No. Please. After You

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

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in blog, character, community, creative writing, faith, Life, life2 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to No. Please. After You

  1. Aurora says:

    This reminds me of something I read many years ago about the “connectedness” of humans (no matter the planetary alignments or misalignments). I believe it said that families are all alike no matter the culture or origins. Humanity, so common and yet so rare… nice read, I relate, I think, LOL, Either that or I need sleep more than I thought I did. (kidding) Being moved is part of the “big connect” and if we are not moved, in my opinion, we contribute to the great divide. 🙂


  2. To Love, to care, to empathize knowing that the universe really doesn’t care…is our humanity. I don’t know if you actually believe two different things at once, or if you realize the fact of one yet choose to act on the other.


  3. says:

    Good morning kind blog writer. It’s SO true what you say about your happiness being wrapped up in the people around you. I LOVE the description you used too about the birds fighting for worms. I remember reading in the bible that birds, or was it flowers, don’t worry about where they will get fed. That’s so true.

    I can honestly say NOTHING makes me happier than to watch my two boys when they laugh together. I just can imagine their future. I see how close my sister and I are now and how we fought like cats and dogs when we were little! Somedays I see miracles in the smallest things. In words. In actions. In the boys even giggling.

    Well, thank you for writing an absolutely lovely and inspiring blog.

    Have a wonderful day up north. Here it’s sunny and warm still.



  4. scrambled7 says:

    i love this post so much. Like all your posts.


  5. These are very interesting thoughts. I think the indifference of the universe is a bit of a design flaw (among many). Game Theory (I’m no expert – just a snippet I read a while back) has proven that cooperation between people results in a far better outcome than trying to maximise one’s own good fortune at the expense of another (based on the classic example of the two prisoners, being questioned separately, who both need to decide whether to confess to a crime or not; if only one confesses, the other goes free, but neither knows what the other will do…).

    Your mention of empathy in the animal kingdom also reminded me of Christopher Reid’s poem ‘A Scattering’, in which he writes about how elephants, who come across the bones of other dead elephants, use their trunks to scatter the bones about in some form of ritual. Very mysterious. The poem is part of a collection in which Reid is trying to come to terms with the death of his wife. Here are the final lines:

    Elephants puzzling out
    the anagram of their own anatomy,
    elephants at their abstracted lamentations —
    may their spirit guide me as I place
    my own sad thoughts in new, hopeful arrangements


    • Very interesting reply. I have heard about the co-operation between humans as well. It was an article which posed that man is essentially selfish but recognises he can get more of what he wants by working with people rather than by himeself. It was called “Selfish generosity” or something like that


  6. eof737 says:

    We are all wrapped up in something or someone to some degree… You pay attention and delve in… some don’t… I admire your observant eye. 🙂 Sometimes I wonder about the true value of all that connectedness…


  7. backonmyown says:

    This is a very thoughtful and philosophical post. Yours usually are, that’s why I read. Your last two sentences made me grin. I think it’s part of the human condition to try and figure out these conflicting beliefs we hold. As I’ve mentioned before, I live alone now and am known for talking to myself. This post gives me fodder for conversation. Thanks as always, Ducks.


  8. Larry Lilly says:

    Over 11 years ago I meet my current wife Sam(antha) in a IRC (chat) room. Its really odd since I was living in Oklahoma, the chat room was based in Vancover CA and most of the people in that room were Canadians. To really make things full odd however was that Sam was also in Oklahoma, some 4 hours away from me. The first night, I stummbhle in and Sam was a fill in moderator (sort of an online hostess) I said Hi, she said Hi and what followed can be only described later by each of us as “love at first byte” We brought up the sun the next day before we said goodnight/goodday. When we eventually met in real, it was as if we had known each other forever. So as you point out you can sit there and get all teary eyed reading about something from a place you never will be or a person you will never met, we fell in love long before we ever knew what the other looked like at all.


  9. Jeanna says:

    I love reading your conversations with yourself. 🙂 I love knowing that somewhere else on the planet there is someone pondering about the sames things that have crossed my mental desk. So well written as well, keep it up Ducks!


  10. I know, if I met you in person, I can sit down.. have a cup of tea and have a wonderful discussion with you. You always get my brain going in the morning 🙂


  11. Barbara says:

    In some very mysterious ways I believe we are all connected. Granted there are some major ‘disconnects’ at times that result in things we can barely believe. You are a much more observant traveler in this universe than I. I like that about you. It gives me food for thought.


  12. Kirri White says:

    Your blogs always generate such interesting discussion! Makes me think of Jung’s notion of ‘collective consciousness’.


  13. nelle says:

    Indeed it does. Our minds are a constant chatter, even if our mouths are not. Somewhere in the course of things, the individual gets their due, at least I hope. 😉

    I love to read the doings of others. My writing is built on the experiences in life, centred on distinct populations, but noneheless doings. We tend to tell tales around the dramatic, and drama enthrals us like a flickering flame.


  14. enermazing says:

    “In fact if Molly falls out of the nest that’s great news because it means more worms for the others.”

    Given the context of human society, I know I “shouldn’t” LOL, but I just can’t keep it down to a chuckle or disguise it as a cough. 😀 – And anyway, laughing was always known as a great remedy against fear and horror, tension relief and so forth…


  15. We rarely think about how what we do affects others. We are a selfish, lot–but said it better!

    Nice job, yet again. 🙂


  16. Simone Weil writes about the indifference of the natural world as being the result of kind of mechanical necessity which she says is beautiful. It can’t be other than it is. This makes some sense to me, particularly given that the flip side of human being’s capacity to empathize, of course, is that unlike other animals, we can also carry grudges, seek revenge and hate. But, nonetheless, I’d still pick our freedom and the chance of love.


  17. I second that we all should pick out freedom and the chance of love.


  18. –Ducky,
    Superb Post.
    This reminds me of an article I read once.
    The author said, “When a man in Ethiopia cuts down a tree. When a baby dies from starvation. When a woman in Iran is beaten & raped. We all suffer. This impacts all of us. Never forget that.”
    I love your perspective & wisdom..


  19. hakea says:

    I think about this sometimes, especially as I am a parent and I like to compare human behaviour to animal behaviour.

    If one of my kids were in danger, I would do my utmost to get them out of it. If something should happen to me, it would leave a family without a mother.

    If a lion cub is in danger, mother lion also does her best to protect the youngster. But she does not put herself at unnecessary risk. She has other cubs to look after, their survival depends on her survival, especially as another lioness is unlikely to adopt them.

    Collective cultures talk about the web of life. If one part of the web is disturbed it affects the structure of the whole.

    All things by immortal power
    Near or far
    To each other linked are
    That thou canst not stir a flower
    Without troubling of a star.
    – Francis Thompson


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