Rachel Carson’s ”A Fable for Tomorrow”
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Time is such an essential concept in today’s world, yet the source from which its importance arose has given birth to its misuse. How do we really use this short amount of time that has been provided to us on earth? The modern world has shaped our way of life, which is highly criticized by many thinkers. In her essay “A Fable for Tomorrow”, Rachel Carson describes the effects of “man’s attempt to control nature” on our planet and on our future. Two prolific transcendentalists, who flourished decades before Carson, would not be surprised by the most shocking statements made in her essay. Thoreau’s “Walden” and Emerson’s “Nature” brilliantly and unknowingly foreshadow the “fable for tomorrow”.
In her essay “A Fable for Tomorrow”, Rachel Carson condemns society’s pitiable attempt to tame the all mighty force of nature. She encourages us adopt a different attitude towards nature by taking an alternate road which would not destine us to destruction. Carson thoroughly describes the discoveries of technology and science, such as nuclear fusion and radiation, synthetic chemical compounds, and insecticides to prove that man is using the treasures of nature to better destroy it. Carson states that “the rapidity of change and the speed with which new situations are created follow the impetuous and heedless pace of man rather than the deliberate pace of nature”. In other words, men’s countless interventions on the flow of nature’s mechanisms do not take account of any possible consequences, which could be fatal because the pace of man is too fast for nature’s natural response. Carson foreshadows pandemics, the discontinuation of life and reproduction, and perhaps a complete retreat of nature. Nature’s gifts of intelligence to man will ultimately backfire if he doesn’t use it in an intelligent manner.
Carson’s essay breathes the notion of time. Evolution and adaptation take place over time and humanity is disrespecting this reality, accelerating every process with a massive exponent. In the text of Walden, Thoreau makes many radical judgments on humanity’s use of time. “Our life is fritted away by detail”. He asks questions such as “why should we live with such hurry and waste of life”. He strongly suggests that the way we live is not in harmony with the way nature wants us to live. Our life is not inspired by life itself but rather is the summation of countless impertinent concerns. Like Carson, Thoreau refers to technology; “Men think that it is essential that the Nation has commerce, and export ice, and talk through a telegraph and ride at 30 miles per hour”.
From this we understand why Thoreau disagrees with the contemporary way of life. Those are the details which strip us away from any genuine connections with our surroundings and impede us from living. We are so concerned with gossip, numbers, money, and inventions that we forget to truly look around and live according to nature’s laws. The sources which gave birth to the judgments made by Thoreau are simultaneously the cause of Carson’s concerns about the future of the planet. While a man is wasting his life, he is also tampering with his prosperity’s chances to experience life.
In his essay ‘Nature”, Emerson condemns society’s way of life in a similar way and also encourages men to turn to nature to find peace. He states that men are blinded by “impertinent griefs” and that “few adults can truly see nature”. Those griefs are inevitably the same as the ones described by Emerson and condemned by Carson. He says that in nature “all mean egotism vanishes”. This logically implies that when not in nature, man is filled with egotism. Would this be the source of his concerns? “Nature” is an outreach to society; Emerson is trying to guide it to peace by pointing it to the great outdoors. His description of common human behavior goes hand in hand with Carson’s judgment of the contemporary society. The accumulation of years of torment over superficial issues and of “egotism” could contribute to transforming Carson’s dark visions into reality. If only men knew how to fully appreciate nature, Carson’s statements would be irrelevant. Men wouldn’t be concerned with money and numbers and try to find happiness by tampering with nature. They would rather find happiness within it’s confines.
Thoreau and Emerson encourage men to turn to nature to find contentment. Carson, years later, demonstrates how men’s use – and disregard – of nature will lead to its destruction. The three authors would agree that the pace of life is inappropriate and that the time frame we are given on earth is terribly misused. The declarations made by Carson on the future of nature illustrate the consequences of this same pace of life and use of time. If men could truly stop and see the world for the world itself, Carson’s warnings would die away. In nature, men would discover that they are apart of something greater then themselves, something which should not be tamed by them.