An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of August 31, 2003
issued from the woods near Natchez, Mississippi, USA

MARS'S NEXT VISIT

My cousin Jeff in Kentucky is as enthusiastic about space exploration as you can get. After reading my last Newsletter, in which I referred to this week's close encounter between Earth and Mars, Jeff wrote saying that he hoped that by the next time Mars comes this close -- over two centuries from now -- humans will be busily colonizing new worlds.

I just wonder if such will be the case. In fact, sometimes I think that there may be a universal natural law as inescapable as E=MC2 that states this:

When any evolving lifeform reaches a certain stage of dominance over its fellow creatures, because that lifeform's dominance will be a consequence of the aggression and self-centeredness encoded in its genetic heritage, that lifeform enevitably will destroy its own environment and therefore itself.

Maybe such a universal law doesn't exist, however. My hopefulness is based on how I feel when my body is in a steady state, my mind clear, and my thoughts turn to the grandness and beauty of the things around me -- the bugs, weeds, clouds, compost heap, people...

At those times, which are frequent, I feel that I enter a state of spirituality, or communion with the Creator, that empowers me to be more than the sum total of my body's hungers and mental predispositions. In that state, I drift in the opposite direction to being a collection of hungers needing to be satisfied.

In fact, maybe there's another law of nature that states this:

Aggression and self-centeredness dissipate in direct proportion to the extent to which one nurtures his or her spirituality.

By the next time Mars rolls around, whether we're colonizing other worlds or not, maybe we humans will be saying to one another, "The last time this happened, back in 2003, we had wars and mindless, ecosystem-shattering consumerism instead of reverence for the beauty and sanctity of Earthly life; we had religions instead of spirituality, and; we felt despair instead of the wonder and contentment we now know.