It doesn’t seem fair that we humans should have to use a foot bridge to cross a river when a gull can just fly under the bridge or over it, but in either case it can easily cross the river without any help. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Birds are the masters of this world. What other creature can fly in the air, swim in the ocean, and walk on the land? What other creature is at home with all three of these elements--air, earth, and water?
Humankind has come a long way, to be sure. We have mastered land for certain. We can swim short distances and build boats that will take us long distances over water. That’s not mastery of the water, though, but cooperation because we still are not at home on the water. We cannot fly at all, although it has always been our dream to do so, but we can build machines that can fly and they can carry us through the air. Again, that’s not mastery of the air, but it is cooperation. We can’t do any of these things as effortlessly as birds do, or other animals depending on the element, but we are trying.
|The gull doesn't need this foot bridge.|
There is one thing that we can do that the birds cannot, or any other animal, for that matter. We can cooperate with fire, and the extent of our cooperation is intricate and tremendous. We may not be able to bring flame forth instantaneously, but we can just about do so. We can harness the energy of fire in a way that no other animal could ever hope to do, in a way that we could never have imagined just a few hundred years ago.
And because of this, we call ourselves masters of the world. We tell ourselves that the Earth is ours and we are her stewards. We plunder the planet in the name of privilege and call it our gift, our destiny, our right. All because of fire power and our ability to cooperate with it. The animals cannot do this, and therefore, we say that they are less than us.
What an awkward creature we are--landlubbers who believe we have conquered the sea and the air, our efforts clumsy and noisy, our attempts laborious and exhausting. We are landlubbers who dabble in fire, our game dangerous and destructive. But we are new, and we can blame our tomfoolery, our poor imitation of the creatures around us, on the infancy of our species. Perhaps in time we will acquire the grace and patience of the rest of the animals and the majesty of the birds.