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  • Susan Gallagher

The Grass Patch


My office window looks out on a small patch of grass next to the neighbor's pond. Last week I watched a pair of robins fight over that patch for two full days, fluffing out their feathers and sparring for all they were worth.

"Testosterone," I muttered, shaking my head and thanking God I'd been born a woman. So much chest-puffing. "Give it a rest guys, will ya? I'm tired just watching you two."

This battle has purpose of course: the winner lays claim to the grass patch and all the bragging rights contained therein. He'll flaunt this real estate to all the lady robins, thereby upping the odds of passing on his genes this breeding season.

Lately, I've seen a lot of chest-puffing on the nightly news, too. Males everywhere from Washington to Russia to North Korea are stomping around like robins on a grass patch. I wonder how much of this is hormone-driven, and what role testosterone might play on the political stage.

But I also know we humans have shown a remarkable ability to conquer our primal impulses in favor of more civilized society. We don't roam naked and hairy across the Savannah anymore, grunting at each other and fighting over slabs of raw meat. We wear suits and ties; we shave, make cookies, sip wine; we write poetry, microwave popcorn, and sit around in our pajamas watching Netflix. In a sense, we rise above our biology on an hourly basis.

Here's to hoping we can keep that up, for the sake of everybody who shares this little grass patch of a planet we're on.


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