nature ecology grass

Squirrels and Spontaneous Order

If I were designing a world, and I had a moment of sheer genius and came upon the idea of something as magnificent as a forest of great trees, I can’t imagine I ever would have thought of squirrels.

If I decided that, far from being mere wooden statues, the trees would be living, growing, dying, and dropping seeds to propagate future trees.

It seems logical that an entity that served to spread seeds to ensure a fertile growth of future trees should be designed with this sole purpose, and would accomplish it with great efficiency.  I suspect I would think of an entity that felt a sense of responsibility, obligation, mission and purpose to propagate the forest.

But what did the Creator settle on as the keeper of the forest?  A fuzzy little creature that is as unpredictable as it is unlikely to serve any valuable purpose.  Squirrels, frantically scurrying and hopping from branch to branch, seeking nothing but their own ends, entirely unconscious of the need for seeds to be spread, are yet the tool that spreads them and thus perpetuates the beauty and function of the forest.

By seeking only their own, limited, animal self-interest these squirrels are unwittingly stewarding the forest and ensuring the livelihood of squirrels and trees present and future in so doing.  The creator put in them a desire to eat, chase, and play in pursuit of their self-preservation.  He did not put in them reason, nor compassion for the woods, nor a sense of duty to the trees.  He relied on their self-interest to create and result in ends entirely not of their design, but to their and the earth’s mutual advantage.

Why then is it so hard to see this same pattern everywhere we look?  The examples among plants and animals are too numerous to count.  This same pattern exists in the beautiful coordination of human affairs.  Though we are equipped with faculties greater than the squirrel, at bottom we still can do little else but seek our own fulfillment and preservation.  This motivation, if enlightened and not short-sighted, is not bad or something to be overcome.  Indeed, it is by this self-interest that we unwittingly produce benefits to ourselves and all mankind greater than we could imagine or produce if our efforts were more deliberate.

A creator that put in place a substructure that masterfully and effortlessly coordinates the billions of disparate plans of man and animals to our mutual advantage and flourishing is a great creator indeed.  No firm hand is needed to guide, direct, scold or manipulate our actions to what is good for his creation.  Instead we are free to pursue our dreams and allow the invisible hand to make space for them in the universe; to let the wake of our efforts be the very signal and catalyst for the pursuits of others.  The universe not only expands to accommodate our efforts and desires, but the very process of this seeking and accommodation creates a byproduct that aids every other human in their own pursuits.

In peacefully pursuing your desires you are a part of the amazing process of co-creation and coordination.  Markets are not only efficient, but in a way they are the most natural thing in the world.