Monday, November 06, 2006
Birds of a Feather . . .
I took the photograph above in Santa Barbara, California in 2005. I remember being fascinated by the symmetry in the way the seagulls had positioned themselves on the rooftop, and wondering why they did so. After all, why wouldn't at least some of them be facing the other direction?
The simple answer is probably that they were all facing to sea, into the wind, and that it was the most logical thing they could do. Positioned this way, they could see what was happening far out onto the surface of the ocean. And, I'm sure, it is easier to stay upright facing into the wind than turning away from it.
But was that truly the reason why all the birds were facing in the same direction? Or was it simply because the first one landed facing the Pacific, and the rest just followed the leader, so to speak?
I have no idea, of course. I've tried interacting with seagulls, but the most co-operation I was ever able to get from them was to have them take a cheesie or some other titbit from my fingers. Otherwise, they have never appeared to wish to have a dialogue with me. Maybe they think I'm too stupid to interact with, because I ask so many silly questions.
I wonder if seagulls are like humans, in that they simply do what everyone else is doing. Most humans, after all, are followers, not leaders. Someone with a bit of charisma or a bigger gun says "jump," and no-one thinks to ask why. Soon, the behaviour becomes: "But that's the way we have always done it," and that's it. It ain't gonna change after that, baby. We humans are creatures of habit, of conformity, and sometimes independent thinking is just too darn much trouble.
I think of this in light of the American elections tomorrow. The Republicans and the Democrats present basically two sides of the same coin. Their rhetoric is a bit different, some policies are different, but in neither party is there any real respect for the individual. And neither party understands, even in the vaguest terms, the notion of fiscal responsibility.
There are Libertarian candidates everywhere. Why does hardly anyone vote for them? How many people understand Libertarianism, and know the Libertarian platform? Very few. You can count on that. It is simply too much trouble to find out. Don't worry, my American friends, we Canadians are just as lazy and short-sighted. Here, we're stuck with Liberals and Conservatives. There isn't much difference between them either.
I'll be watching closely, but I will be very, very surprised to see anything more than a few legislative seats change hands from one incompetent party to another.