Have you ever seen a movie or TV show where someone dies and their loved ones figure out a way to bring them back, BUT not without a cost?! Dun dun dun! That cost usually throws off the balance of life, someone else has to die in their place, and a plethora of other horrendous exchanges happen that make the situation worse than when they started. This is how I view the world of pharmaceuticals, GMO’s, agriculture, animal testing, and pretty much everything else humans do to try and cheat nature out of its own plan.

We arrogantly strut through this world like nothing should or can touch us. We collectively seem to live by this mantra that “if it saves human lives, we have to do it” as if there are no repercussions for giving mother nature the finger when she lays down her law. When it comes to every other species in nature, we seem to have this grand understanding to let nature take its course; to not intervene even when it is difficult to watch because it is all part of a greater process. With other animals, it’s easier to use rational thought, as we don’t see the reflection of our faces in their eyes to remind us of our similarities. However, within our own species we either forget or ignore that same important logic, and seldom ask the question “just because we can, does it mean we should?”

Nature, God, the sparkly unicorn in the sky, whoever you believe is responsible for our world’s creation, created this world with a set of rules that were perfectly designed to promote a healthy ecosystem. An abundance of plant eaters to groom and garden our earth. Predators to keep the gardeners from over trimming, but also brilliantly designed to be territorial and/or aggressive towards their own kind to self-regulate their populations. Diseases that target groups of social creatures and take out the weak to trim back overgrown populations. Natural disasters that swiftly push species out of areas inhabitable for their kind and hit the restart button for stronger new life to begin. The weak die, the strong and the smart adapt and continue to thrive on.

Many people, probably even most people, would say humans are the smart ones that are thriving because we consistently push the laws of nature and live beyond our natural means. I would argue that although humans as individuals may be thriving, as a population we are sick and in the process of digging our own graves. Is it really a winning strategy to save the lives of those nature selected for death, so that billions can feel what it’s like to die of starvation, malnutrition, and the other kinds of lifelong suffering that the harsh realities of natural selection would usually protect us from? In every single way that humans have tried to cheat the system, there has been an opposite and equal reaction from nature reminding us that we indeed are not in charge here.

Currently, half of the human population is living in poverty and struggling to survive. That is more than 3 billion people who are starving to death and living lesser versions of the life they could have had if we didn’t trade their life for the one nature picked. Is it horrendously sad when some disease outbreak or disaster kills hundreds to thousands of people? Obviously. But it is a natural part of life that prevents every species from growing out of control so that the rest can flourish. Humans are not above this and pretending to be is only a delusion of control.

Humans have this mentality that we are better/more important than every other species on earth, forgetting that our success is only possible with the help of every other species on earth. It should come as no shock that we treat members of our own species with that same dominant/submissive relationship—much like the way other predators of our world regulate their population through aggressive acts towards their own kind. Martin Luther King Jr. said it beautifully when he stated “One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.”

The way we view domination over all species is the way we view domination over people from different countries, races, genders, religions, athletic teams, style choices, and so on. I personally can’t help but think this is a form of our own evolutionary fail-safe for population control. Humans seem doomed to be in a perpetual state of war with each other, as our inability to understand those who do not share our same reflection seems impossible for human-kind to overcome. And when do we very first learn these lessons? As children, when we learn that the animals we cannot talk to are fair game to treat as we please.

If we ever want to have a world with a healthy population of human beings, living with respect for one another, it starts by reframing the way we view every other species. It starts by teaching our children that they are not the most important beings on the planet, but instead an equally important part of a cohesive ecosystem full of many very different, but equally important, living things. By accepting that we are not the creators of this game called life, but merely players in it. And like all games when you cheat, there are consequences.

About the Author

Bridget is currently attending The University of Montana for wildlife biology and psychology, although she has informally studied animals her entire life. She has a passion for animal welfare and conservation, but believes the only way to really make an impact is through a better understanding of the human mind. Bridget was a competitive gymnast throughout her childhood and spent several years coaching after high school. If there is anything she loves as much as animals, it is empowering young women to live up to their greatest potential.