“You, know,” said a voice from the back of the classroom, “They used to call people like you heretics and burn them at the stake.”
I’d like to say I replied with rapier wit, a flawless verbal backhand that sent the speaker crawling into the shadows, tail between his legs, but all I remember was giving him a black stare before I returned to my seat. My Religious Studies professor made a brief reiteration of the rules of conduct in her class and quickly moved on. We’d been discussing the existence of good and evil and why the deities of most religions would allow evil to exist. What I said was: “Good and evil cannot exist without the one another.Taoism and Confucianism use the familiar Yin-Yang symbol to represent this interdependence (eg: shadows can’t exist without light) and the natural world similarly strives for balance, so, perhaps both good and evil are part of The Divine.” That’s when the wheels came off the wagon.
I’ll be the first to admit it would be easier if life could be neatly divided into categories as clear-cut as good and evil, but anyone who takes on a relationship with The Wild soon discovers those distinctions don’t exist – at least not in the natural world. Deer and elk would overpopulate and starve to death without the wolf, so is the wolf evil for eating the beautiful deer or is he good for reducing the suffering of many by eating the weak members of the herd? Earthquakes are horrendous disasters, but without them pressure under the earth’s crust would reach critical mass and the planet would explode, so into which category do earthquakes fall?
The mantra of The Wild is balance. The goal is the survival of the planet, not meeting the emotional needs of each individual being who is part of Her. It may seem cold, even uncaring, but how else could our planet continue to exist? The Earth and her creatures would quickly die if She picked favorites rather than caring for the planet as a single, living organism. Humans are the same: We don’t agonize over the well-being of each and every cell, but strive to take care of our body as a whole.
So how do we go on with the knowledge that good and evil exist in one divine being? We live with a broader perspective. We quit dividing the world into black and white based on what we think we know. We accept the rain that disrupts our vacation and the rejoice in the sun that melts the snow. We embrace each other when storms rage high and we rejoice when the wind is in our favor. We grieve at the death of the innocent and celebrate the predator’s awesome strength. We walk in the shadows, because we know that soon we’ll come into the light.
Photo: Into the Light – Julie Atkinson
Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 – f/5.6 – 1/1600 – ISO 160