There’s Progress and then there’s Evolution

Progress and evolution are two different things. We’ve progressed as humans, faster and faster in the last two centuries. Remember those calendars that condense earth’s four-point-something billion years into one year and show that humans arrived around 11:30 p.m. on December 31st? It means that the whole industrial revolution, cars, trains, space travel thing has happened in the last thirty seconds.

Technology and science have made giant leaps. Economies and trade have grown. We went to the moon for the first time in 1969 and now humans work in space regularly. There have been many discoveries in many disciplines. Humans have achieved great things.

But have we really evolved? As in grown to a higher, more complex, better state (I’m using the Merriam-Webster here)? Are we kinder? Are we better? How about fairer? More peaceful? It’s hard to think so when wars continue, genocides still happen, dictatorships exist. People are killed simply for who they are or what they believe. On a more mundane level it’s easy to find examples of harsh and mean treatment of each other. We claim to espouse great values and tolerance yet people are ripped apart on social media or ostracized at their school or workplace.

Animal Tales

What about the treatment of animals? Ghandi said the measure of moral progress of a society can be judged by how it treats its animals. I love animals. They don’t have all those faults I see in people. Is there less cruelty than before? Are they recognized as animals like us? Because humans are animals, we’re all on the same continuum.

This thought arose again when I read a news article this week about a freight train in Saskatchewan hitting a herd of pronghorn antelope, on November 15th. To my surprise freight trains hitting antelope and deer are not an uncommon occurrence. In fact, in the article, the Environment Ministry acknowledged that over one hundred animals have been killed by trains in four collisions between the 9th and 20th of November.

But this case was particular for two reasons: several dozen antelope were killed and someone filmed it and posted on Facebook. The video is upsetting but I’ve linked both english and french language articles that include it.

CP Rail reported the incident as required and have launched an investigation in this case. That’s it. Report it as required. I’ll presume the investigation is because it was embarrassing to have it posted on social media. Let me also assume this will come to nothing. And finally let me foolishly hope there could be a solution, other than mowing down animals all winter long.

The Environment Ministry responded by saying the number of antelope impacted was distressing. Noticed the use of the word impacted? Remember how I said to choose your words wisely because they are powerful?

An impact is two objects coming into contact. A fender bender is an impact. You can be impacted without physical contact, such as in impacted by bad news. Impacted does not have the impact of the words killed, slaughtered or massacred. It’s a softer version of the truth.

Still the Same

So here’s my point. Have we evolved? It’s 2020, soon to be 2021 and animals are still randomly killed because, oh well, they unfortunately try to outrun predators (ok for a wolf, not so for a train) and trains don’t stop on a dime. And profit comes before everything. Spending money on prevention is a investment with no return. It will not increase profit margins. It’s still the old way of thinking. We’re still in that loop. Money is the only measure. This isn’t only about this event. But it was, for me, another reminder that when it comes to doing better there’s still a lot of work to do.


Global News article

French language article


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