Saturday, September 07, 2002

The Tragedy of the Commons

(As coined in by 19th century mathematician William Forster Lloyd)

The "Tragedy of the Commons" states that any shared resource (a "commons") will inevitably be destroyed by overuse.

Take a town pasture, for example. For each animal a herdsman adds to the common pasture, he recieves all proceeds from the sale of the animal- a positive benefit of +1.
But the negative impact of adding an animal- its contribution to overgrazing- is shared by all, so the impact on the individual herdsman is less than -1.

The only sensible course for each herdsman is to add another animal to the herd. And another, and another- preferably before someone else does. And since each rational herdsman will reach the same conclusion, the commons is doomed.

-Don't Make Me Think- A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (Steve Krug)
Why am I Stating this Tragedy?

I think this is a terrific example of how individual karma (action) affects collective karma, which in turn affects individual karma. It illustrates clearly how individual selfishness will destroy oneself while harming others and how collective selfishness destroys everyone even much faster! This tragedy shows why being compassionate to others is being compassionate to oneself and vice versa. We share one great commons called the universe. In fact, we, the commoners ARE not separate from the commons, being intricately interdependent. The environment around us is around us, but have it ever occured to you that you are part of your neighbours' environment?

I hereby propose a "new tragedy" that is actually an aged old one...I call it-

Tragedy of Most Commoners' Ignorance of the Tragedy of the Commons

Think about it.....
let's not be just another ignorant commoner in the great scheme of life-
especially when we are practising Buddhists.

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Hopefully Somewhat Enlightening & Entertaining Thoughts... Stuff discovered on the path to the natural unshakable peacefulness of a stone...