Last Friday night, I was crammed tight into the Toronto subway along with thousands of other warm bodies moving slowly north. The train slowed to inchworm pace and we received a message: Personal injury at track level.
You know as well as I do what that means. Everyone did.
Thousands of us were dumped out against a chill north wind at the city’s central intersection (Yonge & Bloor), milling around, waiting for shuttle buses that rarely came.
A great opportunity for violence, right? You know, competition, selfish genes, survival of the fittest … Nah. There was none. A few crazy people were yelling at themselves and a splitting couple was yelling at each other. People passively cleared whatever space was available, so that they could carry on.
In one of the most multicultural environments on Earth, no one had an opinion except dispraise of the transit commission. But that’s routine social noise. As most acknowledged, what IS the commission supposed to do when someone decides to … ?
One shop clerk told me, “My husband drives subway. He’s been in a few of these. It takes a while to get the driver calmed down. They want to quit. And then you have to get the train out of there, as well as get the … ”
… get the … ah, yes, I understand.
Just think, it never occurred to anyone I heard from (and I heard from plenty) that we should not all pause in our thousands in the whipping wind, while this tragic matter was addressed.
A fundamental characteristic of humans is awareness of the significance of death.
Finally, the subway opened again, and the passive crowd flowed north like a massive wave.
I’d be far more interested in studies of large, passive crowds (the type with which I am familiar) than studies of the alleged selfish gene.