|Same perp, same bookcase, 15 years earlier|
That's why it seemed sort of elegant and clean when a gentleman recently jumped off a monorail and into a tiger's cage at the Bronx Zoo. You've got your action, and you've got your consequence. His leap was deliberate. He admired wild animals, and he had expressed a desire to be "one with the tiger." He very nearly got his wish to be one with the tiger, for at least as long as it takes a tiger to process him and crank him out the rear end, say, a couple days. But zoo personnel intervened long enough to extract the fellow.
One of the problems I think we're having as a species is that we've gotten powerful enough to push our consequences so far away from our actions that we can't make them out anymore. Not that long ago a simple task might take ten of us all day, fueled by porridge. Now we jam a plug into the wall and pull out the mighty Columbia River in an instant. Or, elsewhere, a thousand years'-worth of photosynthesis, all mashed down neat. We use all that power to grind coffee beans that grew on the other side of the globe and we think nothing of it.
We think our food comes from the grocery store. We think our water comes from the faucet, and we think it always will. People used to wrap up in blankets when they were cold. Now we pop over the ocean to go lie in the sun for a couple weeks.
That's how entitled we think we are. During the Democratic Convention, a group of undecided voters was polled for reaction after the President's speech. One fellow was peeved. "I didn't hear anything about what he'd do about gas prices," he whined. "And is he going to make us buy those squiggly light bulbs?" This was a man bobbing around in a bewildering sea in which nothing was connected to anything else, and he was adrift at the mercy of flotsam and jetsam he couldn't begin to identify.
I think most of us might make some wiser decisions. Not everybody, of course. There's a tiger-jumper in every crowd. But I'd never vote for one.