Beneficial birds have suffered from human ignorance, as was the case in Orwell's time, but I really want to split the hair between ignorance and arrogance. In the 1940's, the English killed off many agriculturally useful birds of prey because they ate the eggs and chicks of the non-indigenous pheasant, which served non-agricultural function. Talk about losing the forest in the trees.
Each natural creature and plant are part of the ecosystem, with hiccups created when man gets involved. Loosely, a 'hiccup' is a hindrance, nuisance, or inessential entity. One could even say disease has a function, in that it eliminates the weak, allowing the strong consume more resources and proliferate more widely. Nature takes care of itself, in that it balances its own properties over time. (When I say "its own" it sounds possessive, but the natural beings are more so ingredients in a great recipe rather than gifts purposed for a specific utility.) When you remove religion from the picture--not simply as a theoretical riddle, but to bypass the fluff--the picture itself becomes vast, harsh, and mysterious. And that's okay, because humans are built for relatively simple reasoning and time-assessment, rather than with the inborn ability to completely understand the natural sphere. That's not to say ignorance is an inevitable excuse, it's to say that we're a part of something larger; just another small ingredient swirling around the giant cauldron that doesn't care about us specifically. When humans reach extinction--as all species do--the Earth will keep spinning just as it has in the past. That's okay, not because I say so, but because we're not inherently "better" than dirt or trees or fungus.
Even though we humans are natural, our decisions disrupt this natural ecosystem, which is why we can--and do--act unnaturally. No, we're not fulfilling our destiny or purpose through doing unnatural things like damming streams, polluting the ozone layer, and hunting species to extinction, because the very terms "destiny" and "purpose" are derivatives of Messianic, monotheistic religions. They encourage and enable us to change this natural ecosystem in our favor, exploiting the immediate benefits while smugly shrugging our shoulders when acid rain scores the earth's surface, toxic waste is pumped into the sea, and dogs are bred to fight and die for our entertainment. The world's your oyster! Jesus died to save you! Destructive rubbish.
Bees and birds pollinate flowers, and some plants evolve deliciously so predators eat them, dispersing their seeds via fecal matter. What better way to guarantee seed migration than to pass through a quadruped's gut? The ecosystem is delicate in that it can be affected quite easily by small changes in weather, population, and disease, however it's also harsh and hardy, eventually adapting to the conditions at hand. The Earth is literally a giant petri dish, swirling and mixing and dying and being reborn, causing humans and our opposable thumbs and pre-frontal cortexes to dismiss negative effects as irrelevant. To think like a human, simply destroy a few things, then look at all the things you didn't destroy, then talk about protecting tradition. Civilization has scored the Earth's surface, but after we're gone, nature will heal itself. We're a gnat the Earth can't swat off it's neck quite yet.
This brings me back to the "useless" English pheasants. Do we have any more of a use? They flew in, consumed resources, then caused actually useful birds to be hunted as well. Humans evolved, hunted-and-gathered, then became sedentary and created more complex self-serving technology and belief systems. We've developed more ways to tax the ecosystem the longer we've been around, and actually given ourselves medals of distinction.
So if we're the pheasant, what natural entity are we marginalizing and aiding the destruction? How about trees? Humans love cutting down trees, and I believe it's due to the neuroses created through our narcissist-flavored sedentary lifestyle. This neurosis blinds us to trees gobbling up our waste and producing our food, which in any other arena or discipline would grant them legendary status. Instead we see them as placeholders for our compounds, parking lots, and corporations. Felling trees can fall in alignment with nature, but only if the priority is the proliferation of nature, via dropping more diseased ones already in death's grip.
Natural awareness and respect is a process, and certainly one I'm not expert in, however humans can so easily point out "hiccups" in their immediate environment--like mosquitoes, ticks, and rabies--that we bypass how we ourselves may be functioning as a hiccup. That's our arrogance right there, which far supersedes our ignorance.
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