Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Dog, Cat, Rat: Metaphor for Human Relations? Hardly!

A friend sent a link to a short YouTube video showing a dog patiently sitting with a cat perched on his back, and a rat sitting on the cat's back -- in a gracious harmony. Concludes my friend: "Now if they can do it....why can't human beings do it?"


Human beings DO do it. Most humans, most of the time, in most places.

Don't let the assholes skewer your perceptions too much. Go to a ball game, or a concert, or the movies, or a mall on a Saturday afternoon. See all those people, of every type, getting along? They aren't fighting. There aren't hardly any police around, even. When the assholes start fighting, or shooting, or hating, or launch wars, it makes headlines.

By contrast, when a dog and a cat and a rat get along, the video gets one million hits on YouTube. A video clip of a black and a white and an Indian sitting on a bench talking quietly or playing cards together wouldn't get a million viewers on YouTube - it wouldn't be news.

Perspective, buddy.

Not that there's anything wrong with group below sponsoring even more goodness and getting-alongness -- the assholes sure do make life hard on the rest of us.

I read a book where the author argues that the Us and Them, or the Tribe and the Other distinction, which is built into humans (and other animals), is a chief culprit. When you can view some people as Others, you can with amazing equanimity do the most horrible things to them, things you'd never do to people in your own tribe. The author argued that the spread of getting-along and the growing perception around the world that cruelty to others is a bad idea, is based on the growth of the idea that all men are brothers, all of us are one tribe -- the growth of the circle of Us and the narrowing of the circle of Other. And that the key to more civilization in the world is pushing the idea that there are no Others, there is only one tribe. To make it harder to contemplate acts of brutality. I like that idea; this group that sponsors this video is pushing that idea too, which is good. Their underlying argument is specious ("If they can do it why can't we?") but what they are trying to do is dead on.

No comments: