Friday, 28 May 2010

Musings Regarding Self-Preservation and Survival of the Species

I was having an interesting discussion with my sister today.  She's in nursing, mostly long-term care facilities thus far.  Of note, when she mentioned her crack patients and wanting to tell them to 'switch to weed for a week because they're too damn skinny right now.'  My response was that it must be a matter of trying to find the most likely solution in a bad situation, and she said that's pretty much what nursing is.  This, among other things led to musing about a general lack of self-preservation in humans to which she said, 'in this world, is that really surprising?'

I have to admit, she's got a point.  When you think about it, a sense of self-preservation is an extension of a sense of survival of the species, something that, based on daily life experiences, is hardly something we as humans need to worry about.  I mean, look around!  We are horribly over-populated, we cover every corner of the globe where human life is even vaguely tenable, and it really doesn't look like we're going to stop any time soon.  It's impossible to feel that the species is on the verge of dying out when crammed over-capacity on a subway train, when walking shoulder to shoulder with strangers in the street, when waiting hours in line to get into a party or trying to find good seats at a movie theatre.  When faced with this in daily life, I think the average person can be forgiven for thinking that, as a species, we're pretty well on top and there's nothing really to worry about.  So what if I die young as a result of drugs/alcohol/pervasive chemicals/cellphone radiation/etc.?  There will always be someone else to take my place.  As far as humans go, plenty more where I came from.

Now the thing is, I have a certain difficulty seriously believing this to be a problem.  I'll admit that probably has more to do with my personal cynicism about most things, and very likely has something to do with the pervasive attitude I just described.  The gods know I don't have a very strong sense of self-preservation myself.  If it seems like more fun than playing it safe, chances are I'll go for it.  Hell, my dearest friendship is based on mutually assured destruction, and really, I wouldn't have it any other way.