Recently, a fellow brainlazer and I were discussing a current scandal. I won’t say what the scandal is, for reasons that will soon be made clear, but suffice to say that it was a problem as frustrating as it was contentious. When my buddy complained that following the whole mess was driving him insane, I suggested he stop following it. At that point he suggested that I was being an ostrich, but I had a different exotic creature in mind.
For those unfamiliar with the phrase, “being an ostrich ” is the practice of dealing with an issue by “sticking your head in the sand” and hoping for the best. Evidently this is an old wive’s tale and ostriches don’t actually stick their heads in the sand to avoid predators, which makes sense, since if they did, I’m pretty sure at this point we would be speaking of them in the past tense. Regardless, the phrase remains a useful figurative shorthand for a common activity, so I’ll stick with it. Now, I think we can all agree that pretending a lion isn’t there is a pretty lousy method of avoiding one, particularly when it has noticed you. Likewise, ignoring an issue that is bearing down on you, threatening to leave your life in shambles, is a great way to have a really bad week. Thus, generally speaking, being an ostrich is a bad policy. Boars and water buffalos, on the other hand, are comparatively good at avoiding being torn to bits, since they put up a fight. That said, there’s an animal that is even better. The koala.
The koala’s method for avoiding lions is nearly perfect, and like all great methods, it is incredibly simple. Basically, koalas evade lions by living on a continent where there ARE no lions. Pretty good, huh? It reduces the threat of lion attack to nearly zero, and requires no effort whatsoever by the koala. At this point, the only way a koala is going to fall victim to a lion is if one or both of them were on vacation, and that just isn’t going to happen*, because koalas are way too lazy for that. I mean, think about it, this is an animal who lives in the tree that grows the only thing that it eats. That right there is a piece of evolutionary brilliance. Their habitat and diet are the same thing! It would be like if you just lived at the food court in the mall, which while not socially acceptable**, is undeniably efficient. A koala is far too busy chilling out in a tree, snacking on eucalyptus leaves to ever have a tourism related encounter with a lion, and lions rarely go on vacation either, but for different reasons.***
At this point, you are probably thinking, “Well, Decoychunk, your logic, as usual, is flawless, but I fail to see how this applies to a human social issue.” Well, it is very simple. You can avoid any consequences of a social debate that doesn’t involve you by simply not involving yourself IN it. If two people are in a discussion about the usage of genetically modified corn in developing countries, and you neither live in a developing country, nor have a strong stake in the presence or absence of genetically modified corn, then stay out of the argument. You have nothing to add to the discussion, and your involvement will inevitably end up alienating one or both of the other parties. This works for issues as big as foreign policy and as small as sports rivalries. If you don’t actually care, and you don’t need to care, then DON’T debate with people who DO. Just chill out in your tree and chow down on some leaves until a forest fire or some sort of arboreal dingo comes along and offers a legitimate concern for you.
I realize that this is not a universally applicable or advisable technique. By its very nature it won’t work if the issue at hand is a valid problem that you personally will have to deal with either now or sometime soon. As a matter of fact, if you apply this to an issue that will affect you in the future, all you are really doing is using the Ostrich Technique so effectively that even YOU don’t realize you’re using it. Thus it is key that you carefully assess the totality of the issue at hand, considering all of the potential consequences, before deciding if the Koala Technique is right for you. Ironically, this means that you are probably devoting more rational thought to the issue than the people actually dealing with it. This just goes to show that koalas have much to teach us, and we should continue to observe them in order to see what other lessons we can learn. So far the only other thing I’ve picked up from them is that being fat and hairy and sleeping and eating all day is cute, but only if you do it in a tree. So if anyone needs me, I’ll hanging out in the forest. I’ll be the guy, up in the branches, eating a corn dog and not weighing in on the legal status of marijuana.
* Though you have to admit if would be pretty awesome if a lion and a koala were booked on the same Caribbean cruise.
** Evidently there are also “hygiene concerns” and I should “please stop asking.”
*** It is a well known fact that lions are cheapskates. Seriously, take a lion out to lunch and try to get them to pick up the tab. You can’t do it! And it will probably cost you an arm and a leg.