Wednesday, 4 September 2013


I was recently part of a lunchtime conversation where in the space of a few minutes those assembled had decided that seagulls, deer and badgers 'needed' to be culled because there were too many.  I made a comment something along the lines of 'much like humans, then'.  

There was nervous laughter.  

According to the lunchers' logic, there are too many of these species (seagulls, badgers and deer) which means their population is too large to be sustained (although I'm not aware of being over-run by any of those species. In fact on a day to day basis, I may see/ hear a couple of sea gulls, one dead badger, no deer [unless I'm out walking in the forest or driving and they happen to cross my path - but that's a rare occurrence] whereas, I come across literally dozens of humans every day - thousands if I'm in a city!). 

I refrained from further comment since I had already been labelled a do-gooder - although why doing good should be construed as a bad thing, is beyond me.  (As an aside it's an interesting observation that the word 'do-gooder' has become a snide insult. On some level the actions of a do-gooder are recognised as being 'good' i.e. beneficial, but when their actions do not ally with the requirements of a convenient way of living, then they are derided and scorned and ridiculed - such dissonance!) 

Anyway, the case put forward for these species needing to be culled went like this:

Seagulls - there are too many of them and they take food out of the hands of humans.  Seriously.  That was the reasoning.  Personally, I find it funny when a seagull does that - someone's sitting by the sea troughing down their greasy fish and chips and a seagull swoops down and nicks a chip. I love their audacity and daring and the comic look on the face of she/he who has a chip nicked.

(A little side story here:  very recently we were having lunch outside at a pub by the sea and had put a piece of ham on the wall next to where we were sitting because of the wasps that kept settling on it anyway, so we thought to entice them away. Also on that wall were two Jack Russells.  Suddenly a seagull flew in and landed in order to take the ham.  One of the dogs was immediately alerted and and stood staring at the seagull and then started advancing (this Jack Russell was barely bigger than the seagull, but that's Jack Russell's for you).  The seagull looked a bit nervous, thought better of it and then flew off.  We added some bread to the ham on the wall and watched the seagull as it circled the patio and food.  The skill and precision in its flying was fabulous to watch.  It never got up the courage to land again and take the bounty and eventually it got bored and left.

Perhaps this particular seagull wasn't as bold as the seagulls that my lunchtime friends had encountered or perhaps it was the dogs that it was really scared of - whilst a few shrieking humans wouldn't put it off.

So, seagulls need to be culled because they sometimes take food from humans.  That's a bit like the recent view that we should bomb Syrians to stop Syrians killing Syrians.  Same line of thinking, really.

O.K. - so the next species that we need to cull are badgers. From what I understand, this is because badgers have and spread TB to cows and then farmers lose money.  So, essentially, it's a financial thing - badgers may interfere with the income of farmers.

The third species is deer.  Apparently, they're way too successful as a breed and eat too much ... forest, woods, grass - whatever deer eat.  So we need to control their numbers.  I really can't see the logic in this one (I can't with the other two either, but at least I can see that people make the connection between 'they take our stuff, so we need to get rid of them' in the case of seagulls and badgers).  But in the case of deer, they don't even get in the way of humans, don't take food from us and don't spread disease to cows owned by farmers.  But in our megalomaniacal way of needing to control everything and see it as a resource owned by us, we seem to think that we know the best way that a forest or wood or meadow should be.  And that in order to do that we should 'manage' these areas and control the population of each species.  Where on earth will this kind of thinking lead?  Are we going to end up having to manage everything?  The ants and the worms and the fungi and the flies and the dragon-flies and the spiders and the foxes and the flowers and grasses and rivers and streams and clouds and heathers and wasps and bees - to name but an infitessimally tiny, tiny portion of the 'natural' world.  How could we possibly do this?  What kind of status quo would we be aiming for?  Who would decide?  How would they know?  Are they able to see the entire picture?  Of course not - no-one can see the entire picture.

But we think we do.  Because we think we have a right to. We actually believe that we know best.  We really do.  And so this belief in our unassailable position of knowing 'how things should be' means that we're entitled to do ..... well, whatever we want, really.  Merely because we can.

That belief in entitlement is such a big thing.  It's huge.

It gives us the reason to believe that we can kill anything we want for the most spurious reasons.  The underlying reasoning being that we are the most important, superior, entitled species on earth.  We own it all.  We have a right to control, and cull, and use.  However we want, whenever we want.

And if you express an opinion counter to that belief, then you're a do-gooder.  A woolly-liberal-leftie who thinks that it's ok to let things take their natural order. 

I don't see what's wrong with that.  And I'm not actually saying that it's wrong per se for humans to kill and control. We're just as much a part of the natural world as badgers and deer and seagulls and forests and woods and farmers and cows and profits and wars.  I get that.  Life makes us in the same way it makes everything else.  It just does.

So, no, wanting to kill badgers and seagulls and deer because they cause us inconvenience and because this inconvenience gives us a belief in our entitlement to do so isn't wrong.  It's just stupid.  Because if you continue in that line of thinking then you'd certainly have to cull humans for their over-population, because they spread disease and take from other humans and other species.

Oh, wait.  Yup.  Of course, we already do cull humans. Every day, in so many awful ways.  In deed and in thought. And at the very base of this culling isn't greed, isn't hate - it's a basic belief in ENTITLEMENT.  Writ large and surrounded by lights - the basis of everything we do.  If you don't believe me, next time someone gets upset about something have a look to see why they're upset.  I bet your sweet bippy it's because their entitlement was thwarted - usually by someone's else's entitlement!

Somewhere along the line we took on the idea that humans as a species have a right to do exactly as they want, as they see fit.  That somehow we ought to fix things so that they fit our limited viewpoint - because we don't see that viewpoint as limited - we see it as the one true viewpoint, the correct way of looking at the world.

Maybe this way of looking at the world arose with religion or maybe religion arose from the viewpoint that we have a right, an entitlement to do as we wish.  And again, it's not wrong - it's the way we are.  But it is stupid.  It is insane - literally meaning unhealthy (in = not, sane = healthy).  Because if we follow this belief in entitlement we'll end up destroying everything that we believe causes us inconvenience, everything that we believe doesn't fit in with our way of 'how things should be'.  So, we'll continue to cull badgers, deer and seagulls.  And we'll continue to kill other races of people to stop them from killing themselves.  We'll go on taking what we want in order to make things we don't need, can't afford and which never make us happy.

Why?  I don't know.  Not for sure.  None of us do.  Not really. We're all experts in 'making it up as we go along'.

And we do that cos that's how we're made.  It doesn't make it right. It doesn't make it wrong.  But it does make it stupid if we want to continue to survive.  Because, we'll end up self-culling, which isn't good or bad - it will just be the natural order of things.  Ironic, really, that the natural order may end up in our own extinction - the one thing we won't be able to control because of our excessive and addictive need for our belief in our entitlement to control!

But, I think I'll keep that view to myself at any future lunchtime discussions.....

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