Monday, May 18, 2009
This blog post was inspired by Trevor Sargent's speech in Clonakilty today at the talk on the Climate Neutral Network. His mention of the phrase "Survival of the Fittest" reminded me of when I had been picked up for attributing this to Darwin. The phrase does not appear in On the Origin of Species and his theory has much more to do with survival of the Fitting.
It seems to me our western competitive, dog eat dog world (do dog's eat dog's?) is, in part, justified by this famous phrase. It's the natural way of things, survival of the fittest and yet I think that has only ever been true in the minds of those who wrote the history books, the victors who passed down stories of chief's slaying other chief's to become the mightiest chief in the world. Everyone else was busy surviving by fitting into their environment or trying to change their environment to fit their needs.
I am encouraged by the change in language I hear from many of those taking a positive attitude to the future. From Obama's "We can do it" to the haven of positivity which is our local Open Coffee group in Cork. I hope the war metaphors of "combat ting climate change", "a war on poverty", "fighting drugs" will give way to a more fitting language of cooperation and alliances. The kind of culture that is emerging from the Internet worlds of open source development and from the gaming world where hierarchies are leveled and mutual benefits are sought.
(Having googled Survival of the Fittest before publishing this I find that Darwin did in fact add the phrase in his 5th edition, but that it was intended as a metaphore not to be take literally! - see Wikipedia entry for why it is incomplete and misleading).