Sunday, April 19, 2009

BYBS: Symbiosis

Symbiosis usually describes a situation where organsims of different species coexist for mutual benefit. For example, bees and flowers: the bee gets food and the flower gets pollination.

At least according to Wikipedia, this is actually a "mutualistic" relationship. At one end of the spectrum is parasitism, where one participant benefits and the other is harmed. The next step in the range is "commensilism" where one of the participants benefits and the other is not harmed, but does not benefit either. The other end of the spectrum is mutualism, where both participants benefit.

The interesting thing is that these relationships can change as time goes on. A relationship that starts out as parasitistic can evolve into one that is at least commensalistic and from there to one that benefits both partners.

There are many species of bacteria that when allowed into our digestive systems can become parasites. But other organisms that may have once been parasites have changed so that what currently lives more or less without trouble that we see today. There is even evidence that such "guests" may supply vitamin K. One possible explaination for the appendix was that it provided an area for "friendly" strains of gut flora to stay while the digestive tract is purged due to diseases such as choloera.

I find this ability to change from parasite to partner encouraging when I look at problems that we face with groups of people that are currently hostile to one another. If things in the natural world can change from fierce enemies to fast friends, then maybe there is reason to hope that various groups can eventually work out their differences.

Our wars and conflicts are nothing when compared to all out and total war that is often seen in the natural world. If they can make peace, then how hard can it be for us, whose conflicts are so much simpler.


PERBS said...

Well, it will never happen because weare sinful creatures whereas the plants and animals jsut have instincts. . . but what a wonderful world it would be IF we could all get along.

Whatever said...

I guess we'll just have to disagree then. I think there are plenty of flaws and problems in the human condition that make an achievement like peace difficult, but I don't think they are insurmountable.

I also don't think we agree on the nature of of the human condition --- I don't believe in what I think you mean when you say "sin," but that's another issue.

PERBS said...

We can agree to disagree.

Whatever said...

Agreeably :-)

stev said...

I can see the banners & slogans now going "Symbiosis for peace!" ;)

Still it's more than an interesting notion & i too believe that peace is attainable