Day 70 (26 May): A tail of two wolves
Updated: May 27
Let your niceness flow
A faithful reader of this blog recently pointed out that an awful lot of animals pad across these pages. Today I would like to invite two wolves to say hello. They are here in support of my belief that things are far better than they seem.
I have encountered these wolves before prowling round the internet but I was reminded of them by a reference in ‘HumanKind : A Hopeful History' by the Dutch economist/historian Rutger Bregman. It popped through my letter box this morning thanks to Mr. Bezos.
Revenons à nos loups:
An old man says to his grandson: ‘There’s a fight going on inside me. A terrible fight between two wolves. One is evil - angry, greedy, jealous arrogant and cowardly. The other is good - peaceful, loving, modest, generous, honest and trustworthy.
These two wolves are also fighting within you, and inside every other person too.’
After a moment, the boy asks, ‘Which wolf will win?’
The old man smiles.
‘The one you feed’.
Now I have only just begun reading the Bregman book but it seems to fall in line with one of my favourite recent reads - Steven Pinker’s ‘Better Angels of Our Nature' which
posits that our era is less violent, less cruel and more peaceful than any previous period of human existence. This holds true for all aspects of violence, whether it be in the family, in neighbourhoods or between countries. We are less likely to meet a violent death, or to suffer from violence or cruelty at the hands of others, than people at any previous time in history. Pinker backs this idea up with a trove of hard facts and proofs.
Bregman’s book makes the argument that it is realistic to assume that people are good. The instinct to cooperate rather than compete, trust rather than distrust, has an evolutionary basis that goes right back to the beginning of our species.
Yay! Yay! Yay! Callooh Callay! Take that you miserable doomsayers!
And we can all enhance this effect by feeding the right wolf.
In previous more violent and sickness-ridden centuries were people more stressed and worried at the thought of what their day might hold? Most probably not.
They were not exposed to a constant and unvarying diet of gloom, hate and misery on the TV news, in the papers or on social media. They would have been blissfully ignorant of most of what was going on in the world and certainly not feeling individually guilty for, and scared by, every problem on the planet.
The ‘If it bleeds it leads!’ approach of the media has us imagine that the whole of life is a disaster just waiting to happen. In fact, over the last several decades extreme poverty, child mortality, crime, famine, child labour, victims of war and deaths in natural disasters have all plummeted. Check it out with Mr. Bregman.
And it is not only, or even mainly, the established media which distorts reality. The facility we all have, myself included, to spread our views widely ( I now have more than seven readers) means that vast amounts of trite, unverified, and unscientific nonsense are cast out there.
(Spoiler alert: Bill Gates is not trying to tag you; vaccines protect you and do not kill you; your willy will not fall off if you walk under a 5G tower).
I have included the references for the two books at the bottom of today’s blog so you may investigate for yourselves and, in so doing, confirm that things are pretty damn good, relatively speaking!
But here is my sixpenny worth- and this is my speciality - my statement of the bleeding obvious. Let us stop buying into the misery scenario. Nobody makes us watch the news or read the crap on social media. So let us just stop. Take a glance at the headlines a couple of times a week to make sure the sky hasn't fallen on Chichen Licken's head and leave it at that. It is only making you anxious to no good purpose.
You need not follow up on individual politicians. You know what kind of person goes into politics so why follow all the feigned shock and surprise when they turn out to be less than altruistic and devoid of brains.
If you have friends who are constantly bombarding you with conspiracy theories and unverified nonsense on social media simply 'sleep' them.
Let us complain less and celebrate more.
I hereby undertake to back off from complaining about the world. I undertake to start feeding the loving, modest and generous wolf.
This afternoon I’m going to give it the guinea pigs.
I embrace you, you most joyful and lovely people!
Humankind A Hopeful History - Rutger Bregman
Better Angels of our Nature - Steven Pinker
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