There is no escaping it, I am now a grumpy old woman (GOW).

I’m old enough, and think ill enough of the world and human beings and their activities, to have earned that title. Big things, small things, they all tick me off. Like any good misanthrope I prefer dogs to humans. (For that matter I prefer centipedes and plague carrying rats to most humans.)

Thomas Hobbes held that a man’s life in his natural state, was nasty, brutish and short. As far as I can see the only difference between man in his natural state and man in his ‘civilised’ condition is life expectancy.

Every day the newspapers and television news provide apparently limitless examples of brutality and nastiness. An optimist might say that good deeds vastly outnumber the bad but go unreported and unlauded. I don’t agree. The best that most of us can manage is to get through the day without doing something actively selfish, stupid or downright vicious. It has taken thousands of years, thousands of laws and a dozen major world religions to bring us even to that stage of relative civility. Given the slightest excuse we all slide back towards cruelty and unthinking viciousness.

Am I exaggerating? Consider the behaviour of car drivers. How many of you apparently gentle, mild people get behind the wheel of a car and start to behave badly, really badly, placing other people including members of your own families at risk of death and maiming, breaking speed limits for no good reason and often for no reason at all. How many choose vehicles that are dangerous to others in a crash or vehicles that are wasteful and dangerous to the planet. More than a few will drive a car when they are unfit. Are you or I especially evil people? Not really. Driving is one of the few remaining areas of twenty-first century life where the average westerner can lethally misbehave and get away with it on most days.

Are there any really good people? Maybe one in four or five hundred. That’s still quite a few in fact – maybe 20 million out of the eight billion or so humans on the planet. Let’s assume really bad people are about the same in number. The rest of us, the 7.96 billion remaining, are just the aimless herds wandering about following orders and organising ourselves into tribes just waiting to be whipped up into violent mob frenzies by the first semi-plausible politician or priest who chances along and asks us to murder and torture other members of our species for the sake of something that we are too stupid to actually understand or question. A visiting alien would think that human beings get what we deserve. And we do.

Apart from vicious individual self-interest, collective stupidity is the guiding principle of human behaviour. We constantly support and pursue collective strategies designed to result in our own destruction. (If anyone really believes that the human race will change its collective behaviour and avert global warming then there are some fine beach front properties in a number of low-lying areas which I could let you in on for a very reasonable price.)

I needed an outlet for my inner GOW to express her rage at the madness and this is it.


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