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Thursday, December 13, 2007
At the swimming pool
Imagine a group of children at the swimming pool. They've all been a bit careless about where they peed – too often they'd just go right where they were, instead of going off to the loo, properly. Now, the pool chemicals can cope with a certain level of impurity but there is a limit. After that limit, the pool becomes irrevocably foul.
Most of the children come to the conclusion that peeing in the pool is a pretty disgusting habit and that they'll not do it any more, in the interests of everyone. They can see that it's rather inconvenient to traipse all the way to the toilet but it's something that just has to be done. If everyone acts together (or forbears from acting selfishly), the chemicals will have less work to do and the pool will stay fresh and healthy longer, perhaps almost indefinitely.
A few of the kids are reluctant to join the co-operative community. John, a notable pisser, is banned from the pool and replaced by Kevin, a notable continent. Unfortunately, though, George, the biggest of the boys, and rather a bully, thinks selfishly and decides to carry on peeing in the pool. What's more, he decides to add even more pee.
What clever, co-operative children to look after their pool so responsibly but how nasty and selfish George is. He is freeloading on the good nature of the more perceptive and responsible children, George is effectively saying 'I can forever go on peeing in the pool and you poor mugs who've stopped doing so will, by your forbearance, permit me to do that because I'm the biggest and I'll thump you if you complain'. (Well, he would say that if he were a bit more articulate; actually, he may be big but he's remarkably maladroit and out of touch.) George doesn't have it completely his own way, though – someone from his family: big Al – who's not really big enough to control George - keeps on pointing out to the bully the error of his ways.
This reminds me of another story I read today:
The EU was in a showdown with the US over climate change policy today, demanding Washington "wake up" and describing next month's US-led talks on emissions cuts as "senseless" without binding targets…Of course, there's no similarity at all. The problem with the pool is that the civilised kids could always find another pool, just for the hygienic among them; there's no similar possibility with our lovely World, though…
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