After all, we all know that everything in nature is essentially unpleasant and ferocious and we therefore need the firm organising hand of authority to stave off murderous chaos.
During a recent walk, I came across a sheep with a magpie sitting on its head.
I managed to get close enough to see clearly what was going on. The magpie was busy picking off and eating insects from around the sheep’s face.
It even pecked around the sheep’s eyes, at one point visibly turning out its host’s lower eyelid to get at some tasty morsel.
Throughout all of this, the sheep stood completely still with its head held level, as if frozen into immobility. Only when the magpie had flown off did it resume its grass-munching activity.
All right-minded people will immediately notice that this type of behaviour is quite unacceptable.
There was no kind of policing or surveillance of what was going on. How could the sheep be sure that the magpie would not suddenly peck out its eyes? Or how did the magpie know that the sheep would not shake it off and trample it to death?
What sort of deterrent was there to prevent a lapse into anti-social behaviour? Was either party insured? Had they undergone appropriate training? Had a proper set of procedures been established for the conduct of both parties?
I suggest that legal notices immediately be placed in the field explaining that unregulated sheep-magpie interaction is strictly forbidden – for their own safety.
To fail to act would be to fall into the dangerous trap of assuming that animals can be left to their own devices without the need for policing, regulation, authorisation, training or externally-imposed rules of any kind.
Whatever next? The suggestion that trees might somehow grow themselves without being planted by human beings? That the Earth would continue rotating without the regulating expertise of The Royal Observatory at Greenwich?
That kind of naïve and unrealistic thinking can only lead us on a slippery slope to complete anarchy.