An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
of June 30, 2008
issued from the woods just east of Natchez, Mississippi, USA


The Butterfly Weed spoken of above occupied the very top of a high roadcut. Because the population was so healthy, I wondered why there weren't other bunches, either on the roadcut below or farther up and down the highway. As I was photographing the plant an old fellow came down the highway on his tractor and when he got even with me he provided my answer. With a resounding whoosh he let loose a powerful burst of herbicide spray dousing the entire opposite roadside, and he kept spraying until he was out of sight.

Especially because the fellow had returned my nod and smile with a scowl and no greeting, I suspect that this spraying was more a socio-political statement than a reflection of the man's need to kill roadside plants. I'm well acquainted with a certain opinion around here, at least among some older white people, that any bearded man in shorts and riding a bike while wearing a backpack must be a godless communist threat to Western civilization needing to be harassed any way possible.

Later as I biked down the highway I thought a good bit about why Nature would evolve humanity of this ilk. By the time I'd reached my camp I'd come up with a surprising notion. The way I figure it, during the course of human evolution this kind of bonehead was needed, and today the human species remains genetically programmed to keep producing a certain number of them.

Such ethnocentric, socially conservative folks as this man were necessary during human evolution because humans as a group are always coming up with good- sounding ideas that cause enormous trouble if they're really implemented. At least in the past, most new ideas probably were bad ones, else they'd already have been implemented. Humanity has needed people who automatically opposed everything new or different without at least a lot of debate on the subject.

But, thing is, life is very different now from the way it was during those millions of years during which humanity evolved. Now conditions for Life on Earth are evolving so rapidly that unthinking resistance to all forms of change and otherness may have reached a tipping point where it's more of a negative influence on the possibility of long-term survival than a positive one.

Taking all this into consideration, my personal opinion is that conservative boneheads should be given free reign to go on talk radio and to drive their families and neighbors nuts, but something should be done to keep them away from herbicides and other ecosystem-destroying agents. Facebook Icon.