Photo of a blue whale by Andrea Izzotti
The blue whale is the largest animal known to have ever existed. Adults reach from 70 to 80 feet (21 to 24 meters), and a few have grown up to 110 feet (33.5 meters) in length. Their hearts are nearly the size of golfcarts, and their tongues can be as large as an elephant. It’s almost impossible to imagine any living thing this massive.
Because of their size, it was also believed they had no natural predators, but in 2019, this all changed. Scientists, who were studying blue whales at that time, witnessed one being attacked by a group of killer whales. It took over 50 of them to incapacitate this behemoth, utilizing various tactics to injure and eventually drown this giant.
Nature can be cruel, and even for these scientists who witnessed that brutal incident, it was a sad event. However, this tragedy also sustained dozens of orcas as well as many aquatic bystanders. It is the cycle of nature, and one which these animals may have no ability to control or change.
Ironically, we witness nature working in both harmony and discord. A beautiful snowy vista can be swallowed up by an untimely avalanche. A peaceful beachside resort may be decimated by a tsunami. As hard as we try, we can neither accurately predict nor gain complete control her next move. Many times, we are simply left to her mercy.
If nature works in these extremes, how does it manifest itself in humans? Does it ever cause a conflict within us? Are we angered by certain triggers that our minds tell us we should simply forget? Does our intellect sometimes override our natural inclinations? Is human nature causing our species to advance?
When it comes to deciding how to act, we do have a choice. We are not always obligated to submit to cold-blooded urges causing us to act in ways society has deemed uncivilized. Kindness, empathy, and compassion discourage us from behaving like orcas besieging a blue whale, but are these positive emotions a natural inclination or something we have personally developed?
Fortunately, there are laws prohibiting the kind of action the orcas took against the blue whale. However, no law – no matter how just or benevolent it may be – can forbid us from carrying out such an act if we are compelled to do so. No legislative body can ultimately determine the kind of person we choose to be. No one can force us to put on a show and be someone who we are not meant to be.
Being “who you are,” however, does not dictate that we must constantly speak our mind and never hesitate no matter what the consequences may be. It may be how our instincts direct us, but it doesn’t make it the right decision. Even though we have every right to choose this action, it’s possible we may need to rethink “who we are.”
In nature, loud noises can signify a warning. Animals also have distinct calls to reach out to others in their family or species; a process that has evolved over millions of years. Loud noises from a human are at times indicators of arrogance, self-importance, and malice, which by the way, only developed during their time on earth. Whether these were innate or not, they still seized the opportunity to choose these brash actions.
When our behaviors are specifically done to ridicule, demean, and harm others, it doesn’t matter whether they are intrinsic or not. It demonstrates conceit and a lack of consideration. It says that “being me” is nothing more than a selfish ploy, and they would set fire to anything as long as they can get their hands on what they selfishly believe is theirs; even while the world around them goes up in flames.
Is this instinctual conduct or is it “who we really are?”
Being who we are is an important step in personal development, nonetheless, it must also imply growth. Perhaps it’s time to rethink who we should be, or more appropriately, who we can become. Rather than emphasizing who we are, when the focus is on becoming the best version of ourselves, we are constantly looking to improve ourselves and empower those around us.
Let us show strength by acting against what often feels like natural, yet destructive behavior. We must shun malicious and spiteful actions in ourselves and cease applauding and exonerating those who display such atrocious conduct. Let us not fall victim to the lure of getting in the spotlight by speaking cruel, vindictive, and callous words under the guise of “who we are.”
For many decades, bickering and division have seemed to steadily increase. This is not some other horrible side effect from the pandemic, it has been a human trajectory for decades. It is painstakingly obvious that this kind of behavior has not advanced and benefited the human race. Its ugliness has promoted division, prejudice and hate to unparalleled heights.
It is time to put civility back into daily lives. We cannot wait for leaders to do it for us. We, the little ones, must choose to increase our integrity and prove our kindness and compassion with actions. If enough of us can make this choice, we can become the orcas that will drown out the arrogant voices of the blue whales and create a sustaining life for others wanting to live in harmony and collaboration.
Nature is a strong force and for the most part, we have no choice or control over what it desires to spring forth. We humans, however, do have a choice. We can decide to be victims of its grim and destructive nature or choose to become one of Nature’s wonders.
My thanks to Andrea Izzotti for the beautiful picture and I look forward to your comments.