And with the power cut comes an increase in the already prevalent inactivity. Why are some countries so relaxed that they haven’t even got some of their most basic shit together, such as a power grid that doesn’t suffer remarkably frequent outages?
Cultural memes behave similarly to genetics, in that only the strongest; or to put it another way, the most persuasive or appealing; survive. There is some crossover. Cultural habits that affected a group’s ability to survive would die like the group itself.
We can therefore assume, being at an advanced stage in human history, that most habits present among the variety of earth’s peoples today either enabled them to continue surviving, or weren’t troublesome enough to wipe them out.
Longer term habits in which their consequences have not yet had enough time to be fully felt are exempt from this assumption, such as fossil fuel consumption. Looking no deeper than the present day would fool us into thinking that this habit holds no danger, even if looking back it evidently enabled a significantly larger chance of many groups of humans surviving in the short term.
Laziness in the Past
Let’s consider laziness. What are its effects? Would laziness affect one culture more or less than another? Considering our current apex of technological provisions which mean we take for granted what previous generations had to work very hard for, let’s look at the past.
In the Tropics
Would a lazy group in Thailand, Tanzania or Brazil have suffered threats to its survival compared with similar groups in Canada, Germany or Mongolia? We need only consider the abundance of tropical life all year round, compared with the dearth of it in northern winters.
One could have been as lazy as was possible in tropical countries and not only would still have had vegetation to help sustain you all year round, but the climate wouldn’t have killed your group were you without shelter. It is still not uncommon in such countries today to see adults asleep in hammocks outdoors at any hour.
In the North
Now imagine being lazy throughout the productive summer months in northern countries with harsh winters. Unlike the groups of conscientious labourers who would have done their best to ensure survival by working their socks off despite the pleasant seasonal weather, groups of lazy people would likely have failed to survive their first winter. No sufficient store of potatoes or firewood would have been gathered by people spending their summer days in hammocks.
Fast forward thousands of generations. Visit most tropical countries and you will find a very laid back way of life with not much urgency around anything. Don’t be surprised to wait ten minutes for your drink even as the only customer in a cafe.
Visit most northern countries and find largely well kept, clean and highly developed settlements and cities. Any genetic imprint of conscientiousness has survived down the generations, with that of laziness not only struggling to proliferate, but the lazy people themselves are often ostracized and seen as unattractive. Phrases like “The devil makes work for idle hands” permeate English speaking cultures.
Only in the present day, with modern agriculture and central heating, can laziness have another chance to proliferate in northern countries. Potential mothers are more likely to carry the children of charming, funny, but lazy men if there is no threat to their survival on the horizon owing to their inaction. Whereas in the tropics it never even had to be a consideration.
A Fairer Answer to Countries’ Differing Rates of Success
As a final thought, racial supremacists who like to espouse the relative achievements of caucasians as a basis for their disdain for others, might want to consider that the weather, and not any inherent genetic superiority, helped shaped the world we inhabit today; the trait of conscientiousness being forced by necessity to emerge more frequently in temperate or polar climes, regardless of ethnicity.