Copyright © 2000 Robert G. Ferrell

The Social Perspective Vortex

In the beginning, God created chaos, which later changed its named to The Universe due to bad press. The Universe was a weird place, chock full of huge balls of smelly gas and chunks of rock flying every which way, which made just crossing the galactic lane a hazardous undertaking. Eventually most of the hoohah died down and all the balls flew away, leaving only a small one, exceptionally wet and sticky.

This ball got named the Earth for no readily perceivable reason, and it was soon absolutely overrun with little crawling things and bits of green fluff. Some of the crawly things developed legs, then discovered that they were pretty good at balancing on only two of them. Most of them were satisfied with this achievement, and went back to munching forest fruits.

A few malcontents, however, went off by themselves and started setting fire to things, grunting a lot, and hitting each other with bits of the landscape, in a complex series of rituals that came to be known as Civilization. This new Civilization thing was pretty good for the grunting fire-starters, and with it they soon drove everything in the vicinity into virtual slavery to their increasingly incomprehensible whims.

Some of the first civilized groups of grunters were handicapped by names that sounded like someone suffering from croup, but even this didn't slow them down for long.

The grunters learned to make little marks in wax, on stone, and on mats of pulverized or pressed vegetation using tree pus applied with bird feathers or whittled-down plant stems. This bizarre practice was eventually called writing, and the grunters were insufferably proud of themselves for coming up with it. Grunting became even more popular and widespread, now that there was a way of keeping a permanent record of it. Every time a particularly clever grunter discovered a new way of killing everything, he could pass that valuable knowledge on to all the other grunters without getting a sore throat.

So the grunters bred like rabbits (well, in fact better than rabbits, since rabbits had to worry about well-read grunters killing them in large numbers) and kept thinking up new ways to make everything on the planet, even at times themselves, miserable. After a while the grunters began to call themselves the Human Race, as though anyone else cared. They convinced each other that they were the most important things in Chaos, I mean The Universe, and that God had outdone Himself in cleverness and good taste in creating them. And so they killed a lot more stuff, to celebrate their great goodness. This sort of thing went on for many thousands of years, to the inestimable detriment of everything in the neighborhood.

The next time you start to feel too proud of yourself and your species, remember how you got here.

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