"Not only is the universe stranger than what we imagine,
it is stranger than what we can imagine."
Sir Arthur Eddington

The Monoculture of Life


The Cavendish
The Cavendish

The ubiquitous Cavendish may be its downfall. Its asexual reproduction, that essentially clones offspring, is a godsend to fruit marketing departments worldwide. The almost perfect fruit that is instantly recognizable. It is also a godsend for the Fusarium Wilt. The habitat of Fusarium, the ground where the Cavendish flourishes, is immune to human intervention and so it lives in total bliss within that monoculture we cultivate.

Monoculture seems to be what we aspire to or easily identify with. Maybe that is why newborns are so cherished. They have none of the diversity of uniqueness that will infect their later years and serve to offend us. The desire to shield those who just entered this world from, at best, the inconvenience of adverse conditions and affects, is only the beginning. Pride is taken when it is said that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Although the saying is mostly used in a derogatory way, it does apply to all trees in a forest.

The monoculture of life is the glue of strong family ties. It then can expand to friends and communities, states and nations. The apples don’t fall far from the trees. Other cultures, other lands have their own monocultures. Explorations into those other lands are deemed temporary. Our roots remain strong despite the currents that may sweep us to divergent cultures.

All this becomes evident while cruising and traveling. Yes, cruising (living aboard a boat that sails to various destinations) may be considered a monoculture in itself. It does fit the description of a single purpose existence. But other than the physical boat, there is a wide assortment of expectations and experiences that differentiate cruisers. Those differentials range from the weekend explorer to the circumnavigator; from the young couple with very young kids, to those who may not see the next sunrise; from single handers to small groups of friends; from the social butterflies to the independent loners that pass in the night.

Oddly enough, I have noticed that the longer they cruise the less they become identifiable as cruisers. If they hung around foreign cultures long enough they acquired traits of those cultures. What do they like to eat? What slang or odd words do they use? What do they wear? What music do they like? What sports? What politics? The answers reflect the lands they explored.

Ashore, however, the monoculture of life is ever present. After all, most countries are physically defined as being of one culture. Woe to those who counter a nation’s culture. The longevity of a multicultural nation has not been proven and yet a 243-year Great Experiment continues. That experiment tests the theory that monoculture need not be the glue that binds a society together; that the personal preferences of its leaders do not define a monoculture nation; that due process of written laws and institutions, independent of a monoculture, can be the common element used for that goal and be celebrated.


One Nation, Multicultural
One Nation, Multicultural

The Cavendish may be headed for extinction because of its monoculture and another will take its place in the battle with Fusarium Wilt. It is not easy to mass market a product that is not monocultural and so an expedient path to a Banana Republic looms large. The Great Experiment was never promised to be an easy solution to the vulnerabilities of a monoculture. I only hope we don’t slip on a banana peel of expediency traveling the path to our grandchildren’s future. Happy July 4th.