We, humans, crave belonging and so when we feel like we belong in a group we see other groups differently than we see our own. Common groups are determined by gender, ethnicity, race, economic status, and more. I see this type of mentality in my softball team. When we’re playing against a different team and see that the umpires made a bad call and for example call some of our team players out even though they weren’t, my teammates get angry and shout that that’s not okay. However, if the same happens to the other team’s players, my teammates laugh because they find it amusing. This shows that we’re okay if bad things happen to others as long as they don’t happen to us as well.
I believe that if the umpires made a call that affected both teams badly, that we would relate to our opposing team and both get mad at the umpires because we now are in the same boat, the same group and the umpires are in the out-group. Now, if we don’t see ourselves as belonging to nature, as connected with it, but instead as separate from it, then we don’t care about is as much as if we did, since it is natural to want to take care of our own. For example, if big companies were to get rid of the forests in the United States to plant palm trees for their oil, Americans might get agitated and protest that their landscape shouldn’t be destroyed like that. In the tropical forest only are the palm trees who are planted there for their oil which is primarily used for cooking in developing countries and can be found in food products, detergents, cosmetics, and more. Palm oil is in the vast majority of packaged goods such as soap, lipstick, and sweets, because of how cheap it is compared to other vegetable oils.
That being said there is a huge and ever-growing demand for palm oil and so its production is increasing drastically. Plantations are spreading across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and where do they put them, you ask? Rainforests are being eroded to make space for the plantations, which is contributing to climate change and to the extinction of species of animals and plants. I believe that if the erosion of forest for palm tree plantations were happening in the United States that people would be more offended by it and trying to stop it. This is the case because for us (those living here) the USA is our in-group, we’re part of it, but Asia, Africa, and Latin America are our out-groups because we don’t feel like we belong there and most of us haven’t even been to either place. That’s why we don’t seem to bother about their destructions because when we eat a chocolate bar such as Mars or Snickers we don’t see the impact its ingredients have on the world.
We may feel separate from nature but we certainly are not. At least that’s what I think.
We just sometimes forget that we are a part of nature.