A recent article in Science News, Nature’s recourse, delves into how plants and animals fight back when mutual arrangements go sour. Here’s a short excerpt…
Nature has a shifty side. Bees cheat flowers. Flowers cheat bees. Fish cheat other fish, and so on. The more biologists look, the more skullduggery turns up.
In this sense, cheating means pretty much what it does among people, says evolutionary biologist Toby Kiers of VU University Amsterdam: One party exploits another, taking more than its fair share or happily reaping benefits without paying the costs. “There is always that one person that orders the most expensive meal on the menu and then insists on splitting the bill evenly,” Kiers says.
Examples of nature’s skullduggery support the view of how an unspoken morality exists in nature and serves the same purpose as codes of ethics do in human culture. Our ethics, and the religions that embody them, are simply emergent properties of more basic phenomena. This suggests that there is zero chance that a righteous ‘peace on earth and good will to all men‘ will ever happen. Personally, I find such a down to earth view relaxing. Any ‘peace on earth ideal’ is plainly a societal hoodwink to help large populations share the same cultural story and find comfort in illusions of hope. That cultural story tells us that we have a God given free will to choose and so are superior to the rest of life on this planet.
Now, I’m not saying there is anything ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ about harboring such ethical ideals or illusions of hope. Believing there is something ‘bad’ about this reality would only evoke a stressful desire to fix the problem and make it all ‘good’. Who needs more stress? Besides, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, as they say. In other words, the human condition may well be worse off due to our desperate desires to improve its condition. Indeed, every solution leaves behind in its wake a series of unforeseen unintended consequences. That’s why I prefer to accept The Problem as the constant and strive to model chapter 64 advice, Therefore the sage desires not to desire, and does not value goods which are hard to come by. As I see it, Solutions are just “goods hard to come by”. Of course, I usually fail and desire for solutions anyway. But hey! No problem, ‘cause that’s merely The Problem.