Excerpt: 'The View From Lazy Point' by Carl Safina


From The New York Times:

I slide a fishing rod into my kayak as birds begin gathering over our bay. They know what’s coming. So do I. On many summer afternoons, packs of surfacing Bluefish chase up small fish, drawing excited flocks of diving terns. The terns carry those little fish a few miles to hungry youngsters waiting eagerly on small, unpeopled islands. As it has been for millennia, so it is this very moment.

Having long studied — and sautéed — this aspect of our neighborhood both formally and at leisure, applying both statistical models and garlic as appropriate, I can report that this relationship — prey fish, terns, Bluefish, and me — shows scant sign of failing anytime soon.

The future is by no means doomed. I’m continually struck by how much beauty and vitality the world still holds.

But beauty and vitality isn’t the whole story either. In the panic among the fishes and in the frenzying terns, it’s also evident that nature has neither sentiment nor mercy. What it does have is life, truth, and logic. And it strives for what it cannot have: an end to danger, an assurance of longevity, a moment’s peace, and a comfortable death. It’s like us all, because we are natural. What anyone needs to know about mercy, one can learn by watching nature strive, seeing people struggle, and realizing what a compassionate mind could add to the picture. So I’m also struck that we who have named ourselves “wise humans” — Homo sapiens — haven’t quite realized that nature, civilization, peace, and human dignity are all facets of the same gemstone, and that abrasion of one tarnishes the whole.

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