“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.”
- Wallace Stevens
I am reading Jonathan Balcombe's book, second nature, The Inner Lives of Animals. It is full of examples of how animals communicate, interact, and help and protect each other. It is rather embarrassing to be a human and read the news. Exactly which end of the evolutionary tail are we on?
In a section on "Holding Back", he writes:
"Austrian writer Karl Kraus (1874-1936) observed, "How powerful social mores are! Only a spider's web lies across the volcano, yet it refrains from erupting." If you've ever been in a public place, fumbling mad about something but keeping a calm exterior, you know just what he's talking about. Restraint is an essential ingredient of civilized behavior. It takes discipline to resist the desire for an immediately available reward. Oscar Wilde quipped, "I can resist everything except temptation." Animals resist temptation in their daily lives, just as we do. Social living demands it."
I read this and think of the emotional outbreaks of late. When did we lose an appreciation for restraint, the desire to work toward solutions that benefit us all?