Sunday, March 25, 2012


"delicado, delicado, please handle with care . . ."
"Vrooom, vrooom . . ."

Here’s what we ought to do . . .” he said, and I knew I was into yet another monologue on the evils, errors and, yes, remedies for the ills of the world. And while he talked, a germ of a thought began to grow and culminated in a centerpiece for this blog: what if our destinies are governed—not by predestination, fate, or even debate, planning and decision—but by the principles of evolution built into our genes.
               “We ought to raise the price of gasoline to $5.00 per litre,” he was saying, “so that people would actually think twice about buying a humungous pickup truck and settle for a smart car, or something.”
I couldn’t agree more, actually, unless that number were to be $10.00 instead of $5.00. Like so many others, I, too, have a head full of ideas for legislated solutions to developing problems: population control, tidal power, carbon tax, etc., etc.
“It’s not going to happen,” I said.
“Why not?” he replied, “it’s a simple matter, increasing the tax on gasoline to whatever figure you want.”
“Because,” I said, “. . . because the opposition party would immediately promise to roll back the tax if elected, which they would be, and we’d be back to exactly where we are now.”
“So what’s your solution,” he said, “you pessimist?”
“We wait,” I replied. “As oil gets scarcer, the price obviously goes up, eventually to the point where it has the same effect as you’re suggesting and no political party can do anything about it.”
“That’s a pretty sad scenario,” he said.
It is. He’s right, but that’s only if we focus on ourselves—individually—as the relative entities, and not on the herd. How do caribou or snow geese decide when to move and when to stay? They certainly don’t debate, vote and then act. More likely, there appears a need which registers with some or many of them who tentatively make a small gesture toward action. Gradually, the gesture registers with more and more of them—the speed depending on the degree of immediacy and drama in the need—until the collective will is in agreement, at which time the herd collectively stampedes, the flock takes off as a unit.
When the earth quakes or the tsunami strikes, the human herd reacts quickly. When the danger is less immediate (as in global warming) the response follows a slow, flat trajectory. Jump up and down and bleat at the edges of the herd as hard as you will; unless the collective mind is swayed, the herd will graze contentedly (I was going to say, ‘until the cows come home’) until the wolves are actually eating the calves.
Well this is probably overly pessimistic and over-simplified, but I predict that unless global warming actually causes the earth to shake under everybody’s feet, our governments will continue to place economic growth at the very top of every agenda.
Baaa . . ..

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