As I have said before on The Right Way To Be Green, one of the things we do on this blog is learn from Nature. From that you might assume that what you stand to learn in that way has to do with ecology, and you would be right — but only to a degree. Nature can teach us about much more than ecology.

For instance, Nature makes an excellent teacher (one of the best, I believe) on economics, because Nature, more than anything else is a marketplace (link

She makes a great teacher on politics, too — specifically, conservative politics because she, herself, is a conservative. (link)

Another topic Nature can teach us about is peace, as in world peace or peace among nations or peace of any sort. Here’s how:

It is conventional wisdom among ranchers in the American Southwest ranchers that, if there is a dominant male mountain lion whose territory includes all or a significant portion of their ranch, it is in their best interest to leave that lion alone even, if he kills an occasional calf or colt. Experience has taught these ranchers that an alpha lion maintains a sort of peace and order within his territory. Young males stay away because they know that, if they encounter the alpha male within his territory, he will challenge them and quite likely he will win the challenge. Perhaps even kill them.

Contrast this with what happens if the rancher takes offense at having a calf killed by the dominant lion and hunts him down. All of the territory the old lion had ruled and pacified is then open to contest. As such it attracts all the young males in the area to come and vie for ascendancy, to make this their territory. Fighting among themselves, they expend more energy than they would otherwise, make more kills than they would otherwise to acquire that energy, leave kills partially consumed to avoid being attacked while they eat them. In some cases females and kittens even become casualties in this melee.

Experienced ranchers know that, by eliminating the alpha, they inadvertently create exactly what they seek to avoid — more predation, more loss of livestock. By trying to create peace they end up creating more war.

This paradigm, of alpha individuals keeping peace and order among populations of animals, may be the most common form of social structure in Nature. It serves to create an environment in which wolves, elk, hippopotamuses, African lions, baboons, chimpanzees, and on and on and on can attend to the vital business of surviving, replacing themselves, and continuing their kind.

When the alpha individual is removed from any of these populations the result is not peace or the “Peaceable Kingdom” but war, strife, and hardship. The only hope for relief from this anarchy is for another alpha to rise to dominance to install peace and sustain it.

In a preserve in Africa, which managers hoped to repopulate with elephants by reintroducing a number of orphaned males and females from other locations, a number of the young males formed into gangs which began to act in very un-elephant-like ways. Most outrageous of these acts were several instances of attacking, raping, killing, and mutilating adult white rhinoceroses — an endangered species.

Preserve managers were at a loss as to how to deal with this activity until one of them got the idea to import some adult bull elephants and see if that worked. It did. No one knows how the “word” got out to the young males. There was no obvious disciplining of the gang members, but, when the alpha social structure was restored, the young bulls stopped acting like mobsters and began acting like elephants, and stopped killing rhinos.

Considerint that, who do you believe Nature would call an advocate for peace?

Those on the right who would sustain the U. S. as alpha — as the established lion/adult bull whose power and mere presence causes lesser powers to defer and keep a low profile in order to avoid triggering a response?

Or would Nature dub as “peacemakers” liberals, such as Barack Obama, who apologize for America’s exceptionalism and seek to abdicate our position as the world’s alpha. As Obama dissembles the U. S. position as the only superpower what we see happening is exactly what Nature has told us would happen. Encouraged, as were the elephant gangs in Africa, by the lack of an alpha presence humans have been forming gangs and taking political initiative around the world. After instances of violence in the U. K., Greece, France, India, etc, etc, an eruption in Tahrir Square overthrew the Egyptian Government and demonstrated the virulence of this phenomenon with, among other things, the rape of American journalist Lara Logan. Then came more of the same with the gang takeover of Libya and the brutal torture, rape, and murder of the just as murderous dictator Muammar Ghaddafi, all with the expressed support of our president Obama.

Here in the U. S., the gang phenomenon has taken form in the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. These occupiers demand the elimination of alpha-ness altogether via the redistribution of wealth and power (redistributed, of course, by them). This, they claim is the way to fairness, love, peace, prosperity, environmental sustainability, you name it. However, as the occupations drag on and rage and impatience grows, reports of rape, theft, and violence mount as this movement goes the way of all such movements.

What can Nature teach us about all of this? She is can teach us that the alpha way to peace practiced by dominant lions, adult bull elephants (and even a super power U. S.} works. Nature has developed, tested, fine-tuned, and applied this lesson via millions of years of evolution, adaptation, and trial and error.

Via that same educational process, Nature teaches us that removing the alpha inevitably results in chaos and strife that can only be relieved by the ascension of a new alpha… and that trading the old lion for a new one can have its downside.

Consider what this means if the world trades the U. S. as alpha for whatever will take its place. What kind of alpha has the U. S. been? When the Archbishop of Canterbury asked Colin Powell if our war with Iraq was just another example of U. S. empire building Powell replied, “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”

How many other nations in the history of this planet can say that?

Without the U. S. who will ascend to alpha-ness? A resurgent Russia? Communist China? A nuclear North Korea? A sharia-enforcing Islamist Caliphate?

How sure a path to peace is that?


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