We’re often told that nature is a kindly thing, a spiritual force that keeps the world in harmony, in balance and all that nice touchy-feely stuff.
The truth is that nature is a vicious beast. I remember thinking of this when I lived in the Tanzanian bush, listening to hyenas at my door and the sound of insects eating my house. There were odd slithering sounds from the far corner of the room most nights, and I had to be careful of the black mambas under the house, with that appalling combination of being incurably poisonous and incredibly fast. I dare not imagine what was living in the pit latrine, but it was alive and appeared to be malevolent.
Everything in nature is trying to kill and eat another part of nature.
This has been brought home to us as it was revealed that penguins are complete bastards. No wonder Mrs Merkel recently adopted one. It’ll probably be heading the ECB in a month.
In scientific results so shocking that they were hidden away for a century, it was discovered that they were not averse to a spot of gang rape, necrophilia, pedophilia and psychotic violence. I don’t recall any of that in Happy Feet or the film beloved by the US fundamentalists, March of the Penguins, which the gun loving God botherers claimed showed gay marriage was wrong and intelligent design was true.
The disturbing results were the result of the most awful conditions. George Levick and companions were dumped in the Antarctic while Scott marched to the South Pole on a place they called Inexpressible Island, where they were trapped until a desperate evacuation nine months later. It says something when some of Britain’s most educated men could not find words to convey the horror of their situation when naming their abode.
They lived on rotting blubber in an ice cave, whilst making their scientific observations and suffering from hunger, frostbite and dysentery. Levick’s only respite was to go and watch the hideous behavior of the only living creatures for miles around. “There seems to be no crime too low for these penguins,” he wrote in Greek, lest uneducated eyes note his despair.
The most remarkable aspect is that the findings were and are scientifically valid. Lord alone knows what state of mind he was in by that point. Sitting in a frozen Hell, the people coming to get you out of it are walking to their deaths and in the months of darkness the only sound is the desperate squawks of penguins being viciously assaulted. That’s just got to play merry Hell with your chakra.
Anyway, it seemed to do him good, after popping over to Gallipoli, he went on to set up the British Schools Exploration Society, where “exploring facilities for youth should be created under as rigorous conditions as could be made available.” Try and organize a trip like that today and you’ll be drowning under risk assessments and ‘client care’ memos. But he was right, as David McCullough Jr explained to his graduation class, we’ve wrapped up and mollycoddled the youth for too long. Send them to wild and scary places, let them take risks.
We should also let the Christian right rethink their pro-penguin stance. They should send themselves to Inexpressible Island for further research and who would make a better leader for this voyage of discovery than Sarah Palin.