The struggle for survival exists not only among living things.
Is there a more tranquil scene than the sight of sheep grazing in a green field?
But even here the struggle for survival continues, with one animal (a sheep) destroying other organisms (the grass it eats).
True, the grass is not a living being and may not feel much. But it, too, has the "desire" to develop, flower, grow, and multiply.
Who pays heed to the desire of plants to flower?
And is there a big difference between a human being slaughtering cattle, a tiger devouring its prey, a chicken pecking a worm in the dunghill, or a worm gnawing at and killing a plant?
Everyone eats everyone else-—all destroy and annihilate each other—in fighting for their lives.
This is nothing but a more precise observation of the same phenomenon.
Big animals chase smaller ones, and the small ones look for even weaker victims.
Plants spread their roots in the earth, extend their leaves, grab from each other, strangle each other.
The idyllic pasture is nothing but a field in which an incessant battle goes on day and night: a fight unto death, the struggle for survival.
This war is neither incidental nor temporary:- it is part and parcel of the very nature of things.
"The strong survive; the weak perish" is its slogan.
How odd and absurd, then, does this very poetic verse seem—"His tender mercies extend over all His works." (Psalm 145)
Is it true?
Does it not seem like scornful, derisive, back-handed language, a description that is as remote as possible from the bitter reality of the worst of all possible worlds?
A tough, cruel, ruthless world in which the strong set the rules; a world of darkness and evil—this is what our world looks like when examined closely, with cold, unsentimental eyes.
The beauty of the world is in reality the camouflage colors of the various creatures.
–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From On Being Free, p.206, by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz