An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of August 28, 2005
issued   from the Sierra Nevada Foothills
east of Sacramento, California, USA

ON THE ECOLOGY OF
HUMAN DIVERSITY

During recent years I think the single most transfixing insight that has matured in me is this: That we humans are programmed genetically and socially to entertain a much more diverse set of basic assumptions about life than I ever dreamed possible.

The only way I can explain it is that maybe in the realm of human thoughts and belief systems there is a yet-undiscovered natural law at work. This law would bring about a diversity in mankind's mentality analogous to the diversity seen among plants and animals in our forests and fields, and the Universe at large -- a diversity not only as rambunctious as Nature's but, also, structured like it.

In the forest a vine takes advantage of an oak's steady, hard-won growth, overtops the oak, and the oak suffers from its shading. I can think of people and cultures who behave just like that vine, and others who suffer just like that oak. In the forest there are parasites who rob plants who ploddingly photosynthesize their own food, and saprophytes who get along on the garbage of the forest floor. The forest has hawks and vultures, hummingbirds and owls, all vital to the integrity of the Web of Life, and every species follows a strategy of survival that on one level or another is precisely mirrored by the manners of this or that human or human culture. The trick that has helped me grasp this has been trying to see my fellow humans with the same detached clarity with which I see vines and mushrooms.

What does it all mean?

Maybe this analogous situation between organic, evolving nature and the abstract, evolving mentality of humanity means that we humans, so new upon the face of the Earth, can benefit from the study of eternal nature.

In fact, I'd say that "happiness" or at least "wisdom," is a consequence of living in harmony with paradigms clearly visible in evolving Nature. Recycling, living simply and within one's means, everyday unostentatious artfulness, a flowing kind of flexibility, evolution... all are features of thing living in Nature sustainably... and of what I reguard as wise, happiness-yielding living strategies by humans. Facebook Icon.