Once it was thought the dodo had died out. A claim difficult to fathom, since now a day without dodos is inconceivable, so complete has been their comeback. Three theories have been advanced for this remarkable and unprecedented resurgence. One theory holds the dodo was never in real danger of disappearing. Instead, it took advantage of an uncanny skill at camouflage and passed itself off as any number of other life forms, all the way down to the level of worms. Because this trait had not been noticed before, or at least had not been taken seriously by observers, the dodo found it could come and go as it pleased without detection. The ruse proved especially helpful whenever some terrible mess or other occurred and the expected call arose for investigations to find “the dodos responsible for this outrage.” In nearly every case, not a single responsible dodo was ever identified. The second theory states that those recognized as dodos today were not true dodos to begin with. Rather, they actually sought to pass themselves off as dodos when it grew apparent that being one offered a definite advantage, especially when it came to being sought after for high corporate and cabinet posts, among other opportunities. When dodo-like behavior not only became acceptable but was lavishly rewarded, this explanation posits, a veritable explosion occurred in the number of presumed dodos, and they quickly become the dominant life form encountered nearly everywhere. It was the best of times for the dodo, and if acting and sounding like one was the key to that good fortune, then who could argue with that? The third theory has sometimes been characterized as the “who cares anyway?” interpretation of developments. According to this line of thinking, once there were no longer any clear criteria for separating what was traditionally understood to be a genuine dodo from growing legions of dodo wannabes and neo-dodos, few could see the point any longer of even bothering to try. “Why not simply accept the status quo?” was the common attitude. With nothing to hold it back, dodoism would naturally, like water, seek its own level. So resisting and not resisting the course of events amounted to the same thing. The dodo, no matter how one defined it, was here to stay. Curiously, recent census figures are inconclusive about the number of dodos actually self-identifying as such. This uncertainty may simply be due to statistical error, of course.
Copyright © 2007 by Geoffrey Grosshans