Bit the Dust
Off the Wall, Aug 1
, 2013

If ever there was a term that is slang in nature, my title has to be one of them. Many people know it as meaning “passed on,” “passed away,” or simply, “died.” My subject today is relevant to all three expressions in a manner of speaking. It has to do with the phrase, “survival of the fittest.”

To my way of thinking and maybe yours, too, that it should refer to “any living creature’ that outlives anything that has a heartbeat, breathes and ingests food of some kind. In my opinion, it just isn’t so. The following examples will explain why.

Joey Moo lived on a cattle farm with his folks, four brothers and two sisters. All worked very hard to make a go of it. The herd existed of 47 animals, all raised to eventually be sold and slaughtered.

One early, June morning a calf was born. The youth took particular interest in it and cared for it day after day. As it aged, he watered, fed and even groomed it as though it was a very special family member. “Blacky,” as he named it, would turn out to be his favorite pet.

When it matured to adult status, one could easily see that Blacky was a standout among the other cattle. His features gave him prize-winning possibilities. So, Joey’s father entered him in several competitions at the county show and won large blue ribbons. In a manner of speaking, it turned out to be the fittest of all. “Wow,” Joey thought. I can take Blacky home and show him off to my friends. He will be the talk among them.

But did Blacky go home? Maybe to heaven (yes, I’m told they are there and one will be reunited with pets when entering the pearly gates), but not back to the cozy barn. If I were Joey, I probably would have felt as though someone just stuck a knife in my heart. “How can anyone take my best friend away from me,” Joey screamed. But it happened, didn’t it? Here was the fittest animal and it didn’t survive. That knocks that expression out of the park! Moving on…

Pete Cotantale loved rabbits. One of his many pleasures was watching them grow into mature, adult animals from very young offspring. They had so much life and played so nicely together, instinctively jumping above each other as they ran circles around each other. It was a pure delight to watch.

While walking home from church one evening, Pete happened to notice a very small rabbit making its way along the sidewalk, running and hopping as a fittest, young animal of its species could hope to be (I suppose animals hope, too). Out of nowhere raced this white cat and took hold of God’s creation and dug its teeth into its flesh, killing it. Was the survival of the fittest apparent here? Doesn’t take a whiz kid to figure that question out.

Grace Fuldanser loved life. She would do anything she could to celebrate its existence including eating properly, walking regularly, and taking part in one of her favorite past time activities – dancing. Oh, did she love to move her hips to music with a beat, particularly the oldies of rock ‘n roll and music of the 40’s. She knew her stuff as anyone watching her could surely see that she was truly enjoying life.

Even in her 80’s, she danced every chance she got. Here was one fit “young” lady. But even so, dear Grace succumbed in her sleep. Why isn’t she alive today? After all, no one was more fit than she was? The answer is simple. From the moment we’re born, we’re on the path to death. As morbid as it sounds, we know not when our days are up.

Sorry Herbert, Spencer, that is. He’s the guy who coined the expression. His explanation is too deep for me to spell out here. In short, according to, “Spencer’s interest in psychology derived from a more fundamental concern which was to establish the universality of natural law. He possessed the idea that everything in the universe could be explained by laws of universal validity.”

There is no evidence that will ever convince me that something fit will outlive another creature. Trying to keep healthy will contribute to longevity. After that, God only knows.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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