It’s really hard to know what to say right now. I had a list of potential topics for today’s blog post, ranging from whimsical to technical, but I don’t think this is the time for any of them.
Look, I’m just a guy who thinks it’s fun to lay down in prairies to study and photograph flowers and bugs. That doesn’t give me any kind of qualification to help address major societal issues. Regardless, I do have one plea to anyone who reads this. Please – listen, reflect, and try to understand.
It can sometimes be hard to fathom the reasons people act as they do. That’s especially true when their actions are completely contrary to what you think are sensible or appropriate. But people don’t act randomly. Those who protest against pandemic-related restrictions and those who protest against systemic racism, for example, are both motivated by earnestly-felt emotions; fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, frustration, and others. That they are responding based on honest emotions doesn’t make their actions right or wrong – it just means they have reasons for their actions.
For what it’s worth, here’s an approach I’m taking in response to the world’s current craziness. I’m trying to listen to those with views different from mine. I’m trying to reflect on what motivates them to think and act in the way they do, and in that way understand them better. My hope is that if enough of us do this, we can start conversations about difficult issues that begin by acknowledging how each other feels, and why. That seems more productive than simply dismissing those who think differently from ourselves and trying to shout our views in a louder voice than theirs.
Again, this is not an area of expertise for me; I’m just sharing what I’m trying to do.
Even if my approach doesn’t change society, it’s helpful to me. Watching people act in seemingly illogical ways scares the hell out of me. It makes me feel helpless in an out-of-control world. How do you resolve chaos? Gaining an understanding why people are acting in a certain way gives me hope that an issue can be resolved. Even that small bit of perspective makes me feel better.
During times like this, nature is a kind of anchor for me. I can seek out beauty there, and watch prairie organisms interact with each other in ways that are unrelated to the raging debates of people all around them. In that way, a visit to a prairie is an escape from human society. At the same time, it also gives me a chance to reflect and process events and perspectives – sometimes semi-consciously – in a way that helps me when I resurface into the human world.
I’ll leave you with a series of recent photos that reflect what is happening in the world of prairies right now. I hope they provide you with a little sense of peace; a temporary escape from all that’s happening. Please be safe and well. And if you can, listen, reflect, and try to understand.