Why do we have to behave badly… ?

Someone asked me the other day, “Did you know that the X chromosome that determines males from females is reducing every year, and that in one and a half million years there will be no males born?” Well, truth be known, I didn’t know that, but my response possibly, I thought later, said something more interesting about me, maybe my generation, and probably, those without faith.
“Well, I won’t be around to see the day, so it doesn’t bother me,” I responded, giving it less consideration than the rumoured attention span of a goldfish, about three seconds. I guess that’s the very attitude that makes this world a difficult place to live in sometimes, and certainly gives pause to just how inconsiderate and selfish we can all be at times. From one perspective, the chromosomes thing doesn’t matter one iota to me, but what if we all took my attitude to the things that do, or should, concern us?
You see, it’s that very attitude that led to the wiping out of the great American plains bison herds of the 19th century. From an estimated 60 million bison grazing from Alaska to Mexico, by 1900, only 300 remained, after widespread slaughtering for their pelts by the ‘new’ settlers, with the meat allowed to rot on the plains. Now with my thought process, as above, those 300 would have been left to go the same way, and the magnificent beasts would be no more. However, some far-sighted policies by American and Canadian Conservation groups ensure that the bison has been saved for posterity, and currently more than 600,000 populate the Americas, to be seen and appreciated by millions each year, and wiser for it.
Here in Oman, of course we have our own similar models with the recovery and conservation programmes inspired by the words of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, who has said, “The preservation of the environment is a collective responsibility not bounded by political boundaries…” and went on to encourage us all to share our
concern for pollution in its many forms, in order that the wildlife heritage of the Sultanate be retained for future generations.
The Green and Hawksbill Turtles, the Arabian Oryx, Arabian Leopard, and Arabian Tahr, among others, are all not ‘out of the woods,’ yet, but between government programmes, the international conservation and scientific communities, and an increasingly active Environmental Society of Oman, these species, and many others, at least have an opportunity for survival.
However, my thought processes here are not only critical of myself and others, in terms of conservation and the environment, but in respect of the bigger question.
After all, it’s a very glib statement to say, “I won’t be around,” and expect that to be my contribution to future generations. It’s a huge ‘cop-out,’ isn’t it? I mean, the reality is that in the foreseeable future, I do care, as the world I contribute to will be home to my daughter, and my grandchildren etc, etc. But I should be caring beyond that shouldn’t I?
Thinking otherwise, I wouldn’t care a fig about anyone else at all, and I don’t think I can be so ‘in flagrante delecto.’ In reality, I do care about racist policies, sexist behaviour, active ageism, colonialist attitudes, overt jingoistic behaviour, and any other ‘isms’ you can think of, because they
all imply a lack of respect for others. I recall a quote that I’ve been unable to source appropriately, but it goes like this: “If people respect you, respect them. If they disrespect you, respect them. If they want to represent their ideology, let them. You simply represent yours.”
It probably characterises how I should feel about any issues I’m confronted with, and tells me that I should at least take a moment to reflect on the question in a more global, or holistic sense, rather than being as dismissive as I was. For in doing so, I wasn’t only being disrespectful to the questioner, but the question. Both deserved better!

Ray Petersen
petersen_ray@hotmail.com