An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of July 17, 2005
issued from the Sierra Nevada Foothills
east of Sacramento, California, USA

ON THE BEAUTY OF RELATIVISM

Probably you will guess from my above discussion on the value of crap that I am a relativist -- one of those people against whom fundamentalists like to preach.

For, I was brought up by a squeaky-clean mother very steeped in the 50s mindset. She believed in frequent Pinesol moppings of the linoleum kitchen floor, Listerine garglings, crisply ironed handkerchiefs and body spritzings of Old Spice throughout the day. Getting cozy with crap has required of me a good bit of mental gymnastics, for I am profoundly programmed to be revolted by it.

So, which of my two attitudes toward crap is right? I think you can see that each attitude has had its place, depending on the context.

The quality of crap that makes it eligible for such conflicting opinions is that it is complex stuff that works at many levels of reality.

If you can agree with that, then I ask you: Just what in this Universe is so simple and one-dimensional that it is not eligible for the same kind of conflicting notions? In my opinion, everything that IS, is so complex and mind-bogglingly interconnected with everything else that nothing is immune from our having two or more minds about it, depending on which way we're looking at it.

Moreover, just what is one to expect in a universe in which everything is always evolving, where we ourselves change so drastically as we gain new experiences and mature, where new things and new situations around us arise all the time, forever transmogrifying and adapting to everything else, surging forward and outward, all the time, all the time... ? In a Universe of perpetually, lustily, joyously evolving perspectives, how can anyone claim that anything has just one absolutely restricted meaning and value?

How are such thoughts as these appropriate for a naturalist's newsletter? It is because the thing I love most, Life on Earth, is being threatened by inappropriate human thought patterns and consequent behavior. In my opinion, as a species we will never gain the insights needed to change ourselves if we continue indulging in belief systems based on concepts thousands of years old, the sacred scriptures of which arose long before it occurred to anyone that good people -- just because there are too many of us wanting too much -- can destroy the planetary ecosystem.

Relativistic thinking at least gives us the mental flexibility and the spiritual grounding needed for us to begin formulating ideas about what we need to do now. Facebook Icon.