Friday, September 17, 2010

All Natural?

Once I was given a list,  "Natural Highs."  Things you might expect were on it, like chocolate, hugs, dogs . . . rollercoasters.

Metal cars careening on tracks are more natural than, say, fermented fruit? 

I'm still puzzled by this, years later.  It seems fine if your high is built, manufactured, cooked or otherwise tweedled by humans, as long as it's not crack.  It's OK to be fermented, distilled, and/or packaged, as long as you don't induce more than inocuous pleasure or moderate productivity.  And it's "safe" to alter your biochemistry/psyche with sound, light, people and even plants, unless they're on a Federal Schedule. 

Then it's unnatural.

What about running from a rabid dog?  That's pretty natural.

It should be so obvious as to not need saying, but natural does not equate with safe, nor does unnatural automatically imply unsafe.   And, what are we talking about, anyway?  Is unnatural simply a synonym for manmade?   If so, cross rollercoasters, chocolate, and hugs off the list!

If naturalness were really what lists like "Natural Highs" were about, it wouldn't be a list of purported "safe highs."  But what else could it be?  Can we put every high not made by people on it?  And ultimately, can people, as products of Nature, using raw materials from Nature, make anything that isn't natural? 

Unnatural connotes frightening, and in everyday speech it seems to refer to such.  Homsexuality is frequently termed "unnatural", but not because it actually is -- some animals are "gay."  The fact is, sexual relations with a person of the same gender just scares a lot of people.  And consider the fear surrounding "synthetic" objects.

I'm not sure the word "unnatural" has any meaning outside it's application to individuals -- when we say something is not in one's nature -- because the nature of Nature, well, encompasses all natures, doesn't it?  If you believe that God, angels, demons, and so forth exist extra-naturally, then unnatural has a meaning for you that it doesn't for me.  What you speak of is outside my conscious frame of reference, and I have yet to be convinced from the "outside"  that anything called "spiritual" is supernatural.

I would like to know something "above" the morally-dualized spectacle of Nature, but I don't see how, and that alone will be cause for questions if I meet the Eternal.  In the meantime, let's disentangle our categories.  Debates on homosexuality, food and drugs, religion . . . all of this is saturated with the intermingling of safety, naturalness, and morality, and the abuse of language is as annoying as those who exploit it, covering titanic fears of unseen forces.

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