Method

Consume II

Hunger

Life, as we know it, needs energy.

Photosynthesising plants have their own strategies for addressing this demand; Animals, meanwhile, must consume everything needed. And as animals become more and more complex, in turn more and more complex resources are needed—not only nutritional, but also social, and psychological (from having more complex brains).

Human hungers have proven to be madly diverse, acutely intricate, and lavishly immense, especially when multiplied over the full global population.

Capacity

Well-equipped to satisfy our hungers, humans are in command of an astounding range of capabilities, seemingly well beyond the tools available to our nearest, animal rivals. Powered by convoluted skills of socialisation, human civilisations are often sophisticated, dependable, and co-operative. Powered by cognition and community, human technology has drilled into the rocky depths of Earth in extraction, while soaring beyond the solar wind in exploration.

Humans jointly have reshaped Earth to maximise resource collection; including the days of Trinidad and Tobago’s colonial past (when political maps of the world were redrawn as subjugators crossed the planet seeking land, wealth, food, spices, knowledge, and labourers). Port of Spain itself has been artificially expanded, with human action diverting the Saint Anns River to allow eastward growth, while fill material from Lavantille created man-made land, expanding the town southward into what was once mudflats.

Human hunger is matched by human ingenuity and human ambition.

Consumption

And so the question remains, how is our soaring ambition and capacity put to use? How is our hunger fed?

Enslaving other humans might sometimes be a potent method of securing labour, but does that make it ‘ethical’? What did history demonstrate? Is the legacy of slavery still being felt in Caribbean societies? Is it a contributor toward today’s racial tensions? Does empathy and experience help determine ethics? What more ethical means exist for securing labour?

Manipulating others might sometimes be an efficient method of securing resources, but does that make it ‘moral’? What does daily experience teach? What happens in the long run? What do humans do to fellow humans (some politicians, for example) who are discovered to have adopted such techniques? Are there practical reasons to care about the well-being of others?

Slaying local, wild animals as a food source might sometimes be an effective method of securing a meal, but is it always necessary? How are the overall populations of specific animals affected? Red broket deer (now extinct in Tobago)? Ocelots? Sharks? Are the populations of farmed animals more resilient than wild ones? Why? Would the consumption of certain animals into elimination really not matter, but for the meat no longer being available? Or what unseen effects could there be? Are there easily-available alternatives?

Choice

As the human toolkit consists of yearning, ingenuity, and ambition, so too it includes courage, empathy, compassion, and responsibility. These tools can only be applied individually. Certainly, an individual human may seem dwarfed when measured against the full human population, but even the population of Trinidad and Tobago consists of 1.3 million individuals.

Therefore does, say, the lone random food box tossed into a canal really not matter? How often do Port of Spain’s drains clog? Do we all suffer for it?

Or do the lights and appliances left running all day in an empty room really not matter? From where does the electricity come? Is there waste produced in generation of that power? And for comparison sake, how much effort does it take, really, to turn off a fan, TV, light or computer not currently in use? Small t’ing?

What might happen if many individual humans chose to do the same? Or what happens instead if many individual humans choose to do differently?

Are you, reader, an individual human?

What choices do you have?

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Subject, Shauna Edghill. Make-up by Adafih Padmore. August 16th, 2015.