An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of March 18, 2006
written at Hacienda San Juan Lizárraga
one kilometer east of Telchac Pueblo, Yucatán, MÉXICO

IGUANA FIGHTS, MONEY & ENLIGHTENMENT

During the half hour Wiry and Bloody fought (iguana fight detailed here)   I found myself thinking about this question: Why did nature create this species so that males must fight, and subordinate males on the periphery must suffer such frustration?

Of course I knew Darwin's answer, for here I was seeing "survival of the fittest" at work -- evolution being powered by "natural selection." The strongest, most dynamic male would get to pass on his genes to the next generation, while the weaker or less adapted males would not.

Since I am on record as regarding "Nature as Bible" -- as believing that enlightened human behavior should be harmonious with paradigms observable in nature -- one might assume that witnessing this iguana fight convinces me that human competition of all kinds is good. Since the iguana fight was natural, maybe I should champion the highly competitive free market system, and maybe I should even agree with the claim made by many evangelical Christian groups that material wealth is a reward from the Creator for hustling.

There are different levels of interpretation for everything. At one level, two male iguanas fighting over territory and females are indeed like two capitalists competing over resources and customers. On the other hand, fighting iguanas and consequent rewards and punishments are not ends in themselves. They are no more than the means by which the evolutionary process realizes itself through natural selection. Evolution is the greater thing here, with greater implications for my philosophy of life, not fighting. Therefore, what is the way that evolution works telling us?

The only way I can set my teeth into that question is to try to identify trends in the examples of evolution I see around me every day. After all these years of reflecting about the matter, I think I can list at least these three important trends of Earthly evolution:

Viewing my own society from the perspective of these three insights, I find that I must condemn some of its dominant features. For:

Therefore, when I see fighting iguanas I'm reminded of this: That I have a mind and spirit enabling me to aspire to higher meanings and principles than the iguanas do. Facebook Icon.