An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of September 18, 2011
Written at Mayan Beach Garden Inn 20 km north of Mahahual
on the Yucatán Peninsula's eastern coast just north of the Belize border,
in the state of Quintana Roo, MÉXICO

ANTS ON THE ROAD

So, there's this line of army ants about five ants wide crossing the road. Do I bike over them, squashing a few, or do I stop, pick up the bike, and carry it to the other side? Cars and trucks that barrel down the road certainly don't stop, nor do I when I'm a passenger in a car. If I pick up my bike now but when I'm riding in an ant-squashing car don't stop, aren't I being inconsistent? And since the whole concept of ethical living is based on consistently behaving in agreement with ones morals -- one's beliefs about what's good and bad -- aren't I being immoral by inconsistently applying my pro-ant-life ethical principles?

Having lifted the bike across the ant line and begun peddling down the road, chewing on the possibility of my own immorality, I take up the matter that I don't even recognize the whole system upon which morality is based. I don't accept that things are innately and permanently either good or bad. I believe in evolving relationships, and that there's a seed of "yin" in every "yang," and visa versa. In other words, I go beyond mere immorality, clear into the realm of amorality. I have no morals at all!

Yet, I don't feel any wickeder than the next person. Something powerful and majestic does consistently lead me toward virtuous behavior. Something serves me the way "morals" serve others.

By the end of the road, I'm working on this idea: That maybe I'm guided by my sense of esthetics. Maybe I've been a vegetarian for over 40 years not because I find it immoral to eat flesh, but because to me with my particular background and nervous system eating flesh when I don't have to is just plain ugly. I lead a low-impact lifestyle not because I'm a goody-goody, but because it's beautiful to live simply, beautiful to be away from clutter, and to exist amidst quietness and peace.

But, who knows? It's only for certain that this morning on the white sand road it was beautiful, and I'm glad I didn't squash those ants. Facebook Icon.