The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. If you’ve ever though that this old adage has described the way you’re feeling, there’s a real good chance you liked the idea of finding something that was cut off to you in some way, whether by social norms or physical obstructions or what have you. This is one of the defining characteristics of our shared human identity, and indeed, life itself. Enjoy a cow demonstrating this literally:
This drive to overcome obstacles and reach for what we desire has been a driving force that has shaped our modern society into what it is today, and is responsible for all the triumph and hardship that come with it. This is most clearly demonstrated on the frontier of civilization where we expand our domain as humans and push back the boundaries of the untamed wilds, although it can be seen along any conceivable fault-line we perceive in the world. The stark contrast between two worlds, and especially our own apparent inability to thrive in untouched wilderness and our inclination to reshape our immediate surroundings to suit our needs, can turn our expansion into something of a zero-sum game: your loss is my gain.
As our modern western civilization holds our immediate human interests as paramount (often specifically white/European-descended, male, straight, christian etc. interests) we often display an utterly gung-ho attitude in pursuit of these interests, of this “greener grass” if you will. To focus on some of the more cheerful consequences of this ideology, we need look no farther than Velcro, and its inevitable by-product, the recent scientific discoveries in the exploration of Mars, specifically the confirmation of the presence of flowing water on the planet, and the implications it has for furthering our understanding of the world around us. There are also commercial opportunities aplenty:
While somewhat beyond the realm of contemporary practicality, Matson’s cartoon illustrates d: , quite astutely, that for some, the proverbial greener pasture is a new bottled-water product line. However, such noble achievements do not come without cost, although it may not be clearly apparent to us at the time. A reason for this is that perhaps our most defining characteristic as a species, our ability to transform our environment to conform to our desires, also leads to a sense of separation from the ecosystems that begot us, beyond that inherent in our notions of personal identity and self-awareness.
This division of identity is not something most people are motivated to overcome as, apparently, they have quite enough going on in their lives already in dealing with the demands of a complex modern social society. This is where the example of the feral child can be so instructive. Raised away from the tangle of human social obligations that comprise our lives, these characters are able to see with eyes unclouded the consequences of our ambitions and remind us that, while the grass may always be greener on the other side of the fence, reaching it requires disruption of the natural order that enabled us to make it to this field in the first place. In other words: don’t forget where you came from.
Matson, R.J. Martian. September 30, 2015. <http://yubanet.com/cartoon/Bottled-Water-from-Mars.php#.VhQhSPlViko>
Image Credit: Cattle eating grass through barbed wire fence. Wiktionary. April 3, 2011. <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/File:Cattle_eating_grass_through_barbed_wire_fence.jpg>. Image source: http://flickr.com/photo/8369188@N07/954790579