The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

And ... world peace!

With all the time I spend on [fill in the game, or hobby, or interest, or other Internet time-waster], I could have brought about world peace.
Really.

Such a common comment, that. And most of us really do seem to want world peace ... or at least media messages do an excellent job at selling us to ourselves as wanting world peace. (Of course, any personal compromise of our own comforts, our own familiar environment in pursuit of that goal would be seen by most of us as ... less than desirable. But I digress.)

Would we be so quick to say it, could we even see what we say as a joke, if we honestly believed it was possible for us to accomplish it?
Two mice fell into a bowl of cream. The first mouse gave up and died right away. The second mouse fought and swam until he churned that cream into butter and he crawled his way out. I am that second mouse.
- Catch Me If You Can
Rats are excellent swimmers, and can keep going for hours. Once they have learned, however, that there is no way they will ever be able to stop swimming, no beach, no laboratory platform to reach: they give up almost at once, long before they have even begun to be tired. If that immediate giving up happens to result in their personal extinction, so be it.

How much of our drive to seek personal entertainment, to fill time at all costs, is actually symptomatic of our own learned personal helplessness in the face of what we believe truly to matter?

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