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May 2022

Little darling, it’s been a long, cold lonely winter.” Whomever the Beatles’ George Harrison was singing to, those words resonate in the hearts of gardeners everywhere. Their hearts ache for the day they can get their hands back in the soil. So they dream and they plan for the beauty to come. Hope springs eternal.

Fast forward a few weeks. As lawns start to green and daffodils start to pop, something else makes an appearance. Usually, more than one. It’s the dreaded dandelion, the scourge of every home gardener. They grow in every kind of soil condition, even where nothing else will. They spread quicker than the flu. They’re the nightmare interrupting our dreams. And so the herbicides come out. That weed has got to go.

But there’s more than one thing wrong with this picture: for starters, a dandelion is not a weed. It’s an herb. Its roots—literally and figuratively—trace back to Europe and the Pilgrims. Dandelions are not considered invasive by federal agencies. Truth be told, they have a pretty, mum-like look to them that gives us an early shot of color. Their nectars feed 100 varieties of insect life, including bees, butterflies, and moths, as well as 30 species of wildlife. Hummingbirds use dandelion down to build nests. Dandelions act as a mulch and aerate soils. They are totally edible, make great wines and salads, and even have medicinal qualities. So, we may need to re-think our strategies.

Our attempts to change nature to meet our own desires can have drastic consequences. We were well on our way to wrecking Yellowstone, America’s signature national park. In the 1800s, as settlers moved westward, cattle and sheep replaced bison and elk in the grazing lands. For the several hundred wolves—the area’s apex predator—the new livestock became good eating. Though the area’s Native Americans co-existed with and even revered the wolves, government and private interests decided that the wolves had to go. By the 1930s, the wolves were shot, trapped, and poisoned right out of the park.

But without wolves, Yellowstone’s ecosystem wasn’t the same. With predators now gone, the elk population ballooned to an enormous size. Elks have big appetites, and they fed on the park’s grasses, shrubs, and even trees. For small mammals like rabbits and other rodents, there were no hiding places from coyotes, so their population dwindled. The loss of flowering plants meant that bees could not pollinate. The bird population shrunk because elks had eaten the bushes and trees. Grizzlies lost the red berries they would otherwise eat before hibernation, so their numbers dropped. The rivers and streams took a huge beating as elks, no longer afraid of ambush by wolves, eroded the banks with their hooves. Clear waters became murky. The elk ate the trees that were the beavers’ source of food. With no dams, not only beavers but also fish and otters lost their homes. Yellowstone was hurting.

It all happened because man failed to appreciate that every living thing has a role to play. Lesson learned, in 1995 conservation managers reintroduced 100 wolves into the park. Changes followed. The elk population shrunk to a healthier and more robust size. Grasses, shrubs, and trees reappeared, and with them all the wildlife they once supported. With the elk no longer eager to graze along the waterways, their banks re-formed. Waters became cleaner, not just for the animals but for the humans living downstream. And as for those human, they came to the park in droves to see the wolves, pumping millions of dollars into the local economy. The wolves, once considered unwanted menaces, brought about Yellowstone’s renaissance.

When it comes to human life, Yellowstone’s lesson has been lost on us. Worldwide, government policies and private profiteers have reduced human life to a mere commodity, and even worse, a menace. The population policies of China and India have created huge imbalances between men and women. Respectively, there are 34 and 37 million fewer women than men in those two countries. With 71 million men unable to find a mate, sex trafficking of the vulnerable is guaranteed to rise. And with the population greatly reduced by mandated family planning, who will support the elderly unable to support themselves?

The problems are not restricted to China and India. In our country, we have our own population problems. Our contraception/abortion culture has resulted in the 2019 birth rate of 1.64%, far below the 2.1% replacement rate—the lowest since the government began tracking data in the 1930s. The long-term effects on our economy will be severe.

Worse still will be the impact on our culture, and even our identity. The Biden administration openly claims that abortion is a human right. Unborn babies may be legally killed for any reason, even race, gender, and disability. Think of what the reduction of a race means to a truly diversified society. Or what the reduction of a gender means to the ways we live. Now, think about what it means if there are no disabled. The loss is huge, for the disabled bring out our best—our senses of empathy, compassion, and commitment to help others.

Born or unborn, everyone has a role in God’s ecosystem. Every human life is vital, even those whom we think are not. Dandelions and wolves have their place. So do we.

Paul V. Esposito is a Catholic lawyer who writes on a variety of pro-life topics.  He and his wife Kathy live in Elmhurst, Illinois and have six children.
© Paul V. Esposito 2022.  Culture of Life.  Permission to copy and distribute for pro-life purposes is granted.  Visit us at http://www.the-culture-of-life.com/ and on Facebook.

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