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Desert Diary


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An idiosyncrasy of the human mind seems to be a propensity for placing people into two antagonistic groups: us and them. This has been a survival mechanism at times. But also there's no doubt whatever that this has led to horrendous slaughter and human degradation. Supposed racial differences such a skin color, hair type, and facial features have long played a part in our desert region—defining us and them, with "us" defined by our particular bonds, whether Anglo, Native American, Hispanic, or other.

Modern science has finally put things into context. It turns out that humans differ very little from one another and that the differences we see are primarily minor adaptations to local conditions. To put things into perspective, all the variations seen among people of the earth are less than those found between two groups of chimpanzees located only a few hundred miles from each other.

As long as we allow "us versus them" to rule, Pogo of cartoon fame was right on: "We have met the enemy and he is us".
pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.