Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Darwin says . . . .

I'm reminded of an elegant quote written by Charles Darwin in his Origin of Species, which is posted in large font on a wall as you exit the museum exhibition, "Darwin." In sum, it stands as a clear expression of how his theory of evolution by natural selection units all of Earth's great diversity, including mankind. I think it's both beautiful and profound:

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. . . . There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

Reading this quote, I for a brief while felt enlivened by its universalistic meaning and became hopeful. However, that changed quickly when I watched the news last night and saw the horrific ethnic fighting in Australia. I, like everyone I imagine, was shocked and hurt by the senseless violence that I witnessed on television. Indeed, we're all from the same source and made of the same stellar "stuff" (the dust of exploded stars) and yet we still let our insignificant differences divide us.

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