The Everglades National Park
FIU IDH 4007

The Matrix

Caroline Poizat
IDH 4007
Fall Semester 2003
Prof.Machonis / Dr. Graham

   Last Friday, Dr. Graham asked a very interesting question: what are the reasons of the creation of the Everglades National Park? My question is: Why do countries around the world create National Parks and where does this need come from?

   I think the answer lies in human nature. Humans are one of the rare species that cannot live along with other species without the "need" to destroy them. I was reading, in the Visitor Center, about the particular situation of the different species of the Everglades during the dry season. They all have to live together (predator and prey) in restricted areas where the only sources of water are found. The most critical part is for the aquatic life that has to gather in Gator holes, becoming an easy prey for birds and gators. However, life is well organized. A natural equilibrium exists and all species survive: none of them becomes extinct because of this proximity.

   Except, of course, when humans come into action and upset the balance of water in the Everglades during the dry season. The ecological system, this balance that exists thanks to the evolution for generations of all species, is destroyed. The consequence is the extinction or near extinction of several species like the wood storks that cannot adapt to the intrusion of humans in their ecosystems. Therefore, there is the need to create National Parks.

   I think that the movie The Matrix catches something from the reality of our world. The majority of people live with personal and professional goals. They have to succeed in their careers to be able to have the lives they want and to accomplish their dreams. However, they live in a closed world where only humans are present. (I concede that dogs, cats and pets in general have a place in this world.) Their only limits are imposed by laws, traditions, and culture. They are answerable to nobody, except other humans. There are no big predators to worry about.

    Nature is only a perfect place for vacation, a perfect getaway or a wonderful location to build a vacation home. Actually, nature is only a convenience to humans. Humans do not adapt to nature. Nature has to adapt to human uses. Humans see nothing else in it. For sure, they are sometimes impressed by how magical or spectacular some places can be or they are amazed by the various species that live in nature. Sometimes, also, they are annoyed by nature. For example, they do not think someone will ever complain if we eradicate the mosquitoes from the face of the earth. They have a well-organized life where the consequences of their actions in the natural world do not concern them.

   However, nothing is perfect. Some humans starve to death while others have an opulent life full of "human things" (materialism). Who will be rich or who will be poor is determined by the human system: the Matrix. In the movie the Matrix, I think Agent Smith makes a good point when he explains that they have tried to create a perfect world for humans without any violence, murder or anger, but this matrix has failed because Evil is part of human nature. We curiously need to destroy others or ourselves.

    A few humans have escaped from the Matrix (from the artificial human world.) They are the ones in the last step of the Maslow Hierarchy of need: self-actualization. These escapees realize that humans are not the only species on the planet. They realize that other organisms live on this planet. They also realize that humans were on the path of destroying a part of and maybe, in the long run, all other species (plant and animal) that were perceived as not necessary to their survival. So here comes the emergency to create sanctuaries to protect the world from humans. I agree it is not an easy task. How do you convince people that it is necessary to protect something, if people have no idea that this something exists? In some case, like the Amazon forest, it is difficult to protect it. How do you explain to local farmers, who want to do the same thing that we did to the Everglades or others ecosystems, that they cannot? Because others humans have destroyed the majority of the oxygen supply of the planet, they should not destroy the forest. They should preserve the natural world. It is Mission Impossible to make sense of the necessity of protecting the other part of the planet (the natural world as opposed to the human world) because people live in the Matrix. The natural world is only a convenience; it is nothing important. The economic reality of our world is more important because inside the Matrix that is the only one that counts: you cannot be part of society if you do not follow the human rules.

   To come back to the marshmallow thing, alligators are here to amaze the public: "Where are the alligators?" Tourists do not see the Everglades as they should be. They see the natural world as part of the human world. They should instead see the human world as part of the natural world. I was puzzled when Dr. Graham, the first day of class, said that if a hurricane hits the Florida coats and the level of water threatens human lives, we will evacuate the water in the Everglades even if there will be a risk of destroying it. Yes, we are back into the Matrix: 0.0002% of human population worth the destruction of a unique ecosystem.

   Where am I? I guess I'm still trying to escape from the Matrix. Some part of me is still definitely into it: I am going to the University to be part of the good side of the human world. The part that tries to escape from the Matrix is the one who chooses the Everglades class in the hope to understand the other world. I was always attracted by this other world. I was part of a "green" elementary school where the morning was dedicated to the regular school program and the afternoon concentrated on Nature. I was really shaped by this period. I'm going to tell you something I did when I was younger but do not tell my parents who, after more than fifteen years, are still mad at me. We were living in a newly built villa in the South of France. My father was ready to install a gate to close our yard. However, there was a problem: an old oak was in the middle of where the gate was supposed to be. It was then very difficult to enter the property with a car. The solution was then to cut the oak. I was 8 and I revolted. How could we possibly kill a tree that was 200 years just for our convenience? I tried to convince my parents that it was not the right thing to do, but I was only a child and they did not listen to me. At the same time, at my school, the mayor of the village visited the new concept of the "green" elementary school. I did not remember very well but he was from an ecological party and I think he gave a speech about the importance of the natural world in our lives. So, I went to see him and explained my problem about this poor oak that was to be killed. And for sure, he listened to me: my parents did not get the permission to cut the oak. Many people still wonder why my parents have a 200-year oak in front of their gate. This was the little anecdote of Journal #2.

   To come back to our matrix, I do not know if there is a solution. We definitely cannot reload the matrix. Can all people be freed from the matrix? I don't think so. Many people are not ready for the truth. The creation of National Parks is part of the solution. We will be sure that some parts of the other world remain. However, as we can see with the Everglades, it is impossible to protect it totally from the human world. The agricultural fields of the north of Florida pollute the Everglades and change their ecosystem. Paradoxically, the Everglades need human help to fight back against exotic species or to light fires to protect the pineland ecosystem. And even worse, they need money from the economic world to survive.

   To make people aware of the importance and the complexity of the other world is a solution. But the question is: can we all live outside the Matrix?

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