I have been thinking further on the Tiger Trail, and its connection to the purpose of this site. Usually I muse on the wisdom of the judge that took the risk to allow convicted poachers to serve out their life sentence in the national park rather than in prison. The opportunity we have to visit the wilderness with them, and to relay that story, is certainly a privilege, for this site and for the individuals who write about it.
But the reason I keep coming back to it is that the men who represented the risk have, by all appearances, made good on their promise not to return to poaching for all these years. Why?
If the men were inherently good, an argument could be made, they would not have hunted and killed tigers for money, or destroyed the cinnabar ecosystem for money. But to meet the men today, they certainly seem good, by nurture if not by nature. And so, why?
Meg”s recent post continues a theme we have touched on more than once on this site. In one post we attempted an informal, referential definition. The Radio Lab link in that post was one of the most moving recorded items I have ever listened to, which is why this was completely justified. And so, to continue the nature versus nurture conversation, I recommend a few minutes of listening to this woman’s story.
It is not just a virtuous patience story, but an example of de-nurturing in the interest of achieving a goal. By de-nurturing I mean forgetting some of what she has been taught, and has taught herself, about how to succeed at her work. It means going into a state of total empathy (back to nature in the most visceral way) to communicate with the subjects in her field study. It means strengthening muscles she did not even know she had, out of necessity.
This seems related to the phenomenon that Milo noted in his post, and perhaps to the experience of Aldous Huxley as well. Maybe it is better stated as re-nurturing, building new skill sets and senses when needed.
In yet another Radio Lab segment the author Paul Auster talks about Rhyming Events–remarkable, inexplicable coincidences–that might give us the sense that the game is rigged. In that same segment Wile E. Coyote is set up as the poster child of uncontrollable fate. The message rings out that the best strategy is to try, even against seemingly insurmountable odds, even when the world seems to favor others and oppose you, even if it seems human will is no match for the forces at play.
There is no attempt to explain why. Just, “do it.”