either we like nature and accept it, or we don't. You can't really have cafeteria naturalism.

Evidence on our obsession with what's natural is everywhere, and frankly, I'm not criticizing it.  There's is indeed a lot of reason to be focused on the natural. We ourselves are part of nature, and there's better and better evidence that the more we depart from nature, the worst off we are (even as we strive to continue to create a very unnatural world). 

So eating a more natural diet makes a great deal of sense, and we know what the loose parameters of a natural diet are (and it isn't, by the way, vegan or vegetarian, which are highly unnatural diets for people who are uncomfortable with nature).  And getting out in nature, we know, is not only a good idea, it might actually be necessarily for our well being.

 A fellow with an actually natural diet.

So we've developed a lot of "natural foods". Some people have become "locavores", eating only what they can acquire locally, and thereby bypassing the unnatural food distribution system.  "Grass fed" beef is in, and I'm down with that, as I've been eating grass fed beef (and antelope, and deer, etc.) for decades.  Quite a few people insist their clothes be "natural", which means not a petroleum byproduct.  People buy vegetables that are "organic", by which they mean free of unnatural chemical exposure.

The Amish must be looking around thinking; "Ach, was ist das?"

 Amish, who live pretty natural, although that's not usually what non Amish backers of "natural" mean by natural.

Some of us, many of us now, join one or more organizations devoted to natural causes.  The Sierra Club, Ducks Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Initiative, are just a few.  Radicals look towards Green Peace or the Earth Justice League.

But we omit nature from ourselves. That is, our own selves. And the more radically natural we are, the more likely we are to do that. Why is that?

What do I mean?

Well, the most natural thing a person encounters every day is themselves.  No matter how unnatural of environment you live in, you are natural.

For most of us, that probably doesn't impact us in any particular way, but we should consider this.  We are, no matter how a person conceives of it, as certain type of animal.  We may be, and I'd argue we are, a very special animal with an immortal soul, but nonetheless, we're an animal.  More particularly, we're a mammal, and a primate, with very special attributes.

And those attributes are governed to a fairly large extent by our DNA. That is, our genes determine much of what we are.

This has been, of course, argued about for decades.  Is it nature or nurture that determines our personalities, etc.  Both, no doubt. But that our genetic makeup determines much of what we are in some very fundamental ways cannot be doubted.  Included amongst these are our genders, and what that means.

That's a hugely unpopular readily right now, in certain quarters, but it's a reality nonetheless.  There are no "men trapped insides of women's bodies", or vice versa. There are men, and women.  That's biology.

That doesn't mean that some women and some men, in fairly low statistical numbers, don't have inclinations that are contrary to their genetic makeup in terms of gender in varying degrees that cause them to think they want to be the other.  It may very well be the case that they do.  And that doesn't make them inhuman, nor should it subject them to abuse. But it also should be required that such inclinations are part of their natural animal nature.  Pretending that they are is going against nature.  And at the point where society is providing people with "therapies" to achieve a gender transformation (to the extent that can actually occur), it's doing something deeply unnatural.  If it requires chemistry or surgery to achieve (and maintain), it isn't natural.

Indeed, we know that human beings are afflicted in varying numbers with all sorts of unnatural inclinations and impulses, some harmless, and some not.  For example, some people actually seek surgery to remove a limb, seized by the belief, somehow, that they'd be happier without it.  This is a self detructive belief, and unnatural, but they have it.

Of course, it could be argued that medicine itself is unnatural, and some do, but I don't think that's really the case.  Human desires to cure maladies are a human trait, and demonstrably go back to ancient times, indeed far back into our ancient origins.  Ancient humans with knit bones demonstrate that we were setting breaks as far back as we've existed, and occasionally an ancient skeleton will show up with evidence at an attempt for fairly exotic surgery.  That people can develop, and synthesize, medicines is not unnatural.

But it does lead to some oddities in this area.  One is that there's a big business in for "natural remedies". These are all sorts of herbs and whatever that are supposedly natural.  Near my work there's a store that sells such things and some of the impacts of them that are claimed are simply amazing.  One recently claimed to do something at the "cellular" level.  I hope not, that would be scary indeed.  The point here however, is that people will buy something that's only barely less natural than the stuff they're trying to avoid at the doctor's office or the pharmacy.  Lots of medicines are, actually, fairly natural. 

Not all are in impact, however.  That's an interesting thing to.  Modern westerners (Americans and Europeans) spend a lot of money on pharmaceuticals that are designed to frustrate a certain natural cycle.  That's interesting, as that's a medicine that's actually anti-natural.  It's weird to think that there are, undoubtedly, women who eat all natural foods, wear organic cotton, maybe go the "natural remedies store", but take an anti natural pharmaceutical.  Indeed, I have to suspect that the fact such pharmaceuticals are so widely accepted now is that they were introduced in the early 1960s, when there was a huge admiration for anything chemical or medical and people didn't worry much about the impact of anything of that type.  It took Silent Spring and DDT to take us there.

In another area, we've written a lot recently about the "natural law".  Now some would maintain that there's no such thing as a natural law, but the best evidence would certainly be contrary to that. As Chief Justice John Marshall noted in The Antelope, the state can and does create statutes that contravene or stand opposed to the natural law.  But we seem not to even note that, which is interesting.

One of the big ones we live with every day is the institution of the "corporation".  Corporations are legal creatures of the state, and basically they evolve out of the partnership.  Partnerships do comport with nature, ad people combining to act in concert with partners is clearly a natural human activity. But corporations are deemed by law to be "persons" before the law.  I'm not saying that's good, or bad, but it is rather weird, and clearly not natural.

The fact that we've built such big cities that are seperated from nature is unnatural.  Indeed, this entire era in which we are so concerned about living naturally would have had a hard time coming about if this wasn't the case, as people who live more closely to nature, aren't cognizant of that in the same way or to the same extent.  That is not to say that they aren't aware of it, just differently.

It's also not to say that towns and villages aren't natural. They are, and have existed since time immemorial.  But super huge cites, such as we have now, that can only exist with the technological advances we have now, aren't really natural.  They have existed for quite some time, but that doesn't make them natural really.  And certainly the modern cubicle life isn't natural.  Indeed the separation from nature that the city life creates is one of the sources of modern depression and potentially the cause of much that we see in human stress and oddity.

So the point?

To offend everyone in the western world?

No, this is simply one of those observational posts.   I'm afflicted with an analytical mind, by nature, and therefore I'll take an analytical thread where it goes.  And this one amuses me.  We live in an era when people can be really aggressive about being "natural".  But we live in a very unnatural society.  I think it ought to be more natural, truly I do.  But in making that observation, I'm well aware that a lot of the people stomping their feet about being "natural", are hugely unnatural.  A person can be, I suppose, selectively natural.  But you have to be aware of that.  Wearing Birkenstocks while eating a free range yogurt vegan diet makes you anti natural, not natural.  And if you choose going natural, and demand that we go natural as far as possible, you have to separate your politics from your nature, and go where that leads you.  Otherwise, what you have to do is to admit that you feel that accommodations against nature should be made, which is fine, but you should admit that you're doing it so that you are clear and honest about what you are doing, at least to yourself.

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