In Defense of Parasites and Predators

Those of you who have read the speech by Mark Anthony is William Shakespear’s Julius Cesar will understand if I borrow too heavily. In essence, these are honorable niches to fill. That said, here are a few of the parameters we must understand. Our interactions on and about the Earth’s crust has ramifications. We are managing the planetary resources (Gifts of Creator) mineral, oil and gas resources as well as forested and inundated areas, the species who used to inhabit those niches and the ubiquitous poisoning of the air, water and soils of our life support system, the biosphere. Whether we understand it or not has less bearing on these issues than the fact that we are changing our planet in ways that are unprecedented. Ecologically, geographically and in terms of intra as well as inter-species harmony and sustainability, we have ripped and torn our way through most of the world’s liquid petrified carbon and much of the high quality solid carbon in just a few generations. We are parasitic in the “body” of untapped oils, gas and coal. Unlike parasites,however, humans have no interest in keeping the host alive.

We are asked to believe that it is our right to remove every last BTU, but when the mine plays out, humans always try to walk away and leave their mess behind. This has saddled every community whose mine has run out with deterioration and severe depression. Part of my formative years were spent in the coal region of Pennsylvania. There were “mountains” of sulphide bearing waste rock. This was the non-target bedrock that surrounded or blocked the way to the coal bearing rock. The rivers run orange today from the acid drainage that flows from these areas. They will for centuries. Parasites also, do not leave vast areas of lifeless territory in their wake. On the odd occasion where their hosts do die, they leave a resource base for other forms of life in (or after) their wake.

There is also a maniacal cultural abuse that resounds in the “mining”, or parasitic mode. Think, who will be doing the heavy work? Usually young men who frequently use more alcohol, drugs and prostitutes than the average wage earner. These “markets” thrived in every mining town I have ever been to. The soul scarring aspects of these forms of economic activity are not favorable for this generation, or the next seven either. Expedience rarely makes the best decisions and this is a perfect example.

In my understanding of the world, I call it the Equal Biomass Theory. this theory declaims that when we wide out a species utterly, or even dent it in miniscule ways, the results will act like a buffer to that attack on species. Like an ecological echo, produced with radar, species will be co-opted by the niche in other ways. We extirpated the wolf, but what happened then? We got businessmen, sharks who made their living from mergers and acquisitions. The theory holds that the relative percentages of biomass will exist, although the species may change. Think, if you will, about the massive reduction in soil organisms, the decomposers, micro-invertebrates and much of the algae and fungus that used to be native to the soils. Couch potatoes, leeches and sponges now exist as human beings, just lazing around, living off the labor of others, sucking up resources. What really makes the least sense is that when we shift ecological responsibility for these niche filling activities to humans, replacing the biomass, it skews the system in ways that are like charging a battery. Humans are least likely to live in nature where their very breath feeds trees. In an odd way, we are mining on another level.

Predators are often maligned, but they are usually honorable in their own way as well. Most of the predatory birds were nearly poisoned off, wolves and cougars exist, mostly in isolation and yet we currently allow many cats to prowl in the place of fewer large beasts as was the case before white-man contact. You have heard of people in business called sharks? These people are predators as well. The imperious way that these “new” predators behave is unlike that same behavior played out in nature.  In our civil society, predators kill and kill and kill again, taking far more than the need to survive. Perhaps the quest for the almighty dollar just has replaced hunger as the need to hunt. The divergence from natural organic growth in the quest for the biggest gains in the next quarter are enhancing the flow of energy into the “battery” that I mentioned earlier. This battery may be the dragon whose tail eventually swipes us into oblivion, but if we learn to grow sustainably, take responsibility for our long term effect on Mamma Earth and truly love one another, we can tame the dragon and get her to work with us instead of against us.

The Earth is lifting up more than ever and over larger areas than ever before across the Desert Southwest. People are beginning to die from fungus inhaled during these events. Sadly, those who die are usually pumped full of toxic chemicals and buried in ways that they will never again feed the worms, never host a thriving community of life-giving organisms, never feed the soil. Parasites at least leave something for posterity, even when things go wrong. That is a large part of their honor and valor if you wish. Predators in nature’s playbook are much the same, they kill for survival, not excess, using as much as they need and leaving plenty for others to enjoy as well. If we play by these rules, it can discharge some of the energy that is going into that “battery”. Imagine the destructive, extractive way of human action, unthinkingly trying to fill the niches of both parasite and predator like winding up a rubber band, storing energy that snaps back to create global climatic reverberations. Then realize, that when you heal and placate the organisms that want to share the planet with us, it lets us off the hook. We do not have to fill their niches and we can grow in abundance in ways that cannot be easily entered into a family budget. I reduced my lawn by over half, allowing greater varieties of plants and animals to thrive. My personal nature preserve promotes my own healing as well as the healing the part of the biosphere that immediately surrounds me. We reduce the ecological tension between ourselves and the planet when we taker the time to re-prioritize our lifestyles as well. Walking turns us on to our neighbors in ways that staying in our cars will not. Riding bicycle allows us to reap the benefits of cardio-fitness and aerobic exercise while allowing our breath to get out of our houses as well. Nature only knows reciprocation, cyclic energy flows. Only humans have been able to distort this sensibility and claim that there is value in creating waste that really serves no other species. Everything in nature is a gift, for countless generations through cycling. Humans seem to have deluded themselves by believing that one day, you really can have it all.


Just for fun, I’m adding this because it is truly timeless.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest, —
For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men, —
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honorable man.

In our ambition, let us not make our decisions for expedience, but rather as a sacred purpose, designed to give back at least as much as we take, humbly offering our efforts in service to all. Like Google has said, and the witches before them, Be Not Evil


About otherfishwrap

One of the last of the Baby Boomers, I remember where I was when JFK was shot. Good story. Born during the Cuban Missile Crisis, my life has been spent studying, practicing skills and attitudes that reflect justice and the sanctity of Earth, Air, Fire, Water & Spirit. Trained as an educator, my life has been devoted to cultural development and social justice.
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