I think Charles Darwin is sort of like Bilbo Baggins.
I didn’t really have that thought until today, when I saw The Hobbit, but I drew the similarity because Charles Darwin was originally very comfortable, and young, and could have been set for life without doing anything differently, but instead, he chose to set out on an epic 5 year journey on the Beagle, where he saw things undreamed of, and changed the whole direction of his life.
Anyway, I spent Christmas sort of pondering how there isn’t much generosity in nature (Nature, red in tooth and claw). A quote from Chapter 3 of The Origin of Species: “Owing to this struggle for life, any variation, however slight and from whatever cause proceeding, if it be in any degree profitable to an individual of any species, in its infinitely complex relationship to other organic beings and to external nature, will tend to the preservation of that individual, and will generally be inherited by its offspring.”
Basically, life is already so hard, survival is already so difficult, that only traits that help us survive will be passed on. Really it seems like there is no space for generosity or kindness. And yet, sometimes random acts of kindness win out anyway.
Off the coast of South Africa, a Southern Right whale mama adopted an orphaned calf. She already had one baby of her own, who was nursing, but now she has two.
Photos courtesy of the article cited below, from “African Wings”
Having a whale baby is not easy, in fact, it’s really really hard. It’s a full time job. Having two whale babies is almost unheard of, because one takes up all your time, and two takes up more energy/milk/time than even exists. Plus, adoption in nature is not very common. Why waste energy passing on someone else’s genes?
But in this case, Mama right whale has taken the orphan under her fin, using her precious resources to give a calf a chance.
So Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, good and generosity exists in the world. It is a desirable, necessary, amazing trait. Pass it on.