Thursday, April 14, 2005

Understanding rarely comes easy, or quickly for that matter. Often times it takes time, time and more time... looking a situation from all angles. Example? A mouse, a mongoose and an island.

In 1883, 72 mongoose were brought to Hawaii and released along the Hilo coast. Their purpose was simple: to address and rid Hawaii of the serious rat problem in the sugarcane fields. There was only one problem with this plan: mongoose are day hunters for food and night sleepers, while rats are day sleepers and a night hunters for food. Needless to say, the two populations rarely encountered each other. And if this wasn't bad enough, now Hawaii has not only a serious rat problem, but also a mongoose problem. So what went wrong?

In Hawaii there is only two native species of mammals, the Hawaiian Hoary Bat (Lasirus cinereus semotus), and the Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi). The lack of native mammals leaves Hawaiian ecosystems very vunerable, native species have not evolved defenses to the mammalian predators and herbivores that have been introduced in the last 300-1000 years. Therefore making native species very vulnerable to attack. Add on the warm tropical climate in Hawaii, lack of competitiors and predators, and this archipelago provides an ideal habitat for nearly all introduced mammals - like the mongoose - to become established.

Two of the islands of Hawaii, Kauai and Lanai, are the only two islands today that are relatively free of the undesirable alien known as the mongoose. The mongoose, which feeds on the eggs and fledglings of ground-nesting birds, is seen by the Department of Land an Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife as a threat to wildlife. And to think that in the beginning, the mongoose began as the golden solution to a serious problem.

It's one of the great - and sometimes humorous - flaws of human nature: the primary failing in our solutions finds its origin in the manner in which we define our "problems." How often we think that others are placed on this planet to simply annoy us, when in essence, they're just acting out their personal role of what constitutes human nature. We seem to think that as soon as the world "out there" is straightened out, the world "in here" (our own personal life) will be just fine. It rarely - if ever - works that way, my friend.

It was Albert Einstein who eloquently stated, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." It's when we think that our thinking is the end-all... when sometimes it's just the beginning...

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