(The following is an unedited free write I wrote during my Wilderness Writing course after being given the prompt “What Does It Mean to Be Wild?”)
To be wild means to be independent of any formal rules or regulations. Animals in the wild do not have to wear clothes in public or only hunt during certain seasons; they do not listen to a government and are not punished for breaking any sort of rules.
Being “civilized” means following a certain set of rules that are deemed necessary to live and work together in a peaceful manner. These rules are regulations are often created by some sort of government or authority, but our culture also places additional sets of rules that must be obeyed to be considered civilized. For instance, we must eat with a fork or a spoon unless we are eating finger foods. We are not punished by the government if we eat mashed potatoes with our fingers, but we are socially punished because we are judged and/or scolded by our peers.
That being said, group rules do exist among animals, and there are sometimes authority figures. An alpha male leading a pack of wolves is an example of authority in the wild. The other wolves are supposed to listen to and follow the alpha wolf–in other words, obey his rules. Another example is the fact that ants who attempt to reproduce by having sex are attacked by the other ants in the colony–they are enforcing the rule that only certain genes may be passed on in the ant colony. (I’m sure there are many other examples of rules in the wild that I’m not aware of.)
Maybe deeming someone or some animal “wild” is similar to calling them “weird” or “abnormal”–they are categorized as such because they do not follow the same set of government or social laws as we do.
Or maybe being wild simply means living solely off the land and being at one with nature. Free of bills, work hours, and inhibitions. Plants and animals meet all of those criteria.
What do you think makes something or someone wild?
“A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.”* –Albert Camus
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”* –Albert Einstein
My Reference to Ants: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1870695,00.html