As is well known, wolves are predators that kill and eat their prey. What is less well known is that, in doing so, they give life to whole ecosystems. When wolves were reintroduced into America’s Yellowstone park, the result was a wonderful healing and rebirth. The wolf, it turns out, can not only change landscapes, even redirect the course of rivers, it can also sing beautiful songs – through the birds and insects and other wildlife its presence makes possible. Watch this wonderful short video to see how. It’s the story of an ecological revolution set off by a measly and easily achievable reform.
When I first came across this story it got me wondering. Could there be a political and social equivalent to the wolf? Is there some measly reform we could make that would cascade through society and lead to meaningful and positive societal change? My first thoughts, in keeping with my already existing inclinations, were on libertarian-socialist or Buddhist lines. Perhaps a revival in grassroots political organisation and/or an awakening of the heart among individuals and communities could start the cascade?
Perhaps indeed, but I hadn’t paid close enough attention to my own proposed metaphor. It is a change at the top of the food chain that leads to the “trophic cascade” that heals ecosystems. Perhaps the same might be true in human politico-ecosystems. So, what kind of change at the top of our social and political food chain could lead to a blossoming of political life and intellectual diversity and change the course of the river of history? No one knows, of course. But we’re putting all our chips on red.–Stuart