Sunday, June 14, 2009

Trapped By Trash

While explaining why we are where are with garbage in space, columnist Johann Hari writes :

This wall of garbage orbiting us all seems like a symbol of the great dilemmas facing humanity in the twenty-first century. We have become capable of the most stunning technological breakthroughs – but we are sabotaging them by proving ourselves incapable of the most basic forms of self-restraint. At the moment of victory, we regress. The achievements of our frontal lobes are undermined by the backwardness of our adrenal glands.

He is exactly right in that observation. He closes his article with a statement and a question :

Individuals restrain themselves all the time; why can’t we do it collectively?

I don't know if I could agree that individuals restrain themselves all the time. For the most part, people act out of fear of consequences when they are acting alone as individuals. True restraint would require them to act in the same way even when no one was looking, there were no societal norms or law enforcement. It is possible that we are emboldened by numbers when act as a collective and hence don't feel obliged to be restrained in any way. Also, nature is inherently chaotic so perhaps as humans restraint just does not come to us naturally.

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