The Parachuting Pussycats

Fifty years ago, a malaria outbreak occurred among Borneo’s Dayak people. The World Health Organization came to the rescue. They sprayed the people’s thatch-roofed huts with DDT—and set in motion a life-and-death illustration of the importance of respecting the natural order. The pesticide killed the mosquitoes, but it also killed a parasitic wasp that kept thatch-eating caterpillars under control. The result? People’s roofs began caving in. And then things really got bad. The local geckos feasted on the toxic mosquitoes—and got sick. Cats gorged on sick geckos—and dropped dead. And then, with no cats, the rats began running wild, threatening the people with deadly bubonic plague. The World Health Organization was in a quandary. What unexpected disasters might occur if it now poisoned the rats? Then someone determined that they needed to reintroduce part of the natural order that had collapsed: specifically, cats to eat rats. So one morning, the Dayak people heard the droning of a slow-flying aircraft. Soon the sky was littered with parachutes bearing pussycats to earth. Operation Cat Drop delivered 14,000 felines to Borneo. They hit the ground—feet first, I suppose—and began taking care of the rats. The story of the parachuting pussycats, while funny, makes a serious point. As I write in my new book, The Good Life, there is a natural order to the world. Ecosystems work a certain way. Cycles of nature are unchanging. You don’t grow a tomato plant in a dark closet. No, the physical natural order of the universe is clearly evident, as the World Health Organization bureaucrats discovered when they tampered with it in Borneo. Not only that, but there is also a natural moral order that arises from our learning how to behave within the limits of the physical order. Morality, I argue, is basically choosing to cooperate with nature’s directions. As we do this, we discover a known moral order. The object of life is to live in accordance with that moral order. It’s tragic the way so many people go through life fighting against it. We want to enjoy sex on our terms, not the way we were designed. We end up with dejection, family dysfunction, disease. It’s like planting the tomatoes in a closet. It doesn’t work. It breaks the immutable laws of the universe. I argue in the book that this discernible physical order clearly reveals an intelligent designer. If God designed the physical universe—as the evidence is indicating—isn’t it reasonable that He would teach us to behave in a way that conformed to His created order? Morality is cooperating, remember, with nature’s directions. This is what Christians believe by faith, and as I argue in the book, something we can all observe, that is, the natural order. And we need to help our neighbors understand this: The good life can’t be found when you live in opposition to the natural order, regardless of its moral demands. In the end, the moral demands are the only path to health and happiness. If you don’t believe that, just ask the people of Borneo. They discovered what happens when you tamper with the natural order—and were rescued from mosquitoes, rats, and the World Health Organization bureaucrats by parachuting pussycats.


Chuck Colson


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