Christian Long

Douglas Adams: Parrots, the Universe, and Everything

In TED Talks on May 22, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Reflection by VIVIAN H.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Douglas Adams:  Parrots, the Universe, and Everything

Douglas Adams explains the most basic ties of animals and the relationship they have to their habitats as well as humanity with clever wit and insightful humor. However due to the length of this video, which is about 80 minutes, I will cover only a few parts of his talk, in hopes of providing just enough to capture your interest.

Adams starts off his talk with a nicely crafted explanation on the origins of lemurs, and their interactions with a species that are particularly interested in the mechanics of twigs, the monkey. Agressive and much more intelligent “according to itself”, the monkey took the place of lemurs in everywhere except Madagascar, which eventually they came to reach through their ingenius use of twiggage in the form of boats and planes. Ultimately, technology has brought together the lemur and its old enemy, the monkey.

Adams himself went in search of a lemur and came face to face with one for about ten seconds. He says, “What this encounter had been was I was a monkey looking at a lemur. Our roots in this planet go back an awfully, awfully long way and we don’t tend to think about that very much.” Our connection to nature and the life that surrounds is older an deeper than what we might think. Nevertheless, we are increasingly loosing sight of this connection, as we now become with preoccupied with the technology that has the potential to allow us to explore even further expanses of nature. Instead many choose to lock themselves in an artificially created environment, as technology becomes more and more advance. It isn’t the technology that creates a problem, it’s our mindset.

“The interactions between man and beast have often ended up with the beast getting the short end of the twig”, Adams said. “Humans think the world was created for them and prance around like they own the place, which is often not in the best interests of anything.”

As we become less and less in tune with nature, we also begin to lose what should be an innate instinct that allows us to interact and live in compatibility with the animals that surround us, because often nature has a way of creating a cycle that works together in harmonic balance and naturally problems will be unraveled on their own. It is because we are becoming so distracted with senseless routines, that we create a bubble that leaves us ignorant of reality and what is really happening around us, in our environment and in various aspects of our relationships.

“We think we can screw about with the world any way we like. But maybe we can’t. We don’t have to save the world. The world is fine. The world is big enough to look after itself. What we have to be concerned about is whether the world we live in will be capable of sustaining us after we’re through with it.”

You look at mother nature and you realize Adams is right, the world is big enough to look after itself, think about the hurricanes, the earthquakes, the tsunamis, and that is how strong nature itself is. With one sweep whether it be a blizzard or a flood, nature can wipe us out so easily. However, if we continue to wear away at earth’s resources, generation after generation, even with the enormity of these disasters we will destroy our resources. As Adams says, we don’t need to save the earth, we just need to let nature work itself out, so that it can still sustain us after we are through with it.


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