Naïve Animals

The OED has recently announced that they will remove the words naïve and gullible from the dictionary. What a terrible joke. I would not at all be surprised if you were to click away in disgust. However the lame introduction disguises a very insightful post. Don’t believe me? Read on.

We have all heard about the plight of the dodo, the bird made famous by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The dodo was a flightless bird native to the Mauritius island. It fed primarily on fruits and nested on ground. They had no reason to fly or to climb trees for they had no natural predators. Fear as a concept, as a way of life, as an instinct simply did not exist for this creature. That was why early explorers found it so ridiculously easy to kill these birds, they simply did not view humans as threats at all even though we were wielding muskets and swords and spoons. The ultimate irony though was that early explorers did not even like the taste of dodos (unlike the frustratingly delicious Galápagos tortoise), they were foul-tasting creatures which were hunted for no apparent reason other than they were very easy to kill.

This story is not unique to the dodo, countless other animals have met the same grisly end as the dodo. I guess I could rattle on about the destructive nature or capabilities of man and lament our feckless attitude towards nature but I won’t. What I find very interesting about this story is that there existed on earth a utopia where fear did not exist. The dodo did not need to fear for its life before the arrival of human explorers. I imagine what happened was that the ancestors of the dodo flew from some neighbouring islands onto the Mauritius and settled there due to the abundance of fruit and lack of predators. As decades or centuries went by the birds lost the need for flight because no one was chasing them. With that they began to lay eggs on the ground because no animal would eat them. They lived in an isolated bubble where they had nothing to fear. In an age where scare mongering is all around us I can’t help but smile and enjoy the idea of a paradise where fear does not exist.

Sure if we were to be pragmatic fear is a very useful mechanism for survival. It is fear that prevents me from poking feral lions with sticks (along with the logistical barrier of me being in Asia).  The cynic amongst us may say that if the dodo possessed a small dose of fear, they may be hanging around in the wild, in our zoos and not just in museums as stuffed animals. These concerns still do not take away the beauty of a place where fear does not need to exist. It is very tragic that so many of us live our days gripped in fear – we are afraid of the food that we eat, we are constantly afraid of the economy (I can’t for my life remember a single piece of good news about the global economy since forever, do they ever report good news?) and we are afraid of spiders. Why and what for? Fear is an unpleasant feeling. Why are we maintaining this unpleasant feeling indefinitely for something that may or may not happen? It seems like a Sisyphean task, you can’t beat fear. You can’t escape from it until the thing you are afraid of happens to you. And then what? More fear? Fear that it will happen again?

So what was the point of the above? I don’t know. How to conclude? I do know. I started this post with a bad joke, I think it would be quite fitting if I end with another. So, what is the point of rhetorical questions?

This entry was posted in Musing, Nature, Philosophical, Random and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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