The Battle of Kruger- Beauty and Brutality

This has been viewed over a million times on Youtube, but in case you missed it, it is worth watching. It’s about eight minutes, and thrilling:

And a Texas pasture..

I stood yesterday in a field full of wildflowers- firewheels, coneflowers, verbena, winecups, prickly pear and many others. The sky was not merely blue, it was cerulean, and filled with sun-tinged cumulous clouds and perfect light, the kind that van Gogh, and only van Gogh could capture with his oils. Each flower absorbed and reflected that light. A hundred thousand of them together created a symphony of that light, and my heart danced.

For me, it is easy to be entranced by such a scene and consider that to be the standard of what I deem to be natural and lovely. And while it is beautiful, I must not close my eyes or mind to the grinding brutality of the natural world. Nor must I consider that beauty to be one thing, and that brutality another. They are both part of the same wave of life which washes over our planet continuously. There is a season of lavenders, yellows, reds, and magenta; and there is a season when those colors will become crisp and dry, bend toward the earth, and be absorbed by it again. It is not one or the other; it is both, together, a crescendo and a rest, pianissimo and forte, an endless concert.

In scenes like the ones in the “Battle at Kruger,” we wince and are discomforted by the savagery (our word) and pain (our empathetic response) involved in the life cycles of animals. But we are enabled to be drawn into the beauty of a pride of lions in sated relaxation, watching the tumbling of their cubs, only because of the ten thousand generations of lions before- those which tore through a hundred thousand years of herds and flocks of slower or weaker or smaller mammals and birds. As humans, we watch an incredible scene like the one played out in “Kruger” and project our own human history and our own notions of chaos or contentment onto it, wanting even to interfere with the lions’ hunger-defined onslaught – somehow- so that the buffalo calf might escape. And then we cheer as the buffalo successfully and heroically regroup, and charge the dastardly raiders in the rescue of their young one.

Our own emotions are involved in such a scene, I think, because of the relatedness we feel to all the animals involved. If the lions were sucking little white worms from the edges of the pond, few of us would cringe in horror over the worms’ fate. But we feel the calf’s confusion and wounds; we know something about the nervous system and emotions of a fellow mammal. We admire the courage and selfless, sacrificial willingness of the adult buffalo. We see our own human heroes in their actions.

But it all, all of it, is part of that same symphony of life, wherever it is being heard. The chords struck in South Africa reverberate and blend in the melodies of a Texas prairie. The waves of life peak, wash ashore, and recede in eternal and renewing rhythms. Lions, buffalo, crocodiles; firewheels, verbena, coneflowers, We reflect the same light as the wildflowers; we live within the same passions as the animals. And our seasons, our melodies, are always renewing, too.




One thought on “The Battle of Kruger- Beauty and Brutality

  1. I enjoyed this post and the Carl Sagan post.

    I go to a retreat every year in Austin where we do various forms of meditations.

    In one meditation, the facilitator asked us to close our eyes and do an Awareness meditation for about a half an hour..then he asked us to open our eyes, in awareness, and look into the middle of the room where, he had placed a vase of beautiful flowers (that had been sitting next to him for days, hardly noticed…they had become a part of the scene).

    When I opened my eyes, I could feel the presence and the awareness that the flowers had for me…it was a remarkable experience…to experience the flowers being aware of me…we can know how the worms and flowers and all the other life forms feel, even if we do not share their nrevous systems…we all feel joy and pain.

    Thank you for sharing all of yourself with us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s