The Grip of the Pervasive Predator
by Stephen Longfellow Fiske
In the wild, there is a balance of relationships between the predator and the prey. Recently, in Yellowstone National Park for example, after the wolves had been eradicated, there was much ecological fallout resulting in the size of herds of deer and other grazing species greatly increasing. Because there were greatly reduced predators, the deer and elk were able to graze without fear, destroying foliage vital to keeping soil along stream and river beds intact, thus creating damaging erosion. But when the wolves were reintroduced, the various grazing creatures could no longer feed with impunity, and the plants were able to grow and ecological balance was restored as the herds also thinned out. Thus, the balance of the predator and the prey in nature is an essential part of the ecological health which impacts the health of all life on the planet.
Human beings, however, are not born with fangs and claws and gnashing teeth designed to grab and crush raw flesh, bones, sinew and muscle, as well as digestive systems designed to handle such intake. The predator in the wild has no choice but to be a predator and is irreversibly created as such. We human beings have free will and the power of choice; we can rise above the law of the jungle. Having spent, however, a dominant part of our developmental existence as a species derived from the jungle, we have been encoded and have modeled ourselves along the laws of the jungle, and remain in the behavioral grip of the pervasive predator. In order to survive we had to protect ourselves against the ravages of nature and become protectors of territory. To support the expansion of territory in the quest for additional resources, we retained this predator grip which reflects itself in every aspect of our planetary life to this day .
We continue to fall prey to the primal assumption that our basic survival is based on the predator model.
In the capitalist system, the corporate marketeers prey upon the consumer and push products to serve the bottom line of profit and expansion, often running rampant over the real needs of human beings for health, security, and long term well-being. The exploitation of the market place is projected through the media and establishes the consumer as prey. And we, as conspicuous consumers, become hypnotized by the marketing hype and continue to support the feeding frenzy year round, reaching peaks at Christmas and other holidays.
The rich get richer, control the economic resources, lobbying with seemingly limitless PAC dollars to exert power and influence over policy, while the struggling middle class falls prey and diminishes, and the homeless haunt our streets.
In terms of the environment, we have exploited and ravaged the earth to serve our appetite for resources and dominion over nature. We are the most dangerous predators on the planet. The fossil fuel based economy is unsustainable and the resulting damages to the environment leading to global warming, climate change, species extinction and other toxic and pollutant consequences, has created a questionable future for the very continuance of life on this planet.
We create genocide against multiple animal species, dragging them through the factory farm system with horrible cruelty, perpetuating violence in the world, while dining on the neatly packaged body parts with impunity, at the same time causing disastrous ecological and health damage to ourselves and the planet.
In terms of militarization, we have been addicted to war-making as a means of conquering, controlling, exploiting, oppressing, and building empire by dominating, interfering and destroying other existing cultures and peoples to satisfy our self interests. The imperialist empire-builders are the predators, waging continuous war, squandering valuable resources of human ingenuity and unthinkable amounts of money, shattering the peaceful development of the human species and all life on our planet.
The patriarchal dominance throughout history and the subjugation of women by the testosterone-driven male species has men as predators and women as prey. Rape is the predator’s conquest. The system of patriarchal hierarchy breeds the objectification of women and is exemplified in the economic, educational and opportunity inequities between men and woman on a global scale.
The predatory plantation mindset of the slave owner still exists in widespread human trafficking and the mistreatment of workers and the exploitation of slave labor to serve capitalistic goals, while white police officers murder unarmed blacks on the streets of our cities.
The pious self-rightiousness of religious ferver and radicalism brings the religious predators in direct competitive combat for the soul of humanity.
In personal and inter-personal relations, a predator relationship is always disastrous. Where one is trying to insist, demand, control, dominate, abuse, use, make-over, bully or boss another, it never works and always leads to major problems, raw edges, emotional reactivity, deep wounds, traumatic experiences. A successful relationship is always based on honesty, transparency, really listening to each other, respect, trust, sensitivity to needs, mutual support, accountability, and sincerely sharing and caring about each other. The predator is the antithesis of loving compatibility.
This predator consciousness permeates our history and plagues us today. We have reached a point in our evolution where we must choose a different way to be. We don’t need to have a world of predators and prey. We must rise above the jungle mentality. Human beings are not born as predators; we are not born as war-makers and haters prone to inevitable violence – this is learned behavior. We can re-think, reevaluate, reconstruct the way we live. We are born into the wonder of existence with an innate aversion for violence and an inborn moral repulsion for killing. We are born to grow into the fullness of life and to blossom in our creative endeavors to build a world that works for everyone. We have been given the gift of love, compassion and forgiveness. With that comes an inherent moral code that respects and cherishes life. When that moral code is shattered, we as human beings become shattered.
We are, as the Hopi word, Koyaanisqatsi, means “out of balance,” and it seems as if finding our way to balance is the most difficult task that human beings have to face. We must delete the predator. We must not fall prey to the Predator’s predilection. We must allow the jungle that is left on this planet to be what it is, and know that within the broader range of this fragile life system on our planet, we must rise above the jungle to a new level of development whereby we co-exist cooperatively with each other, with the remaining fellow species, and with the Earth.
In this new year, let us each take a good look at where it is that we are the predator and where it is that we are the prey, and seek to find a balance that restores the natural order of the universe, which in the Sanskrit is known as Dharma. It is our individual Dharma to live to our fulfilment and enlightenment, and our collective Dharma to serve each other and be stewards of the planet. May we liberate ourselves from the grip of the pervasive predator. May we see that we are all part of an integrated, interconnected whole, and that each of us is an integral participant, playing a vital role in the consequential unfolding of a positive and sustainable future for ourselves and our children’s children. Everyone counts.
My prayer for this new year is that we realize that life is a sacred gift and we are divine children born into a spiritual journey traveling through this physical vessel of a body on this wondrous Earth.
May peace prevail on Earth.