WHEN TAPIRS BECOME THE JUDGES OF PEOPLE
Maybe because of my “Amazonianness” and my “woodsy” spirit, from the beginning of my [spiritual] journey I have always been touched by Paul’s statement that nature groans while waiting for liberation because it is in a state of bondage; and that such bondage wasn’t imposed on it by any wrongdoing of its own choice, but by someone else’s vanity. 1
That’s where a good deal of my ecological feeling comes from. However, I was still unable to figure out which historical scenario Paul could have witnessed that made him catch that glimpse.
A revelation and a glimpse. A glimpse and a revelation.
It’s this way because for me, a son of the 20th century and an invader of the 21st century, it’s easy to read those words and give them an awesome meaning based on my own global and cosmic perception as a son of this global and cosmic time. To me it’s easy to see that the human presence on the Earth is the tyranny of vanity over life and nature. I can see that. But how could Paul see that? Because in his days, nature, from an ecological perspective, wasn’t totally smashed by people’s vanity yet. The Earth itself owned its larger portion, and nature still belonged to itself in significant freedom.
I say so because I don’t believe Paul received messages as if he were a medium. He wasn’t in a trance when he received revelations. They sprang in his conscience. It was like an inner explosion of light that eventually settled down as a spiritual understanding. However, in order to be able to state that nature was subjected to vanity, and do so with a feeling that expresses itself as cosmic — as is with the “feeling” in Romans 8 —, if not by a vision or through psychic abilities, one could only do that if he had been exposed to some overwhelming scenario that stirred the feeling quite well so that the concept could be well demonstrated too.
And where could this “vision” have come from to Paul about the subjection of nature to people’s vanity?
Well, it’s known that among the elegant cruelties of the esthetic-based, hedonistic Roman society, there were battles between gladiators and beasts. These shows had a major social, political and psychological significance. And there was a linkage between them. It all was linked by blood and laughter.
In the surroundings of Rome there were vivariums (zoos) with animals like elephants, tigers, lions, deer, rhinoceroses, and many other creatures. They were brought from several different places in the Roman Empire and were kept there, in great heaps, within reasonable room, eating sentenced men in order to give them an appetite to devour gladiators in the arena.
In fact, there were men who sought the emperor’s favors by continually promoting this kind of entertainment, for even the act of stirring up the beasts’ taste for the human flesh was carried out as a show in which the criminals were laid down to be eaten by the awfully starving beasts in front of an overexcited audience.
A part of the emperor’s power came from the art of entertaining!
It’s said that half of the days of the year were filled with this kind of fun and slaughter.
Then, when the animals had become quite “felinely homicidal” they were taken to fight with armed, skilled gladiators.
Thousands of beautiful, gorgeous, rare animals from distant lands were killed under the frenzy of crowded arenas and the noise of deadly scoffs turned into fun.
The rotation of animals in the Roman vivariums was huge. In this way, the animals in Paul’s days experienced one of the wickedest demonstrations of Vanity’s rule over Nature.
I’m quite sure that such shows must have deeply impressed Paul’s mind. That's why it was only natural and proper for him to say, “…nature groans … travails in pain … was subjected to vanity … because of him who subjected it”.
If we take into account all the datable time of life on the Earth, we will see that from the most primitive forms of existence up to humankind, billions of years passed. Our existence happens on the sixth day. And if we took 1 hour as a reference measure for the entire time of life on the Earth, the human existence would have begun in the last 8 seconds.
That’s just it: All of the few thousand years of our existence on the Earth would be equivalent to mere 8 seconds if life as a whole on the Earth were measured from the beginning by taking 1 hour as a time scale!
However, in this 8-second period we’ve proved ourselves the greatest evil that ever came on the Earth.
If whales could think, they’d say, “And God made the devil”—referring to man. And all the other animals on the Earth would say the same, except for the ones that lost their identity and became “domestic” and dependant on their masters.
The worst thing is that in less than 10 per cent of just 1 of our 8-second existence on the Earth, we managed to devise a system that is able to destroy, by itself, all the natural balance and wipe out a great part of life, especially our own life.
From Nature’s point of view, nothing more stupid ever happened on the Earth than the creation of “intelligence” — the human intelligence.
In fact, humans are the planet’s cancer, nature’s AIDS, the ecosystem’s Spanish flu, the existence’s bubonic plague.
If humans will judge angels, 2 let’s be aware, though, that creatures — all of them, including planktons, crustaceans, snails and earthworms — will judge humans.
“Then I saw another Angel flying in mid-air, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim … He said in a loud voice: ‘Fear God and give him glory … Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’” (Revelation 14:6-7) — this John saw as a serious warning in the Apocalypse of our own actions.
Humans woke up from their sleep of innocence and started the destruction of the Earth!
Who can deny that such a beast, besides being intelligent, is stupid as well? And that besides being smart, is idiotic as well? And that besides being beautiful, is diabolical as well? And that besides being loving to his/her own, is a ravenous cancer to everything else as well? And that besides being human, is his/her own worst enemy as well?—yes, his own enemy and an enemy of life itself?
Yes, who can deny that humans are sinners? They are the cannibals of life!
Even beasts convict us concerning sin!
1. See Romans 8:19-22
2. See 1 Corinthians 6:3
From the original: “QUANDO AS ANTAS FOREM OS JUÍZES DOS HOMENS”
Translated by F. R. Castelo Branco | February 2007
First posted in Portuguese in October 2004