Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Herd

We humans are not really a herd animal, we're not loners either, not by any means. We can tolerate it, but it's not good for us. No, our species is made up of family groups. Those groups at one time would gather into tribes (in some places that's still the case). Larger groupings were found to be conducive to survival, both in terms of the ability to protect the group and through dividing up the jobs: some folks out hunting and gathering, other folks staying back at the camp/cave/what-have-you tending the fires, mending stuff, making stuff, and taking care of the young 'uns.

We are most comfortable in cooperative groupings which share a common background.

Now a comment on my post the other day got me to thinking, again. (And yes, it's starting to make my head hurt.)
Definitely a brain bender. Is it evil if I and my society destroys another because we see them as a threat? The victors write history, and so get to define what the 'greater good' was. What short term "pains" (i.e. deaths, to take it to the absolute) are worthy of longer term "gains"? And who gets to make the judgement? One sees this played out whenever the use of the atomic bombs on Japan is discussed. "Bad" vs "evil" on the way to a "good" outcome.

I'm also pondering if the First Principle is universal. If my society believes in it, but the society down the block doesn't. Or is the Principle true, and the challenge is that all men are also self-directed beings of Free Will. Who may decide to subordinate their will to that of others.
Much to ponder.

That bit of subordinating one's will to that of others really made me think. After some time of pondering and digging into the books, I am pretty sure that that whole submission, subordination thing is pretty good in small groups. After all, someone has to actually be in charge. Well, I don't know about "have to," but I think it's the way we're wired. Put a bunch of people together, give 'em a task (like go into the wilderness and survive) and someone is eventually going to emerge as the leader. Sometimes, if the group is large enough, it might even be several leaders, each possibly responsible for some aspect of the group's survival.

So if someone is in charge, someone else (usually several someones) is not in charge. They get to be the worker bees, if you will.

Which leads to another comment I saw some place (and yes, I forgot to note where I saw it, if someone recognizes this, please let me know)...
The truth is, Socialism fails because it gives power to a few, and people are greedy, self-centered creatures. It is part of what in Judeo-Christianity is known as the ‘sin nature’.

We cannot trust any human being, even ourselves, to not at some point act in a self-centered manner. We need a system of checks and balances, of accountability, a buddy system, to keep ourselves in line.

Even more so our governments. - Graybeard
Too much all for one, one for all, ain't such a good thing.

We tend to get crazy if there are too many of us with time on our hands. Especially if we get angry about something, then our species can do things they wouldn't think of doing if they were on their own.

A large crowd can be panicked, just like a herd of sheep/cattle/horses/whatever. In that panic they will overturn anything in their path, they will even trample and kill the slower members of the mob.

Get a mob riled up about something, good or bad, and the crazy takes over.
Hey, we're pissed because of Trump! Let's burn the town down, let's block traffic, let's break stuff. (Replace "Trump" with whatever cause du jour springs to mind, it doesn't really matter.)
Hey, we're happy because our team won the big game! Let's burn the town down, let's block traffic, let's break stuff.
It makes no sense to me, how could people behave that way? Well, I think it's because when there are too many of us in one place, we subordinate our will to that of the mob. We are no longer individuals, we have become part of a collective, the hive mind takes over, and bad things happen.

I lived in Germany for seven plus years, I love the land and its people. I often asked myself, how could these peoples' parents and grandparents murder over 18 million people? (That figure includes Jews, Russian civilians and POWs, gypsies, homosexuals, and every other sort of group that the Nazis didn't like.)

While individuals did the killing, the group made the individuals feel less culpable for their actions. It was the group, the hive if you will, who murdered all of those people. At least that's how the individuals got through it. Many didn't, they lost their sanity, many killed themselves when the enormity of what they had done sunk in.

But as part of a large group, people can do anything. If the leaders of the group are intent on evil and destruction, that's what will happen.

We're pretty decent individually and in small groups. Get too many of us in the same place with a "cause," and things can get scary in a hurry.

One of our problems right now in this country is that are too many groups with grievances, both real and imagined, being manipulated by unscrupulous people with very sketchy goals. If you ever feel the need to be part of a mob, ask yourself, who benefits from this? If I block a roadway as part of some nebulous protest, who benefits? If I get thrown in jail, who cares? If the whole thing makes the news, the people behind the scenes are happy. They really don't care what happens to the little people. They are merely pawns in some greater game. A game which benefits only a few, not the many.

Don't be a pawn, don't stampede with the rest of the herd.


This kinda crap is really pissing me off.

Sarge, out.

I need to post more plane pr0n and historical stories, this serious stuff really makes my head hurt.


