• Posted: May 17, 2009 12:07:11
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What do you say to someone after you explain to them they can not have or do what they want because the general welfare of everyone will be undermined if they do, and they say in return: "That's OK. At least, that guy over there won't get ahead."??
It's a clear case of short-sighted egocentric zero-sum game cut off your nose to spite your face thinking, but are such thoughts irrational? Or, is there a well founded basis for such stubborn individuality in nature?
Across species, individuals are the carriers of variations in genotype. Depending upon environmental conditions, some variations prove advantageous. They either open up new directions for niche exploitation, or they provide adaptive advantage to changing conditions such as temperature fluctuation or drought.
Different modes of thinking likely also provide selective advantage or disadvantage. While it can be exceedingly frustrating to argue with some folks the merits or pitfalls of a specific mode of thinking, pointing out "the general welfare of everyone would be better served" might not be exactly true. In fact, the vitality of our species as a whole might best be served by encouraging eccentric souls striking out in new directions. At the same time, it could also prove tragically unwise for a significant portion of our number to blithely follow. For most individuals, and in many cases for the species, huddling toward the middle ground probably is the best strategy for survival. Outlying positions can work well for a few, more rarely for the many. True leadership finds way to viability for the many.
How can public policy, how can our culture, honor and respect the potential of eccentric thinking and its consequent eccentric behavior without risking erosion of familiar middle ground health and vitality? It's a question, I think, all sides would do well to ponder. Quashing innovation is most certainly a formula for extinction.
Tuesday, May 8th, 2007
18.3 mm 87 mm