19 September 2008

Town vs Country: Someone has to Kill

My life has been roughly divided between town and country. I am equally confortable in either. Well, that's not entirely true. There's less chance of you being eaten in the country, which makes it a much more relaxing place to be.

Twas not always thus. It took us a while, but we managed to eradicate being eaten by dangerous animals from our "Don't Do" list. We removed the apex predators, because they were eating all our food. So we killed them. Fair enough.

This means, then, that the responsibility for the food chain falls to us. I won't explain how the food chain operates because it would be a fabric woven from assumptions and ignorance. It's simple economics; supply and demand. Animal A eats Animal B which eats Plant C. If there are too few of Animal A, there will be more of Animal B, which means less of Plant C, which means lots of Animal B die from starvation or are eaten by Animal A. Animal Bs numbers decline and it all starts over.

We kill Animal A because Animal A confuses People with Animal B; besides, Animal B is delicious. Therefore, we need to control Animal B and Plant C to ensure that there are enough Animals B to go around.

Sometimes "control" means "kill". Over time, some of these activities have aquired the title of "sport", or "bloodsport". This is where the problem lies. People think of sport as some people running very fast in a circle and whoever doesn't get dizzy and fall over wins. What goes on in the country is not "sport". It is Life and Death. Things are born, they fulfill their purpose, they die or are killed.

The vast majority of people in the First World have never been confronted with Death. It is alien to them. Death is something that happens to other people in far away places. It is not part of their Life, when in fact is an inescapable part. They do not believe that people have any active part to play in the cycle of Life and Death.

They do not think about the process of how food arrives in their mouth. At some point along the line, someone had to kill the cow, or pig, or chicken. Nothing that ends up in the supermarket died of natural causes. So everyone is complicit in Death. You create the demand, you sign the death warrant.

The people who work in the country understand their place. They understand that Death is an integral part of Life. What they do not understand is the reaction and attitude of people who live in cities who cannot understand the countryside.

City dwellers need country dwellers. They need them to give Life and to take it away. What they do not need to do is to question the methods. You can't make an omlete with breaking a few eggs.