Pecked to death by ducks

There is a scene in one of my favorite sci-fi series of all time in which one of the main characters is expressing his frustration with the daily flow of little deaths that define the life of a bureaucrat. It is of course a take-off of our Earthly expression "Being pecked to death by ducks", an expression of how thousands of little pinpricks can add up to some serious damage over time.  Each may be a mere annoyance, but taken together, they can topple empires.

In this case, cats did not topple the Centauri Republic. That required B5’s version of an Old God. But that’s another show.

Where we do find parallels, however, is in how we as citizens of Azeroth deal with little annoyances that have no seeming impact in the immediate sense. You see things every day that you decide aren’t worth getting excited about, until that day comes that everybody’s doing it because nobody raised voice to object.

It is good to know in our little universe that some people recognize this and work actively against it. While some will see a tiny injustice and shrug, "that’s the way the world works", there are others that step forward and state flatly, "that was wrong, and I’m calling you on it."

The former like to portray themselves as laid-back realists and the opposition as strident nitpickers. This is how it’s always been. "Don’t rock the boat" wasn’t invented by hipsters in 2007. Establishment types will hold the line as viciously as any attacker, all the while working hard to make it seem like a chilled-out real-world response.

So we hopeless idealists often find ourselves somewhat overwhelmed by an army of trolls at the anonymous beck and call of kindly patriarchs (or matriarchs, it’s happened). There’s not much you can do about it besides stick to your convictions in the knowledge that you are right to call people on their bullshit.   You may take damage in the process, but a core group of good people will think better of you for it.

The world IS out to get you if you aren’t just going along for the ride. If you challenge convention and the old world order, you will be savaged and drug through the mud. Your worldview will be challenged by an endless stream of "trivial" things that mean practically nothing by themselves, but in aggregate represent a larger evil that has to end.

If your cause is just and your reasoning sound, however, you will have company in your travels. A herd of nibbling cats, spread out over a wider sample, can be withstood.


Just watch out for those zebras.


Posted on January 6, 2012, in Blogosphere, Geek culture, Meta. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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