2017-04-27 / Outdoors

Lessons from the ancients — and nature, too

For all the study and research that has been done on our past civilizations, you’d think people would have learned to make the world better for future generations. We should build on the past — realize that mistakes were made that we should not, as a species, repeat. There is a saying that there are too many mistakes and too little time for us to learn from our mistakes, so we should instead learn from the mistakes of others. If we don’t then … well, let’s take a lesson or two from the natural world.

Consider coyotes, which have learned to hunt in packs. When there’s an abundance of the critters they consider their food source — rabbits, squirrels, rodents, etc. — the feeding is easy, as is reproduction, and the pack multiplies. But let’s assume a disease hits the rabbit population (this has happened before) and kills off most of this food source for the coyote. Nature adjusts this imbalance by also reducing the coyote population through starvation. There is a constant balance needed to survive.

Ruins of the mysterious city of Machu Picchu, Peru. Ruins of the mysterious city of Machu Picchu, Peru. If you’ve ever heard an expression about rats deserting a sinking ship, it’s based on actual animal behavior. Rodents such as mice and rats will trample on and claw each other to preserve their individual lives — not the species — even if they all perish in the end. Sounds similar to the human race if you think about it, doesn’t it?

Businesses large and small try to get away — and sometimes succeed — with practices that negatively affect our environment. Look around you at the trappings of civilization you enjoy. One day all this, as we know it, will be gone. You say it won’t happen. I’m sure that’s what the Incas believed about their civilization. And the Aztecs, the Persians, the Chinese, the ancient Greeks. Certainly the Romans and the ancient Egyptians, the Indus Valley civilization and Mesopotamians. This last civilization existed around the time of 3300 B.C. This is the time when civilized society truly began to take shape.

So where are all these civilizations now? Gone. Some of the traditions and lore have remained through generations, but what happened to the people?

Nature has a way of surviving by adaptation. If we lost our food supply, could we — could you — find food to survive? Would you be able to feed your family, relatives, neighbors? Would you try to ensure the survival of others, or would you become like those drowning rats?

Let’s take a lesson from nature and live as nature intended. Take care of our environment, take care of our Earth, take care of each other. Let’s all learn from and enjoy our great outdoors.

Fair winds; calm seas. ¦

— Capt. Dennis Kirk has been traveling the Peace River since 1979. His life adventures are written from various chapters in his three decades of experience in Southwest Florida. He is part owner of the Nav-A-Gator, a riverfront restaurant and marina in Lake Suzy, just off Kings Highway. For more information, call 627- 3474.

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