Loving Monsters
Glenn H. Reynolds reviews David Baron’s new book; The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature. Loved this part:
In the end, of course, people started to be eaten, and the bureaucracy woke up to a degree. There’s lots of interesting stuff in Baron’s book about ecological change, and the folly of seeking "wilderness" without recognizing humanity’s role in nature, but to me the most interesting behavior isn’t the predatory nature of the cougars — which are, after all, predators — but the willful ignorance of human beings. So many were so invested in the notion that by thinking peaceful thoughts they could will into existence a state of peaceful affairs that they ignored the evidence right in front of them, which tended to suggest that cougars were quite happy to eat anything that was juicy, delicious, and unlikely to fight back.
That's why they call 'em... ummm... animals.
This is, as Baron notes, something of a parable — and not merely a parable of man and "nature." One need only look at the treatment of such other topics as crime, terrorism, and warfare to see examples of the same sort of misplaced sentimentality and willful ignorance. Tolerance of criminality leads to more crime; tolerance of terrorism leads to more terrorism; efforts to appear defenseless lead to war. Nonetheless, the same strand of wishful thinking appears: perhaps this time, the cougars won’t want to eat us. Some people, apparently, would rather be dinner than face up to the fact that nature is red in tooth and claw, and that — in this fallen world, at least — the lion lies down with the lamb only after the lamb’s neck is broken.
Posted by: Steve 2003-11-05