Nature is violent by nature

The most natural way to live is completely opposite what the naturalists tell us. For instance, the naturalists – or hippies or treehuggers or environmentalists or whatever you choose to call them – don’t eat meat. But is that really natural?

In a broader sense, is acting humane natural?

You’ve seen lions take down gazelles on the nature shows. They don’t kill them quickly to put them out of their misery. They gnaw on legs while the legs are still alive.

I remember watching crickets squirm as my pet praying mantis ate their stomachs out. Pretty sick stuff, but it’s natural.

That doesn’t take away my desire to try to live compassionately toward animals. I get it. Animals suffer. I don’t elevate their suffering to the level of human suffering, but I still know animals have feelings. Pain hurts, whether an animal can mentally process that pain or not.

On the other hand, though, I think it’s important to realize that compassion is not a natural instinct or a natural pursuit or a natural course in nature.

Sure, animals and humans might naturally feel empathetic toward others when nothing prevents that empathy. But when scarcity enters the picture, when animals and humans have to make decisions, like deciding to do something uncomfortable to reduce the pain for others, then empathy isn’t such a driving force in nature.

At that point, the driving force in nature becomes – or perhaps it’s always been – to do what works best in the moment for ourselves.