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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Are there too many?

I was going to write a blog post today about how "there are too many..." something-or-other. I liked the phrase, and thought it would make for a strong introduction to the piece. When I think about it, however, I find it hard to say there are too many of anything.

Sure, it would be easy to argue that there are too many wannabe's, poseurs who wrap their self-worth up in the blanket of some pop-culture icon or another. One could make a perfectly valid statement that there are too many smokers, polluting our personal spaces, littering the landscape with bite-sized tidbits of toxic filters (that don't degrade for thousands of years), and driving up health care costs (topical more to Canadians than Americans, although I'm sure the HMOs include smokers when deciding their overall rates, so maybe not). It certainly would be far from far-fetched to declare there are too many people killing each other in the world. I can't imagine anyone would really argue against that.

The thing is, though, is that, in some ways, none of these ideas are wholly valid. Wannabe's help drive the economy, and it's better to have someone with a sense of self-worth, however misdirected, than someone with no self-worth whatsoever. Smokers, too, help the economy (ask any of the struggling tobacco farmers in Southwestern Ontario, where farms that have been in the family for generations are now being forclosed, and no one wants to care, because it's tobacco), and plenty of research into treating the ailments of smokers has its use in other, more worthy fields. Even the whole people-killing-people thing must have some use, in the grand scheme of things -- it's how we evolved, right? I mean, how could ten thousand years of violent history be completely wrong?

Okay, so maybe I'm stretching things a little on that last point -- but you have to admit that the threat of violence, a concern for one's well-being in the face of reaction to one's behaviour, definitely has a moderating effect on society. And if it didn't actually happen once in a while, then the whole homeostatic system would fall apart, a victim of boy-who-cried-wolf syndrome.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, from a logical perspective, it's impossible to make sweeping, generalized statements either for or against anything that cleaves to the realm of humanity. Every story has more sides than even the wackiest coin.

Also, I really like diversity, and if we did away completely with any one thing, the world would be that much less diverse.

And butterflies. I like butterflies too.



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