Is Reality Vengeful or Consequential?

It was interesting to watch a recent FaceBook exchange relating to nature and “its” actions. Someone posted one of the (now well watched) videos of the recent flash flooding in Toowoomba. They added a throw away comment about “nature’s vengeance.” The commentator was passionately aware of the natural environment and so no doubt wanted to connect lack of human care for the environment with recent catastrophic weather events. But I say “throwaway line” because I doubt they thought much about their “nature’s vengeance” comment in a literal sense. Not long had the comment been made than a reply was added “I don’t think nature is ‘vengeful’ – ‘consequential’ but not ‘vengeful’.”

As I say, I doubt the initial commentator was trying to make a philosophical/theological point such as “All reality is a ‘being.' It behaves like a human being. It is also separate from humans and can take vengeful action against us.”

Nevertheless the respondents comment was fascinating. Our language unknowingly (and sometimes disturbingly) asserts philosophical and theological principles that we would not want to propagate if we were more aware.

To my way of thinking, we humans are enmeshed in the root system of all reality (what might sometimes be called “god.”) Our actions contribute to the evolution and emergence of that whole system. We can therefore be buffeted by the rest of the system as a CONSEQUENCE of our actions within it. Reality is consequential – in other words it is NON VIOLENT.

Throw in a line like “nature’s vengeance” and suddenly nature is separate from us, observes our actions and takes unconnected but punitive action in response. In other words reality is VIOLENT.

My experience of reality is the former, not the latter.


  1. Hey, You need an 'i' in your title. Reality is not Vengeful IMHO. Realty might be, depending on whether it's Hocking Stuart or Biggin Scott, and whether you sold privately and thereby bypassed their commission. In that case, perhaps.

    But if it were reality, as seems to be indicated by your article, I think perhaps it's consequential, but also random. ie. We get the governments that we deserve. And we also inherit an environment to which our human development has contributed vast deposits of carbon, no doubt a cause of the increase in frequency and severity of catastrophic weather patterns.

    Perhaps it's like the apocalyptic literature of the Old Testament Prophets. Weeping, Gnashing of teeth, Warnings, insights from an hostile future, the writing's on the wall. Perhaps these storms are simply a catalyst for action. We need to experience the fury of weather so that we might be challenged to start treading more carefully on our fragile planet; using our resources more wisely.

    In some respects, the concept of a vengeful environment might be productive. For if we have treated our world, and the resources at our disposal, with such disrespect, how can we be surprised when nature's response to our wasteful overconsumption of resources is a forceful destruction of our fortresses. Currently our relationship with nature seems to be mutually destructive, and perhaps the notion of a vengeful reality can encourage a more sympathetic relationship between nature and beast.

  2. Thank you anonymous colleague. I had wondered why the sudden interest from real estate offices in my ramblings.

  3. The vengeful language is unsurprising, even for those, the majority, who see our reality as being 'indifferent' - just as is. We always seek to characterize events in human terms, as if there is some sort of human-style consciousness in play. It helps us make sense of the otherwise inexplicable. Unfortunately seeking, ultimately, unsustainable explanations leads to greater dilemmas like the 'problem of evil'. Alex