When I hear the word “sucker,” I think of the plum tree in my garden, which sends out little shoots and leaves in a circle around itself, pushing up dozens of baby sprouts everywhere in an effort to reproduce. Many-a plant species uses this suckering strategy, especially when under stress, often cramping up in a tangle of itself so dense that it can choke out its own sunlight and compete with itself for soil resources, making it difficult for any individual in the thicket to thrive.
This behavior reminds me of the frenzied and almost automated reproduction of the human race in the last few thousand—and especially the last few hundred—years. Despite our rapidly declining physical, mental, and spiritual health, we just keep on multiplying.
Or maybe it’s really because of our rapidly declining health that our population is exploding?
There’s a sucker born every minute.
Perhaps we (accurately or inaccurately) sense an impending doom and we whirl around in some preset breeding fit that only increases the pressure on the family, the community, the larger ecology. This downward spiral then involves even more suckers to respond to the stress, along with decreasing regard for the vigor or sanity of our offspring.
And then, of course, there is the other sense of the word sucker, which also happens to line up quite well with modern behaviors: someone desperate, someone gullible, someone willing to accept almost any imitation as reality. Confronted with the firepower of an increasingly exploitative and and pathetically fake society, our habitual response is to paddle around our polluted little pond faster and faster with our brood. As the big guns take aim, the chemicals rot our feathers, and we become the proverbial sitting ducks.
But there are other responses to stress besides suckering. Like the fabled Ugly Duckling, it is time for us to find the place where we truly belong, a beautiful place that involves real sustenance for people and planet both. Not to mention that human beings are (supposedly) a heckuvalot smarter than ducks. It is possible to slow our pace and actually give our children what they need, even if its something we never got ourselves. We can insert some creativity into our tired old procreative fantasies.
Like all other life on Earth, humans do have to reproduce if we are to continue here. Strict abstinence strategies amount to little more than suicide.
The real question is: reproduce what?
It seems less and less wise to invest the future of humanity in a generation of record-breakingly sick, traumatized and bullied children. Plus a growing epidemic of fertility problems is rapidly chopping away at the colossal numbers we are capable of replicating.
Can we make an attempt to tune-out the roaring industrial propaganda—including brainwashing and guilt-trips about over-population, food pyramids, material success, academic achievement, obedience, manners, and discipline–and listen for the instinctual voice that still knows the root of what our children need? Nourishing food, loving arms, clean air, water & soil, strong family and community ties. These have always been the basis of what humans need to thrive. Maybe if we took care of these basics, we would naturally figure out how to keep our numbers in the range that our ecosystems can support, a homeostasis we achieved for 99% of human existence and lost only a blink ago.
If we can focus on raising a few truly healthy children, maybe when they grow up, they won’t be such suckers.