We’re in another internet dead zone so you are stuck with just my words.

When we first moved out here we were besieged by yellow jackets. I mean seriously besieged. We bought one of those pheremone bait traps and emptied it like 3 times. They were just obnoxious. One evening while we were sitting on the deck Don asked – because for some unknown reason he thinks I know stuff like this – “What purpose do yellow jackets serve?”

What purpose?

I told him I didn’t know because I didn’t. I know now that yellow jackets are carrion eaters and often clean up bee carcases, etc. They also eat some caterpillars and beetle larvae.

But still, is that a “purpose”? Can a yellow jacket have a purpose?

Still a year later I am thinking about this question. And at the end of that year I think it is too dangerous to ask if the yellow jacket serves any purpose. We can look at it’s activites and effects on the world around it and say that they are beneficial to us but that is not the same thing as purpose. And more importantly it is too human centric and emotional.

Purpose has connotations of meaning and intention. To say that the yellow jacket intended to evolve in the way it did violates the way evolution works. And to say that the yellow jacket was created to fill a need supposes a human world view as the benchmark of existence.

There is no “purpose” as we define it in the natural world. There is only opportunity and constant balancing. The yellow jacket disposes of dead flesh not because there was a need for it but because there was an opportunity to flourish.

Like the great I Am, the yellow jacket just is. It fills one of a billion niches in our small biosphere only because it can fill that niche.

I’m okay with that. I dread the day I decide that something shouldn’t exist because I can’t discern it’s purpose.

Of course all of this rumination could be just the after effects of selling my old Ford tractor today. It went to a good home with another old man chasing nostalgia.

2 thoughts on “Roundabout

  1. allotmentliz

    Very eloquently put! Many years ago, in a biology class in college I had to interrupt the teacher to ask why flies do what they do. They’re annoying and fly, in what seems, a very erratic way. After half an hour debating flies, we decided they just are! I much prefer your reasoning 🙂 My mind is finally at rest!

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