Very interesting post.
I can completely empathize with you confusion/depression. Nature is FULL of unimaginable waste and suffering, and we could sit here all day citing examples without even scratching the surface. I’ll refrain from doing that, but we could.
I don’t really have any good comments/advice, but here are just a couple of thoughts that came to mind at the moment:
- Plants almost certainly don’t feel pain or suffer. I don’t just say this just because they don’t have the structures/mechanisms that we animals have to perceive pain or to suffer (although they don’t), but also because it just wouldn’t be beneficial for them. I don’t think they have evolved different mechanisms to do the same thing, since pain/suffering are very complex and specific adaptations that have evolved to lead to certain outcomes in animals. That doesn’t really apply to plants, or to a lot of other organisms.
- Nature is FULL of unimaginable waste and suffering, but it is also FULL of unimaginable beauty, complexity, intricacy, and other good things. So if you can do something to improve the situation, do so… but when you can’t, there is nothing wrong with a sort of “willful avoidance” or with intentionally ignoring the bad to focus on the good. If you think about it, being depressed, angry, or feeling bad about the things you can’t do anything about only increases the amount of suffering in the world. So don’t make things worse, it is fine (and good) to find the good in the situation.
- The ugly side of nature is actually what creates the good side. We simply would not have the good side without the bad. Every beautiful, complex, and amazing adaptation that you see in the natural world, the very fact that anything more complex than self-replicating nucleic acids exists, is directly due to the fact that competition, parasitism, exploitation, and death exist. Ultimately, it is those interactions which are the driving force for the evolution of complexity, cooperation, altruism, and every other good thing that has evolved.