On March 13, 2024

Cannot humans do better?


Dear Editor,

Yesterday, March 9, 2024, a small flock of robins arrived here in the Rutland valley, four pairs to be exact. The ground was soggy but bare and they set about scanning the earth for food. 

This morning, the robins are scampering anxiously about, nonplussed by the thick coating of slushy snow. A small group gathers at the base of a large tree where the snow is scantier. 

Other beasts of the field are equally stressed and desperate. A chickadee, a titmouse,  a goldfinch and a junco show up hopefully at the feeding station, which was recharged with black oil sunflower seed and peanut suet two days ago. The bag of seed has been used up in anticipation of spring. Eventually birds will scavenge buds and even tree bark.

Starlings mob the suet basket, squabbling and jostling for position, with more sailing in by the second. 

A squirrel shelters in the dry spot under my car. Another wraps itself around the hanging feeder until I shoo it away. 

Whether these critters survive or die is not Nature’s concern. So what if the robins’ timing was bad? They were responding to the biological imperative to return north for breeding season… and food. They have to take what they can get.

In the fight for survival, Nature is landing a knockout punch this morning. Somehow, some will make it. They have nowhere else to go. Nature is oblivious to their wellbeing. 

But humans are supposed to be different. The success of the human species has been in spite of Nature’s worst. We have gained hegemony from two causes: social collaboration and the year round ability to propagate. 

But now at the quarter-point of the 21st Century, with all our historical knowledge, our life-preserving and life-enhancing technology, too many of us have become like the robins — born with hope, knocked down by the agendas of other, more powerful humans who, like Nature, care not for the collateral damage they inflict while pursuing their own ends. In fact, these potentates blithely celebrate the social Darwinism they enact.

One would think that human beings could do better by each other than Nature does so callously with the hapless beasts of the field.

Julia Purdy,

N. Clarendon

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