Sunday, July 31, 2011

#212 / The Darwin Awards

The recent and tragic deaths of those three young tourists who decided to wade into a raging and icy river, right above Vernal Fall, in Yosemite National Park, paying no attention to the signs and the barriers that warned of the danger, might qualify for one of this year's Darwin Awards.

The Darwin Awards website commemorates those "who give natural selection a hand by removing themselves from the gene pool..." There are some "funny" stories about human stupidity (like trying to steal copper wire by cutting through high tension lines which are active), but the list really seems more tragic than comic, taken as a whole. The "fun" involved (fun for we survivors, whose stupidities didn't happen to lead to an early death) reeks of schadenfreude, that weird German word that means "to take pleasure from the misfortunes of others."

Unless we do something about it fast, the human race in its entirety will soon be eligible for the ironically-named "Lifetime Achievement Darwin Award" and there won't be many, if any, around to be entertained when that award is announced. "We" are not just individuals, and "our" survival demands that our civilization survive, not just a bunch of individual persons. No tortoise lives without its shell, and we, as humans, are sheltered within our civilization, a world that we have made, and this is the world that our disregard of the world of Nature is putting in peril. We will either live or die together.

Collectively, we do not seem to be paying much attention to the limiting barriers and the warning signs. We, too, and all of us, can be swept over the Falls.

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