Saturday, 20 August 2016

You'd better believe it!

I sometimes think that Polly Toynbee exists purely to give taxpayers somebody to belly laugh about. The other day she went into a full on, straitjacket-required, anti-Tory rant about obesity. It seems that fat is a socialist issue. Odd, though, that in her diatribe she recommends that we should “offer a diet of self-esteem, good jobs and social status, and the pounds will fall away”, because this has been the Tory solution since forever, whereas the ragged-trousered remnants of the Labour Party would legislate people thin by passing laws which always end up punishing 'the most vulnerable in society'.

Meanwhile, Theresa May’s government are going on about tax and taking a leaf out of Labour’s good book to soak the rich, or more particularly those who manage to avoid giving more than a few million to the Exchequer. Thus do political movements symbiotically survive by each feeding off the other’s ideas until they come to resemble one another, or else spawn new offshoots such as the Social Democrats and New Labour. One step forwards, two steps backwards, like an evolutionary gavotte, spinning and wheeling and never leaving the spot. We can send man to the moon in a single generation of effort, yet after millennia we still don’t have answers to questions posed by Plato.

In some less well evolved parts of the world there appears to be a determination to reverse the process entirely and consign all of man’s achievements to the dusty archive of archaeology; will a newly-excavated ancient London be sacked like Palmyra in a few thousand years’ time? People in the enlightened west have been talking about atheism for centuries but there must be something hidden deep in the genetic code of mankind’s monkey brain that reflexively clings on to fable, rather than fact.

The responsibility lies with everybody to educate their children that life is theirs to make the most of and they should not blindly follow faiths without challenge nor accept explanation without question. So when young Jamie asked his father “Dad, how did we get here?” his father replied “Well, first there were Adam and Eve and one day they made a baby. Then their babies grew up and made more babies and so on and so forth until there were millions of humans, all making babies and well, here we are! But don’t just take my word for it, ask your mum.”

Jamie duly sought out his mother and asked her the same question. Mum, having a doctorate in evolutionary biology – for this is one of those modern stories where the women get the life affirming role while the man merely plays the part of a dullard father – said “Well, first there were inorganic compounds that became organic and began to replicate. Then there were bacteria and later more complex animals. Millions of years later, fish evolved that could leave the sea. From there we got small shrew-like animals and eventually the great apes arrived.”

“Great apes?” asked Jamie, eyes wide. “Yes” continued mum “our ancestors were primates, the same as those of the chimpanzees and the orangutans we see today. The fossil records prove that we all belong to the same ancestral line.” Jamie wasn’t sure how to reconcile these two very different answers so after some thought he returned to his father. “You lied!” he stated, “I asked mum and she told me we came from monkeys!” His father calmly replied “She was talking about her side of the family.”

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