Evolution and Risk

Mon, 08/13/2012 - 13:14 — Compost Stu

Sitting here on my concrete pedestal, my stone throne, I ponder the process of our own evolution. Like yin and yang, it ebbs and flows, evolving then devolving but forever moving forward (a bit like the compost beneath me). Even the yawning Sphinx in the east is vulnerable to the onslaught of time, as the molten core pushes forth another somewhere. Is our planet evolving? Are we?
Here and now, our own little Nth Coast, I like to think so, western society as a whole, probably not. One of the great forces behind evolution, the capacity to adapt, and the necessary risk taking behaviours that drive it, is under threat. The plethora of reactive planning responses to the human condition has driven risk taking onto the back foot. Looking around me I can see things that took considerable risk to achieve. Leaping around with no safety harness bolting the purlins down on my shed, trying new building techniques with materials foreign to most builders and the list goes on. The process of evolving robustly requires these risks and many more. OH& S overkill has resulted in procedures and training supplanting common sense and logic, not to mention the massive cost of having OH&S workers outnumbering actual workers in some instances (this is a large part of the price hikes in the cost of electricity poles and wires). Kids are not walking / riding to school anymore, not playing as many active games. Inconsequential risks such as those that are taken whilst playing computer games are supplanting reality. Boys will wear the brunt of these changes. Boys need to take risks for their own personal development / coming of age. If society bans legal risks, then illegal ones will prosper. As our younger generation grows, which of them will take the risks needed to try out new ideas, invest money into new innovation? There are none so much alive as those that have faced their own mortality.
The difficult question is how to reverse the situation and let our evolutionary process of its short leash. Western society has become preoccupied with safety. The root cause is probably our lack of confidence that life (or salvation) exists after death. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the rise of spiritual apathy occurs as our OH&S laws preserve at least the quantity of our lives. Insurance companies have taken over the traditional role of the church, and are charging a lot more for the service. They are also the driving force behind overkill OH&S laws, as they stand to profit most from less risk taking. Remember their outcry when planking ( a good bit of fun) started happening in the workplace.
I think we would be a happier lot if we placed a little more priority on quality of life, and a little less on quantity.

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