Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Surrender Signal

Virtually every animal with a backbone has a reflexiive surrender signal. It applies only between species. Dogs do not take surrender from rabbits. But stags fighting for mates do not fight to kill. They fight until one turns tail - a popular surrender reflex. When a Siamese fighting fish has lost his plumage and leaves the fight, the winner will not pursue.

Members of a species will not normally kill each other even to steal food. It is common enough for one male of a group to grab all the females and the lion's share of the food - not only among lions. The rest go hungry and horny, and some die of it. You may consider this reprehensible. But it isn't murder, and it isn't war.

Lions have a problem. Too often the juvenile male challenges the head of the pride before he is ready. The elder male kills him. It's a bug not a feature, and a costly one in evolutionary terms.

Man has a problem too.

Man kept his surrender reflex. If you want to see it in action, watch children on roughhousing in a playground. A child gets hurt, he cries, and the others stop picking on him. If a bully refuses to obey the surrender signal, the others may turn on him.

'Playgrounds of the Mind' - Larry Niven

I submit that this is a surrender signal;

surrender signalsurrender signalsurrender signalsurrender signal

To me they look like so many sheep bedding down for the night. Y'all go ahead and lie down before rough men who would do you harm. This is my signal and I'll fly it proudly . . .

Don't Tread On Me
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