Maybe we were meant to fight our way through, struggle, claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way. Maybe we can’t stroll to the music of the lute. We must march to the sound of drums.
–Captain James Tiberius Kirk
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
–The Bible, Matthew 7:13-14
In the beginning human life crawled out of the primordial ooze and was horny. But, even before that, it was hungry. Foods, it thought. We need foods.
At first we hunted and gathered. This was based on the scientific process of trial and error. See something. Will it fit in your mouth? If yes, put it in and swallow. If it kills you, don’t eat it any more. If it’s delicious, nom nom it up. See something moving? Try to kill it. If you live long enough, apply the same process.
Eventually we got tired of that. It was too unpredictable and a hell of a lot of work. So we made the shift to an agrarian society. We learned we could grow food where we wanted it. (Farms.) We learned we could breed animals and keep ’em around until we were hungry. (Livestock.)
This worked well enough for a long, long time and had the added benefit of being sustainable.
Then we made the shift to an industrial society and suddenly a shitload of status quos were deemed insufficient. We deserved better. This would eventually be known as the Supersize Era. If a little pen of animals was delicious, why not a bigger pen? We could maximize profits and have more than we ever dreamed possible.
It was also around this same time we began making the shift to the affluent meat-based diet and our health problems and waistlines expanded accordingly.
So we crammed more and more animals into smaller and smaller spaces. Animals that used to roam fairly free suddenly spent their days rubbing up against their neighbors. This increased the transmission of illness and disease and decreased quality. This was a problem.
Rather than take a hint that this was a sign, we looked for the easy path. This turned out to be antibiotics. This seemed to solve the problem. Now we could cram animals together all we wanted and still manage the rate of illness and disease.
In a strange twist of fate, however, one other little thing happened.
Antibiotics made the meat get bigger.
If a little meat is a good thing, then a hell of a lot more must be awesome, right? Not once did we ever stop to consider the “can” and the “should.” Yes, we can do a thing, but does that mean we should?
That road looks much too rocky. I’m going this way.
Who the hell cares? We’re making money hand over fist. Yee haw!!!
Meanwhile, about that same time…
Humanity, by making the shift from an agrarian society to an industrial one, was leaving rural areas for urban ones. We transitioned to life in cities, which, if you think about it, are really just highly concentrated areas of people who have very little direct control over the production of resources necessary to their own survival.
With advances in agricultural technology, not the least of which included antibiotics, yields were increased and it was possible for fewer people to be allocated to the task of feeding larger and larger populations. (In more ways than one.)
So now here we are. We are beginning to learn that choices have consequences. For example, over-reliance on antibiotics has the unintended consequence of antibiotic resistance. We don’t yet know the full extent of what this might mean to us and our survival as a species, but we’re beginning to become curious.
Rather than leveraging everything to the Nth degree to maximize profits above all else, maybe we should have just spaced out the animals and left well enough alone? Maybe we outsmarted ourselves? Do we even know what we’re doing? Did anyone ever stop to consider questions like these?
We speed down the easy path as fast as we can without ever pondering the should. Because money is involved. What will this all mean? Let’s watch.
The way is hard that leads to life.
I wonder if Captain Kirk was on to something?