Reflection 04: A Dream of Python
Most people would agree that the world is full of problems and issues. Yes, the scales may vary. At first sight, for some of them, the solution seems quite simple. The question is: are they?
Here’s a story of Python Reticulatus. If you’re familiar with the name, that is great. You must have heard lots of horrifying incidents created by them. They are native to South and Southeast Asia. According to Wikipedia, they are not one of the most endangered species. (Based on IUCN Red List) However, Korea is following CITES, and they are being protected. So the Zoo at the Seoul Grand Park has been trying to preserve them since 1984. They brought a couple of pythons for the first time in that year. Every time they fail at reproducing, the park would bring in a new pair. After 35 years, they succeeded in letting them lay eggs in 2019. I can’t even imagine the joy the park must have felt. However, the keepers were in despair at the same time. There were 20 eggs, but there was not enough space to hatch all of them. The law states that whenever a new entity comes in/is born, the facility should expand 35% of its area. So if they decide to keep baby snakes, the park will be enlarged 400 times, which is impossible.
The park had to decide the next step wisely. The final solution after a chain of meetings was hatching only two healthy eggs. They froze the rest of them for extermination since no other institutions were willing to take them. It was not the end of it. When the media got a hold of this news, the public criticized the park for disrespecting the animal’s lives. The government started an investigation, and they pressed charges against the park. As you might have assumed, the park was not happy. They argued that there is a proper ground for their action, and the government should have helped them in the first place.
For me, this is a typical example of problem-solving in modern society. First of all, who’s fault this is? The environmental organizations declaring the species need protection? The park? The government? The pythons? Humans? The roulette can go endlessly. When you want to resolve an issue, there is a whole network entangled waiting for you. There are multiple stakeholders and unexpected consequences since there is a limit to human knowledge. We perceive our surroundings in our range of notions. People plan stuff, do actions, and believe that they can fix the glitches regardless of the outer world. Just like a butterfly effect, things are intertwined. Then what are the anticipated actions? I’d say going small and be experimental. To tackle huge issues, it is not possible to alter them with something magically. Approaching on small scales and going through trial and error with wild ideas might do. For me, a more problematic attitude is the thinking that you could make changes like exchanging machine parts.
Modern technology and medical practices are remarkable. However, this often mislead people that they could fix everything just like this. Use this medicine for this symptom. Replace the organ with this. Even these solutions were available from endless trial and error. We may change our notion first that humans will fix the program. Yes, we built it. As so many philosophers wrote, it shows who we are but it changes and not to be controlled when it is once out in the world. When humans accept the limits, they will be more careful about what they make.
Let’s revisit the python issue. Why are they being protected? What are the micro-scale actions we can take to resolve the matter? There must be a better approach than importing and ditching the snakes as ready-made products. (of course, we should not use the products like this as well) Once back in the days, some people believed concrete is the best construction material ever. They repaired a stone chamber for a buddha statue with it. Now it is so humid that the whole space got a water problem. When we alter our attitude first before trying to fix the other stuff, I believe there will be what we could test in a smaller scope that would not harm the entire ecosystem.