An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of March 17, 2008
Written in the community of 28 de Junio and issued from a ciber 8 kms to the west in
Pujiltic, Chiapas, MÉXICO

ANT BENEATH A LEAF

Ant beneath a leaf

The other day I passed beneath a water-starved Castor plant, looked up, and saw what's shown above.

In the picture an ant is feeding from one of a pair of nectar-secreting glands atop a yellowing leaf's petiole.

As I stood looking I wondered what it felt like being that ant exactly where it was, doing exactly what it was doing.

I tried to imagine being ant size adhering to a translucing, yellow platform amidst converging lines, the blue sky summery-clouded beyond, feeding on musky nectar, my silhouette elegantly etched against my whole immediate world, my own scent-trail and the trials of other scents leading down the petiole, ¿to somewhere better than this?

Such identity-trading exercises are useful. We humans survive only because we're accepted members of an intricate web of interdependent beings. Sometimes we really should reflect on how those other beings are feeling, what they need, and how and why we should share the world with them gladfully.

Other organisms' perspectives are relevant. Humans share 98% of our genetic makeup with chimpanzees, so it's to be assumed that chimps feel a lot like we do, even if we can't understand what they're telling us. If humanity keeps evolving, something later will emerge from us as different from us as we are from chimps, and that new kind of being will "feel" things more complexly than we by about the same degree we "feel" more complexly than chimpanzees. Will that new brainier-than-humans species ever think it worthwhile to reflect on how any lowly human must be feeling?

If they don't, they'll last no longer than we humans will if pretty soon we don't concern ourselves with the feelings and value of other organisms. Facebook Icon.