Slow is Counterintuitive…?

2 Aug 07

The following is a comment I made by way of a response to the entry, “Practically Slow,” on the Slow Down Now blog (which I wouldn’t normally bother posting to this blog as well, except that it’s longer than my normal “comments,” and it kind of stands on its own)…

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It’s funny that we are even in a position to say that “slow is counterintuitive.” It’s true, but it’s perhaps worth examining why it’s true. It’s based on the premise that more is better than less. And what is the root of this? Does it go back to a biological imperative or is it a more recent (evolutionarily speaking) Capitalist construct?

I can’t say I know more than half a diddly about business, but I have read a little around the topic of evolution/natural selection. I would say therefore that I know perhaps three-quarters of a diddly about this topic. Within that three-quarters, I have learnt the vastly oversimplified generalisation that different species do things in very different ways. Species A might have “decided” that it makes sense (in terms of the passing on of one’s genes and so forth) to have as many babies as possible, thus increasing the likelihood that, however fragile each individual progeny may be, at least a few of them will survive long enough to reproduce. Species B, on the other hand, might have “decided” that it makes sense (for the same reasons) to put less energy into reproducing, but to create a small number of relatively strong babies, or, on account of their smaller numbers, to be able to look after them for as long as possible until they are able to go out into the world and look after themselves. Species A might be a frog. Species B might be… ooh, I dunno… that little known mammal known as Homo sapiens.

And another thing…

Humans are not leopards. Nor are they swifts or sharks. They aren’t sloths either, but they are certainly not the speediest animals on the block. We, and our ancestors, have however made up for this fact by putting our brains and our opposable thumbs to use on making axes, spears, houses and iPods.

So is slow counterintuitive? Is it an instinct buried deep in our genes that we must move faster, produce more, create huge quantities of babies, knowing that it doesn’t matter if most of them die? I would say not! We were never meant to be this fast or to do so much! Our very genes are crying out for us to slow down, do less and think before we act! It’s about time we listened to the wisdom of our tree-dwelling predecessors…



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