PEACE ON EARTH
By Ruth Minshull
The other day I was watching a hummingbird slurping his dinner at the feeder while I ate mine in the dining room. I enjoyed the fact that we were having dinner together so peacefully.
But it was not to last.
Another hummingbird showed up and started dive-bombing the first one. This brought an abrupt end to the peaceful dinner hour. First Guy took off after the intruder and they swirled around over the patio. Then a third bird appeared, and joined the fracas. They all chased one another around for a time, then left. While they never touched or did physical harm, they successfully kept their enemies (and themselves) away from the feeder. Perhaps they were also flinging vile curses at each other in low-volume hummingbird language. Get out of here, you gnat-brained maggot.
I was here first, you worthless wuss.
Don’t call me a wuss, you fugitive from a feather duster…
What’s the matter with them? I wondered. There’s plenty of food; and enough space for all, with four access holes in the feeder. But, obviously, they just don’t play well with others, and they won’t share.
Why can’t they be compatible? Here they are, tiny little creatures, less than four inches long, weighing about one-twelfth of an ounce, and they feel compelled to scrap over who gets to eat. I have read that the males spend most of their time in battle with each other—over territory and feeding areas. The females fight to defend their nests.
I would like to believe that they are happy, shimmering beauties–nature’s works of art–put on earth for the visual pleasure of all.
But, no. They apparently have their own little world full of angst, misery and frustrations.
After a lifetime of observation, I’ve concluded that all living things are hardwired for combat.
We always seem to have one faction of people dedicated to trying to make everybody play “nice,” while all the rest are at war.
It starts out at an early age. If you’ve ever done time in a room with more than one child, you know they don’t come into this life looking for peace. They’ll get into disputes over toys, games, territory or anything. (Mom, he’s looking at me!)
Families scrap among themselves; neighbors clash with one another routinely; schools scuffle against other schools on various playing fields (and sometimes in the street); people unite into groups in order to oppose other groups. And so it goes, right up to nations.
I’m not a history expert, but I doubt there’s ever been a time when there wasn’t a conflict going on somewhere, ranging from petty bickerings to the dropping of hugely destructive bombs.
Now and then attempts are made to resolve differences between two battling factions. Periodically world leaders are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for these efforts. Since the “peace” never seems to last, shouldn’t those winners give the prizes back?
It’s time we face the truth. Wherever there are living beings, there will be wars, conflicts, clashes, skirmishes, disputes and free-for-alls.
I’ll bet that if we examined them closely, we’d find that even tiny amoeba are slugging it out with another species of amoeba over squatting rights within a blob of goo.
Where did we ever get the silly idea that living creatures want peace?
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© 2009 by Ruth Minshull