Let’s play alien.
No, not the kind who crosses our border. I mean the real, scary, futuristic space-ship kind. The ones with no hair, all wearing the same clothes (or none at all!), and used to say “take me to your leader.” They don’t say that anymore because we realized that if they’d come here from great distances they’d have to be pretty smart. And even the dumbest human knows our leaders are useless.
The fun part of being a student of behavior is that we get to look at the most ordinary behaviors in fresh new ways. A very fun way to do this is to pretend we’re not from here. Where are we from? Let’s say we’re from Rigel.
So we land in a typical urban suburb. What do we see? Many dwellings, nicely lined up. Each has a bit of land between them, and often there’s some kind of thin divider as well. What does all this mean?
We watch a while and realize the dwellings are where family units live. The dividers keep the families apart, and the land is something the families spend much time on. In fact, it appears that much attention is spent on the land, perhaps even more than the dwelling.
And if we watch for a longer while, we realize that our natives seem fascinated with keeping their land green. Any other colors that intrude are immediately removed. Yellow dandelions, purple violets, white mushrooms, even off-green clover is considered unclean.
The lengths to which our natives go to remove these colors is also extreme. They intentionally poison the land in order to heighten the green and kill the other plants. Yet that same poison means they have to tend the green even more (it grows faster) and they have to take extra precautions against the poison. For instance, they can’t walk on their green soon after poisoning it.
Finally we look around and try to understand their economy. Ahh, there it is. A large industry exists to sell poison and keep the green, green. It’s important to these creatures, and they have made it part of their society. This will make for an interesting conversation around the sprooggle cooler back on Rigel.
And what a coincidence. Can you guess the color of sprooggle?