19 January 2006 sent to South China Morning Post
Ducking the issue
By Tony Henderson, chairman, Humanist Association of Hong Kong
A Hong Kong without ducks would be like Tibet without snow. Yet your indefatigable writer Kevin Sinclair wants them outlawed (Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2006)! I have no evidence to the contrary but something just tells me outlawing ducks is ‘quacking up the wrong tree’. Bird Flue is a flue inherent in birds, thus its name, and of course wild birds carry the bug and their weaker domesticated cousins are especially susceptible to that bug developing into a problem – for them.
That humans could catch that strain of flue is a distant possibility. But if that is the way the evolutionary currents are moving then we humans had better take it into account as we build our future. We will not benefit by shooting the duck but by better farming practices and ourselves better accommodating that bug by our human race including its antidote in our genetic makeup, thus making it part of our immune system’s arsenal.
We can do this by spreading the popularity of keeping ducks, chickens, pigeons, guinea fowl, geese and so on as useful additions to our life – not in public housing estates though – pigeons on those estate’s roof gardens are fine…
We must not encapsulate ourselves away from relatively benign contagion as then our bodies will not be able to fight the real aliens – the completely new virus. We must not flee experiences that in the end strengthen us spiritually, mentally and physically and our entire human race.
People are today ‘alarmed’ (sic) because of these daft reports. Those public personalities that are gunning for regulating ducks into oblivion are not farmers or gardeners, rather desk-bound grey people who have strayed far from the realities of life. The medicines industry (not the medical fraternity) are all set to make their own killing selling vaccines and getting World Bank loans to do that.
We will see those international institutions taking their quack solutions into undeveloped nations using their ill-gained international cash – mini-buses and high salaried jobs for the Boys locally with real profits going to Europe and the US internationally – given with the usual strings attached. The result will further reduce the effectiveness of those receiving country’s micro-economic systems and self-sufficient norms and add more victims to the ranks of the poor.
A duck, flying as it does very high, has a wider view of these things. By just being a duck, plain and simple, it offers the human race salvation. Let’s not denigrate the duck, rather see it in its rightful place among all the other useful creatures this fair earth.