Anthropocentric?

Nice word, huh?

It’s not a word that shows up in ordinary conversation when you order your Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino at Starbucks or while you pack your kids’ school lunch.

It means “You, human being, are the center of the universe, the most important element in all existence. Everybody and everything else simply isn’t. And that goes for God, nature and animals, too.

So, don’t be that. It’s not polite. But the bad news for today, almost every day, is that we are exactly that… just about all the time.

We judge things by human standards. We call a bad storm angry or a happy, smiling meadow full of flowers inviting, as if they all had human feelings. And we say eagles and birds of prey are angry-looking just because if our faces, our eyes and mouths, looked like theirs, we’d have to be angry to look like that. And of course they must be angry to pounce on a helpless bunny and tear it to bleeding shreds the way they do, right?

On the other hand, sometimes we call animals tame or even civilized when they behave nicely according to our human standards, as in house broken.

Actually, whether it’s tornadoes or eagles or poppy fields, they are simply doing what they do. They are wearing their ordinary, everyday going-to-work clothes. They have few if any emotions exactly like ours.

And our point at the Jamestown Gazette this week is an invitation to get over it. Get back to nature and try to see it for what it really is, not what we can imagine it might be compared to us.

Wild animals are actually merely natural animals, doing what animals do to live and breathe and reproduce… and whatever else they do when we are not looking and comparing them to us. Even branding some wild creatures as ugly or stately, beautiful or unruly, is simply another way to miss actually seeing them.

But maybe Wild can be an OK word if it at least reminds us that we are seeing something that is “not us”, something different, something that can stand on its own and live by its own nature.

The Wild America Nature Festival at Panama Rocks that Mallery tells us about on page 1 this week is a wonderful opportunity to leave your anthropocentric self back at home for a while and experience nature for its own self.

Even the massive rocks that have been standing in the forest for eons at Panama Rocks, since at least the last ice age, have been called stately and dignified by many while some others have called them threatening or brooding, very human qualities they might share with thunder clouds. In fact, they are truly massive, mossy artifacts of nature’s endless action, and worth experiencing for that alone.

I’m not trying to kill the romance and beauty of the world around us, just hoping to offer another set of eyes to take along to the Nature Festival with you, hoping to add another facet to the beauty you simply won’t be able to help experiencing there.

You and I, after all, are not the center of the universe… Go see our little bit of it with a little humility in your back pocket and you’ll be amazed how much more you will see.

Don’t be so anthropocentric… but since you are looking at your Jamestown Gazette just now, please do enjoy the read, we are reader-centric.

Walt Pickut