  1. A while back I listened to a coworker relate some terrible event done by bad people and then he stated, "That could never happen here." I then gave him a few seconds of the senior noncom look and then I said, "There is no genetic difference at all between the Germans who ran the concentration camps and the Americans of today, and there is no genetic difference between any of the people that have committed atrocities throughout history and the modern day Americans and if you think it cannot happen here you are fooling yourself."

    1. And there really is a fine line between civilization and barbarism.

      Given the right push...

    2. At the Renaissance Fair in Novato one year we watched the “Penny Lady” – village mad-woman – doing her shtick of scrabbling around on the ground shouting, chanting, whispering “PENNY! Pennypennypennypennypenny…PENNY!”

      People would toss coins to her. Most, because they were not pennies, she would toss away. Sometimes she would actually eat paper money.

      Now, keep in mind that this was in o, so tolerant and diverse Marin County, CA. Some kids, mid-teens, from how they and their parents were dressed were in the well to do class, very well to do. These kids started throwing, not tossing but throwing, coins at her not to or towards her. Their parents kept giving them more coins, from what we could see quarters and half dollars, to throw at her. Others joined in the fun. Throws got harder and harder.

      In the space of about 3 minutes it went from a crowd of people enjoying the show and being part of the act to verging on mob violence.

      So much for our much-vaunted civilization. A very thin veneer at best.

  2. The founders called the First Principle self-evident truth. I think that makes it universal in humanity. Humans appear to have free will, however, and may choose to ignore or disavow truth.

    Humans are often called herds or sheeple because they appear to act in lock step. The difference is this; herd animals react instinctively and without cognition or reasoning. Humans always make a conscious decision. Always. The initial recoil from danger may be unthinking and often is, but that's just a step or two. Then they think and decide on a course of action. They may decide to do something awful, like kill all the Jews, but it's a conscious decision.

    Herd animals, on the other hand, do it like this. THREAT! RUN-RUN-RUN-RUN-RUN-RUN-RUN-hey, grass! Mmmmmm-nom-nom-nom.

    1. Which is why we agree that humans are not herd animals. We have the ability to make decisions and then act. We don't always think things all the way through, but we do make conscious choices (when not in a fight or flee situation). It's the "not thinking things all the way through" bit which has brought us to this point in time.

      Which concerns me.

  3. Which is why I usually take a skeptical approach to new ideas. For instance, Is the climate warming? Pretty easy to play with numbers all around the world over vast periods of time. Personally it seems to me that winters in my territory are clearly warmer than winters of my youth, however I remember summers as being hotter...of course we didn't have air-conditioning...anyway is the sudden scare about Global Warming pure science, or is it part of scientific herd mentality? Just an example of why skepticism, even if wrong, is necessary in our "herd."

    Now I have to go and rest my brain for a while.

    1. A little skepticism goes a long way.

  4. And the groups with grievances aren't just angry mobs. People with issues or problems (elderly, college students, people with pre-existing conditions, minorities, etc.) all have the ear of their congressional reps, either individually or collectively. Their voices are heard loudly by those politician who wish to solve their problems, ones that government regulation will address and make it worse for others. Voices amplified by the media. Nobody wants to tell these groups that their grievance isn't important, or is too expensive, or they need to look inward to fix vice outward. We've become a society that has learned to expect government will solve our problems. And the solutions are anything but- band-aids vice cures.

    1. Too true. When government steps in we get more bureaucrats, higher taxes, and far less attention paid to problems that the government is supposed to work on. Like an annual budget...

    2. "Their voices are heard loudly by those politician who wish to solve their problems"

      More like "who wish to be seen to wish to solve their problem." If the capons holding office actually solved the problems they would be out of work.

  5. The herd they have working the airline security is a fine example.

  6. "Ware that first quick response, don't give into the emotional side but try to take the time to think as you suggested above. Not an wasy thing to do at times. A thoughtful post Sarge.

    1. Sometimes I really want to give in to that quick response. But as I've aged I've found it's best to take a deep breath and count to three.

      If that first reaction still seems best? Well, cry havoc I say.

  7. This blog just keeps getting better and better. Thank you for providing much food for thought.

    Paul L. Quandt

  8. Testosterone is an interesting component of the human being. You have to wonder why we need it sometimes since -
    the Bible also has something to say about it - "Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) 9 The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick, who can understand it?"

  9. The problem is the youth of today have not been raised, generally, to stop and think, nor any understanding of logic, or of reasoned thinking. Everywhere we are bombarded with "emotional thinking". Just watch your local news after "an incident". the reporters always ask "how are you feeling?", never "what the f+++ were you thinking". People may have the choice to choose, to stop and think, but the vast majority these days just plain don't. Government likes it better when we don't think.

    Us older folks have been around long enough to be disillusioned a few times, so we tend to stop and think as we have learned the value of counting to 3 before we say something.

    1. You have a point Suz, young 'uns nowadays don't want to think, they just want to feel. Kind of frustrating innit?


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)