Which Came First? The Chicken or the Egg?

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Don’t all people just love this scientific question? I know the Japanese do. I hear this kind of thing here all the time.

At work, all the broadcast stations here in Japan are having a hard time getting money and new sponsors. This, in turn, leads them to becoming more “risk aversive” in their programming. Which leads to more programming that targets the “lowest common denominator.” The lowest common denominator, means, well, “the dumb people.”

Since the programming targets the lowest common denominator, the intelligent people stop watching or listening because the broadcasting can be an insult to one’s intelligence. You have the same problem in America. I consider this idea whether I am watching some silly Japanese slap-stick comedy show or some idiotic American TV show.

As far as American TV is concerned, we can throw in just about every program on Fox TV into this garbage heap of stupidity (besides “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill” — if only because these shows mirror exactly the lunacy of current American society). I also would give the “Dolt Award” to Fox News’s “O’Reilly Factor.” (Long since cancelled in Japan — no surprise there.) And to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.

Odd, isn’t it? The broadcasting stations, both here and there, are all losing money, yet they continually lower their quality and the intelligence level of their programming in an effort to garner better ratings. But, if they continue to do so, and the more intelligent people stop tuning in — doesn’t that mean that the people with money are no longer part of the audience?

It stands to reason that the people with money are the ones who can afford new and “higher end” goods — thereby more profitable products? Aren’t the intelligent people the ones who make more money than the people who fit into the lowest common denominator?

So if the broadcast stations keep lowering their standards — yet still lose money — or if they are losing money, so they lower their standards; this makes me ask the question, “Which came first? The loss of sponsorships, so the programming quality dropped? Or due to the low quality of programming, the sponsors have dropped off?”

“Which came first? The chicken or the egg?”

In a recent CBS News Poll, seven in ten Americans say Americans are resigned to living with the threat of terrorism in the U.S. I find this incredible. What is the most astounding part about this is that it seems that people in the States haven’t put “two and two together” to figure out why they live in fear of foreign terrorists.

Consider this: for example, one day the Bush administration says that there is danger of a terrorist attack; they issue a “terror alert.” That day on “Main Street, USA,” you will see dozens of soldiers and police armed with automatic weapons. “Mr. Jones” sees these police standing around with these weapons.

Now wouldn’t this cause Mr. Jones to feel that there is a need to fear something? Wouldn’t he feel uncomfortable? I know I would.

Mr. Jones and the others see these “security forces,” so they feel fear; so what’s the government’s answer to making them feel safer? Why, it’s even more police with automatic weapons standing around “Anytown in Anywhere, USA.”

The federal government thinks:

“We’ll put even more police out and about town.” So, what does “Mrs. Smith” think when she sees them? She thinks, “There must be something going on here! There are more police out than last time!” So she, and everyone else, begins to feel even more fear.

So now we have many police and soldiers standing around with weapons; “Mr. Jones” and “Mrs. Smith” feel afraid. Is that surprising?

It’s kind of like a prison. You will find the most insecure people in our society living inside of what is referred to as a “Maximum Security Prison.” It is a screaming contradiction, isn’t it?

Which came first? The soldiers or the fear?

Some people might say, “The fear came first.” That’s possible. But I question that conclusion.

Let’s examine the most famous common experience of recent America: the September 11, 2001 attack on New York’s Twin Towers.

As you know, the official story goes, “Terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into buildings. America was attacked.”

The Bush administration claims that America must exact revenge for crimes against America. Osama Bin Laden claims that the September 11 attacks were revenge for crimes by America against Islam and the Muslim people. Which is correct?

George W. Bush makes the claim that America was attacked because, “The terrorists hate our freedoms.” David Plotz, the deputy editor of MSNBC’s Slate says, “…(Bin Laden and the terrorists) don’t want anything from us. They don’t want our sympathy. They want no material thing we can offer them.”

So what do the terrorists want?

They want the U.S. to stop meddling in their affairs, and they want the US to be more even-handed when it comes to Israel and Palestine.

This seems obvious: American support of Israel looks very biased from the point of view of the Arab countries and this Israeli and Palestinian problem has created the terrorism. Add to this, American aggression in Iraq, and you have a “cycle.”

Did the September 11 attacks make the American government retaliate? Or were those attacks retaliation for American government actions? Which came first? The terrorism; or the retaliation?

Or is the “retaliation,” terrorism? — I suppose this depends on “which side” you are on. Which came first, America? The terrorism or the retaliation — or the retaliation and then the terrorism? The chicken or the egg?

This gets confusing, doesn’t it? But, actually, this is grade school science.

This “chicken and egg question” seems like it has no answer. But, actually, it does: In a philosophical sense, if you consider that any situation is always changing; always adapting, you might call that situation, as being “alive” or “living.”

All God’s creatures progress through changes in their DNA. In an animal, DNA from a male and a female meet and combine to form a “zygote” — the first cell. This first cell multiplies itself to form all of the cells of the complete animal. In any animal, every cell contains exactly the same DNA, since that DNA came from the zygote.

Chickens educed over many years from non-chickens through small changes caused by mutations to the DNA that produced the first cell. These changes and mutations only have an effect at the point where a new first cell is created.

Simply put, two non-chickens mated and the DNA in their new zygote contained the mutation(s) that produced the first true chicken. That one first cell divided to produce the first true chicken.

Before that first true chicken zygote, there were only non-chickens. The first cell is the only place where DNA mutations could produce a new animal, and the zygote cell is housed in the chicken’s egg.

So, to answer the question that most people think there is no answer to:

“Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” The egg had to have come first.

Now, take the above scientific equation and turn it into a philosophical question that deals with your life in America today — Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you live in fear today? If so, which came first: The police or the fear?
  • Do you fear terrorism now? If so, which came first: September 11, 2001, or American support of right-wing Israeli actions and/or US troops being stationed in Saudi Arabia?
  • Did you feel this much fear four years ago? If so, which came first, George W. Bush or this fear?

Each of us can only answer these questions for ourselves. We cannot speak for anyone else. The problem for you is, can you really be honest with yourself and answer truthfully — disregarding the mass media targeting of the lowest common denominator?

You now have the time to give serious thought to this question. You may decide your answer and you may act upon it on November 2nd, 2004.

- This article inspired by my friend and Zen Master Robert Klassen.

Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has worked as an independent writer, producer, and personality in the mass media for nearly 30 years.

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