Consciousness & happiness

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Death, according to George Wald (1970)

"It’s rather odd that we regard mass suicide on the part of lemmings as an aberration, as a kind of psychopathic behavior; whereas our way of dealing with the same problem [too little food] is considered normal. Where the lemmings go off to die, we go off to kill; for it’s equally true for the human migrants that there is no other place for them. Every place is occupied. Have you ever heard of people migrating to a place fit to live where there were no people before? There are always people. If the migration ends in a colonization, that’s through conquest. It is strange that we look on that as normal and proper, whereas the lemmings seem to be doing something aberrant; for biologically there is much to be said for the way lemmings go about it.

"On the one hand, the way the lemmings do it, there is a minimum of dying. As soon as enough lemmings have left the center of population, there is enough food for those that remain, so the migration automatically stops. Second, there is no destruction. The lemmings’ home territory is just as good as it ever was. Third, and whenever I say this I shudder, since I can’t jump over my shadow, but a selection process is at work. It’s the hungriest lemmings that go off to die; the ones that are doing better stay home. Whereas in the human way of doing things, we pick the flower of our manhood to go off to kill and die. The lemmings are exercising better biology."

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