Scientists have discovered what it takes to raise a healthy baby chimp with a real mother – all the nutrition and the calories and so on. So they created a wire mother with a bit of fur, a perch like an arm across the chest and nipples that projected through the wicker-and-wire mannequin. The nipples, attached to a sort of baby bottle, supplied all the nutrients a chimp was known to need, the same nutrients that would come from a real mother’s milk, maybe even more.
But despite the fact that baby chimps could climb up on their “wire mothers” and be safe and get all the same nutrients, the same protein, the same basic protection from the elements they’d get from their real mothers, the chimps with the wire mothers withered and died.
I wonder this: As we cover more of our planet with concrete and steel, as we communicate more and more with forms of instant messaging that takes the place of more intimate interactions, as we give our children more and more stuff and less and less of our time, as we go further and further away from a basic simplicity of living, will our Earth become for us the wire mother and our souls wither and die as a result?