Stay with me here.
When I was a kid, one of my chores was to round up the cows at milking time. They were creatures of habit, so they’d easily come at the sound of my call, trampling the same grass paths in the pasture. Drones weren’t invented then, but if they were, I imagine they could have flown overhead and seen the trampled-down paths making patterns in the tall grass.
I think of these cow paths a lot because they’re easy to create in your mind. Follow the same logic day after day and it becomes so trampled you can see it from space. Everyone is out to get you. Everyone is out to get you. Everyone is out to get you. See how it works?
For more than a decade, I taught high school biology, which included a heady unit about Charles Darwin and how his observations on board the Beagle gave him the insights he needed to codify the principles of evolution. He watched some birds and noticed they had different kinds of beaks. The ones with better beaks had more babies. They passed the better-beak genes onto the babies, resulting in a bird that was better suited to the environment. Fair.
Darwin wrote extensively about his observations in his 1859 book Origin of Species. Since then, the scientific community has pretty much jettisoned the idea of creationism and worshipped at the altar of competition.
It’s competition that drives evolution. The puppy that drinks the most of its mother’s milk is most likely to survive. The tree that shades out all of the other saplings is most likely to rule the forest. The cactus that can store the most water in the desert will outlast the other desiccated cactuses when a prolonged drought hits.
As humans, we’ve created a cowpath of competition that rules the world. We compete for space and money. We compete for attention and beauty. We compete for power and influence. Oh, and we compete for Olympic medals, World Cup trophies, World Series Pennants, and Super Bowl Rings.
We compete because — according to Darwin — it is the only way to survive.
If you can’t compete, you go extinct. The Dodo bird and the Passenger pigeon could not compete, and where are they now?
Following this logic, any species that is not extinct exists because it is a good competitor.