Meerkat Mythology in Safety
The meerkat is the ultimate symbol of the mob, the gang, ruthless horde and the vicious pack. Aspiring to be like a meerkat is like elevating the Hells Angels to the status as a charity service. Ah yes, but this is Safety.
When we look at the social behaviour of the meerkat we see high levels of aggression leading to vicious harm and death to other meerkats. The meerkat mob is the epitome of the mythology of the ‘survival of the fittest’.
If you are a meerkat and weak, vulnerable or frail to the purposes of the mob, you’re dead or rejected. If you are born weak in a meerkat mob, you’re killed. Indeed, dominant females go around killing the subordinate litters of other meerkats. Some subordinate meerkats will kill the pups of dominant members of the mob in order to improve their own offspring’s position. If you are a subordinate female meerkat you get the boot out of the pack, they are on their own and don’t last long. Such is the social behaviour of the meerkat.
Don’t fall for the spin of meerkat mythology. In a similar way safety falls for the mythology of the dancing guy ( Lemmings for Lemmings in Leadership and Risk and non-Leadership in Risk ). Hey but how could one expect more from an industry that hates critical thinking!
However, when you are in safety and are looking for a symbol for identity you just believe whatever you want to suit your behaviourist goal. Then just ignore anything else so that you can create your own truth. Such is the naivety of an industry that wants to believe ‘alternative facts’ and ‘fake news’. How about a little bit of research:
Nowak, R. M. (2005). Walker’s Carnivores of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 219–221. (https://archive.org/details/walkerscarnivore00nowa)
kinner, J. D.; Chimimba, C. T. (2005). van der Horst, D. (ed.). The Mammals of the Southern African Subregion (3rd ed.). Cape Town: Cambridge University Press. pp. 428–432.
Griffin, A. S. (2003). “A genetic analysis of breeding success in the cooperative meerkat (Suricata suricatta)”. Behavioral Ecology. 14 (4): 472–480.
Young, A. J.; Spong, G. & Clutton-Brock, T. (2007). “Subordinate male meerkats prospect for extra-group paternity: alternative reproductive tactics in a cooperative mammal”. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 274 (1618): 1603–1609.
Young, A. J. & Clutton-Brock, T. (2006). “Infanticide by subordinates influences reproductive sharing in cooperatively breeding meerkats”. Biology Letters. 2 (3): 385–387.
Meerkats are part of the animal kingdom and in order to survive as a vulnerable species must smash weakness in their mob in order to survive, that’s the way ‘survival of the fittest’ works. That’s not how humans work. If it were so we would have no health services, disability services, community services, insurance and compensation services and mental health services. Under the meerkat model its just pragmatic to exterminate and reject the weak for the survival of the pack. Pack mentality is not human mentality. Pack mentality ought not to be safety mentality.
Under the model of ‘survival of the fittest’ weakness, vulnerability and frailty are things that expose the pack to harm. The only way the pack can survive is if such weakness and vulnerability is eradicated. This is the kind of safety Worksafe NZ wants (https://safetyrisk.net/meerkat-safety-can-it-get-more-dumb/ ), this is the model Safety wants:
How wonderful for Safety to ignore and omit the truth about meerkats in its quest to portray some idea of teamwork and instinct and then conveniently omit the brutality of ‘survival of the fittest’. How convenient for Safety to invent some strange idea of instinct as human, when such instinct seeks to destroy its own for the survival of the mob. How crazy to portray the power of the mob when humans model living on community, helping, compassion for the weak and vulnerable and, the humanizing of disability. Of course there is no comparison between meerkat social behavior and that of humans. There is no comparison of intuitions or even social behavior; this is all an invention of Safety. It doesn’t exist.
Of course Safety is not a helping profession it’s a policing activity, ah that’s right Worksafe NZ weed out the weak, crush the vulnerable and dehumanize the injured. What a great model for safety. Keep up the campaign of brutalism in the quest for zero, that’s the meerkat way.