a little east of reality

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

lost worlds, uncharted territory

Found an interesting story linked over at Random Thoughts. It's about an expedition in Indonesia that has discovered a pristine area teeming with new and interesting species. Even the local indigenous people don't use that area and so it has stayed untouched for a long time, maybe always.

It made me think ~ not just because:

[The expedition] found a rare tree kangaroo, previously unsighted in Indonesia. Beehler said the naturalists reckoned that there was likely to be a new species of kangaroo living higher altitudes.
(Kangaroos are Aussie animals dammit ~ git yer own!) ~ but also because people are a bit lost themselves. I ended up leaving this comment:

I wonder how much lies undiscovered in terms of people co-existing. Vast untapped resources right in our own heart. But like those indigenous peoples, we just don't venture there very often, do we?
There's a real thrill for people in discovering a new species. Birdwatchers will trek into remote areas and wait patiently for long hours just to add to the list of birds that they have seen. We do try to discover what we can do - if it's in sport, or art, or science - but how often do we investigate ways to get along with the people in our neighbourhood? At best I've seen people make this kind of effort with their partner, their kids - though even that is rare enough. But what about beyond that?

We spend a lot of time thinking about, sometimes complaining about, the problems in the world. Think how many of these are caused by a lack of understanding between people, or could be solved by people who knew how to work together effectively. World peace sounds good. How often do we stop to consider how to create peace in our own country, our own city, our own family? And if we see the solutions, how much time do we give to enacting them? I know I'm not satified with myself in this area. It's not that I do nothing, or never think about it. But I definitely think I spend more time whining about my relationships with other people than I do improving them. Most Australians I know have some opinion about war, about terrorism, about the world in general and the way it works and what would make it work better. Yet several weeks ago when racial violence suddenly erupted in a few areas of Sydney, most of what I heard around the place was people deciding which group they thought we most to blame, or talking about how the only solution was to inundate the area with police. That's eventually what happened. The following weekend some 2000 police officers patrolled the area, and police presence was high for some time, containing the problem until both sides calmed down.

Racial violence is relatively rare in Australia, but the feelings that underly it are not. And that's what I DIDN'T hear people talking about ~ how we could change the situation so that no-one wants to be violent. I'd love to think that there was a mother in Cronulla who thought to herself, "I must ask the kids at dinner what they've heard about this violence and talk to them about it. It'd hate it if they'd picked up any stupid prejudices at school about Lebanese people. Maybe I could remind them that Mr Hammoud is Lebanese. It'll put it more in perspective if they aren't just thinking of Lebanese people as some group they heard mentioned on TV." It would be so cool if every person who thinks racism and racial violence are wrong also had a little action plan for something they could do to promote understanding and tolerance. I love that saying, 'Be the change you want to see in the world." It's so wise.

I think there's a lot of undiscovered territory in humankind and we're never going to discover it until we take the time to look.