An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of August 29, 2010
issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort adjoining Chichén Itzá Ruin in
YUCATÁN, MÉXICO

ON THE BEAUTY OF RAISING HELL

The human species became Earth's most dynamic lifeform by outcompeting other species. Our brains enabled us to outthink the species we hunted, and to domesticate other animal and plant species. Our ancestors struggled for dominance aggressively, self-servingly and piteously. Had a race of flower-sniffing, nonviolent vegetarians like me mutated into existence, we wouldn't have lasted long; instantly we'd have succumbed to neighboring clans coveting what we had, and maybe wanting to eat us.

With humanity's evolutionary history, it's amazing that on the average today we're such a docile, peaceable species. Only occasionally, as when we're under stress or experiencing mass hysteria, does our aggressiveness break out.

That's not saying that we're all just waiting to tear one another apart. Our instincts for aggression are strong, but our social programming is stronger. Also, I believe that once the Sixth Miracle of Nature enters one's life -- the Miracle of inspired thinking, feeling and behaving beyond mere instinct-driven impulses -- there's something new in a being's life, maybe something not yet named (unless it's "love-for-all-things"), that's even stronger.

Since we all have this inborn urge to raise hell, it's worth thinking systematically about the matter.

To my mind, hell raising by definition is shocking and disruptive. Therefore, drunken or drug-induced behavior, reckless driving, public cursing -- none of that is hell raising because it's so commonplace and therefore not shocking. Society even gives a wink and a smile to such behaviors through its mass marketing and entertainment.

When Beethoven wrote his Ninth Symphony with that final movement the most stirring and revolutionary in all music history, that was raising hell.

When a spontaneous mutation occurs in a species and a new feature arises to be passed on to future generations, that's Nature raising hell, shockingly and disruptively foregoing the usual step-by-step approach, willing to gamble with life while knowing that probably the mutation will be maladaptive or even lethal, but just possibly it might be something grand.

A form of hell raising that's particularly pretty to me is when somebody challenges and refuses to go along with humanity's comfortable, established but biosphere-shattering and Life-On-Earth-threatening traditions and agreed-on social mindsets and behaviors.

In fact, the most beautiful forms of hell raising are those arising when one thinks and thinks, and feels and feels, and loves and loves, and in doing so gets so mad that he or she actually does something creative and decisive in response. Maybe something like wearing lighter clothing when it's hot, or just putting up with the heat, instead of using an air conditioner.

That's shocking or at least weird to "normal behaving people," and it's certainly disruptive to society's dominant power structures and vested interests, and it really is beautiful. Facebook Icon.