The hardest lesson

In my life, I have encountered one beast of a lesson. It is this:

Darwin published his book: The Origin of Species.

It sold out very quickly.

One might say that a man like Darwin is of the zeitgeist. As is often the case in human history, there is this strange and mysterious collective unconscious at work. Darwin may have not published his book on the date he did in 1859 if it had not been for Alfred Russell Wallace.

Wallace came to the same conclusion that Darwin did. He wrote to Darwin, sharing his passion for his findings and that letter, above all persuasions from his friends prior, forced Darwin to publish his seminal book.

Darwin was right. I mean he clarified a truth. Evolution isn’t an idea. Or, more precisely, it is not limited to the realm of ideas. It a living thing.

He pissed off a lot of people. No doubt about that. Just look at the popular cartoons of him in that era.

But then read the last paragraph of the first edition of his book and try to argue you are not in the company of greatness and you shall fail.

“There is grandeur in this view of life…whilst this planet has gone cycling…from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

The lesson is that conviction in what matters is more important than anything else: truth above all else. At important moments, that takes a lot of guts. Wallace helped Darwin find his.

© Copyright 2021 Nathan Curry

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