I always think how soggy people like me love most birds and animals and prescribe them behaviour patterns they may not actually have. When Mummy bird flies towards her nest with a load of worms freshly acquired from the supermarket all the little chicks are straining in the nest with their beaks wide open. No generous little bird is saying, “Give Molly the first worm Mum: she’s really hungry”. In fact if Molly falls out of the nest that’s great news because it means more worms for the others. With birds or many animals competition for survival starts with birth so that when chumps like me walk by and say, “Look at those lovely chicks” we are largely misinterpreting the situation.
Nature is largely indifferent to the survival of the individual. It is interested in the survival of the gene pool or DNA but the odd death here or there is not a matter of any concern to the evolutionary cycle. We seem to reside somewhere between the indifference of the planets and the love of our mothers. What makes us different is our ability, among other things, to empathise with people in different situations. To place ourselves in the shoes of another and see the world as they do, at least to a point.
Other species like elephants and whales show some of the same characteristics but I’m not sure of the extent though recent research shows their capacity for empathy is greater than used to be thought. Like you, as I get older, my happiness is bound up in the happiness of my partner, children and friends. What affects them, affects me and possibly vice versa, but the planets remain unmoved by our individual emotional traumas.
Whatever the truth of the matter, in the modern world, it is being clearly demonstrated that we all affect each other economically and environmentally and personally I am affected each day by the people I meet. Which is odd really, because the more we pull back from the everyday the more insignificant our individual needs and actions become. I get rather lost between the contemplation of the indifference of the universe and the needs of myself and those I love.
It is strange then when I read the posts of some people I will never meet, sitting here in the middle of nowhere that I wince and groan as they outline some disaster or dilemma over which I have no influence or control. It is not as if I was short on disasters and dilemmas of my own making. But still it’s true that I am moved by stories I hear from Bloggers or the infamous news. Given my belief in the unwavering indifference of the passing planets this seems a bit strange to me. It is almost as though I believe two different things at once. Mind you, that makes conversation with oneself more interesting