It's OK to be Human
When I was asked the other day about Paganism, the lady asking jumped immediately from "reverence of Nature" (as one definition or form of Paganism that she had heard of) to the idea that humans are "bad". That is, inherently prone to "sin" through attempting to "dominate" everything (and everyone) around them. And she felt intrigued by a "religion" that understood that humans were simply bad-at least in relation to the rest of the earth. Now, I feel we are either a part of Nature and due the full reverence that that entails, at least as much as a baby seal or rare tree, or we are a "separate" creation and need explaining. I think that the "humans are a cancer" theory is both thin and bizarre.
When I said that I thought humans were the only species to attempt to "fix" our own messes, even attempting to fix other things (such as natural disasters and depredations committed by other animals), even sometimes purely for the benefit of other species, she seemed struck and said she'd never heard that before. Indeed, it would be strange behaviour for a cancer, wouldn't it? As strange as for her, as a member of the cancerous group, to be concerned about the health of the host. And she was clearly a young woman who was concerned about the health of the planet, and wanted humans to be acting in an ethical manner towards other species. She was aware, as well, that there are organized groups of humans who profess to be addressing these issues.
Now, this is very strange. After all, she probably thinks that many of these groups out there are doing good things for the earth. So what is it that keeps her from realizing that humans are not some evil dwelling on the earth? I fear that many people have constructed a form of monotheism with the Earth and all other beings on it as the God, and humans as the fallen creatures who must continually perform penance in order to hope for a right relation with this God. This is not Paganism.
The Gods did not create us as anything else but humans, and have almost always presented themselves to us as human-like. We are not enjoined to act more tree-like or bird-like, or like any other animal, as a rule. These images are sometimes used to convey a certain attribute or ability taken out of context-but the goal is not to be a tree or bird, but to be a better human, to be more fully human. Yes, we have been granted great powers vis-à-vis the other life on this planet-and the Gods surely know this and set it up this way for a reason. We are to learn to exercise our power wisely-but that does not mean pretending that humans don't exist or that we should not have an impact on the earth. Everything alive has an impact.
It is time for more people to remember that the Gods created us the way we are. We did not accidently appear to wreak havoc on an innocent world. Whether the world was made for us, or we were made for the world, or something in between, we are made to go together and fit perfectly. There are reasons that we have the far reaching abilities that we do. There are reasons that we are capable of empathising with animals (and many of us even try to empathise with trees and plants--no wonder fairies are willing to like us). This is not the attitude of an out of control plague on the Earth. Yes, humans have had some devastating impacts on local ecosystems at times-so have beavers. So have many, many other species. It can be hard to even know what impact something is going to have. Sometimes our efforts to "help" have been as devastating as any thoughtless action could have been. But think, we do not expect any other species to have no effect on their eco system. When things get out of kilter, we don't tend to demonize the (apparently) responsible party. We just try to figure out why it happened.
Humans are a unique and powerful force. We need to stop loading collective guilt on our shoulders, particularly the guilt of simply being human and existing.
©2007 Oak Hedge