The Human Animal

So, Siridog got her ass kicked earlier this week. Indisputably and thoroughly kicked. Ended up at the vet with shots and meds and a cone of shame, but thankfully, no surgery. I’ve taken to telling people, when they see us on a walk and ask what happened, that she got in a fight at the bar. But really, she got totalled by a cat.

My oldest weedling has two cats, each large enough to be mistaken for feline Shaquille O’Neals. Except that they aren’t nearly as industrious. But they are that big. Clark is a gray and white, cute-faced stoner. Either that, or he was dropped on his head as a kitten. Laid back and chill, you can almost hear Bob Meowly singing reggae in his head. George is a typical gray tabby, except supersized. He is generally pleasant, slow-moving, and could easily be mistaken for Garfield if he were shot in black and white. She has had both of these cats her entire adulthood. And they’ve never bothered anyone.

But as sometimes happens in apartment living, she needed them out of the abode so a repairman could let himself in (They like to try to scoot out when an unsuspecting visitor enters). She brought them to my place with the original intent of shutting them in the bathroom. But after watching for an hour, she saw nothing to prohibit letting them out. Stoner cat was sharing a bowl of kibble with Siri in perfect camaraderie, and George was ignoring everyone. So she made the decision to let them be.

Fast forward  a couple of hours later. The youngest weedling comes home and gathers up Siridog for her afterschool walk. He immediately put her back down because she whimpered. Then he noticed his arms were covered in blood. Rather than freak out, he immediately called his sister, who came and scooted her off to the vet. She was in contact with me the whole time, knowing i would be a mess if i lost my Mexican mutt baby. And she felt terrible that George, who we knew was guilty by his ducking and hiding, would do such a thing.

Now, Siri weighs less than half George.  If he had wanted to kill her, he would have. But in spite of all the blood, there were no cuts that went thru the fascia, and there were no bite marks anywhere near her neck. What that told me was that George was trying to prove a point to Siri. And prove it, he did. He was the Alpha. And tho the outpouring of sympathy was overwhelming and the cat critics were thunderous, i couldn’t be too mad at George. I’ve no doubt that he got too close to Siri’s sleeping place or favorite toy, and she growled or barked, sparking him to demonstrate his mettle. That’s what animals do. They fight to be king. It’s their nature. How can i fault George for behaving the way he was made to?

My inability to be angry at him got me to thinking about man equivalent.

My middle weedling is on her way today to an internship at the United States Institute for Peace. And tho it may seem contrary to send a military person to the USIP, in reality, it makes perfect sense. Douglas MacArthur said, “The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” Being able to broker for peace will make her a better and more principled and ethical (And hopefully less war-torn) soldier.

And lets face it, we all want world peace

But realistically, man is, in many ways, little more than an animal. Especially when up against a wall . And we can’t expect an animal to behave like anything but an animal. We can’t expect it to want to be anything but Alpha. And we can’t expect it not to fight.  So in a world fraught with dictators and hunger and poverty~ both in pocket and in soul~ How do we find peace?

The minority religion guerillas who feel threatened and bomb their way to Alpha. The socially disordered who are desperately spiritually hungry and shoot their way to Alpha. The inner city kids who feel disposable and punk their way to Alpha. From a feral perspective, the violence isn’t the least bit surprising. They feel cornered by circumstance, by life, and in an attempt to escape, bare tooth and claw. Just like your average junkyard cat.

Of course i don’t advocate violence. I wish i had the power to stop them and make them all take a breather with some milk and oreos and maybe, for once, try to talk to each other. Try to find a way besides killing. Pull a Robert Fulghum and bring them all to a table laden with crayons and paper and legos and keep them there til they learn to play together. Make them eat together. Make them rely on each other. Maybe then they will elevate over their own nature and become more than an animal.

But the fact remains that we’ve been trying various methods since the beginning of mankind, and in spite of the efforts, there has always been war. On any given day, there are insurgents or enemies or just plain punks. For every bully who repents, there is another to take their place. Which makes for a vile and repulsive truth: Those who broker for peace will never have the success or profits of those who broker for war.

And yet, some will continue to push for peace. Against the odds, they soldier on. Hoping the animal will regain its humanity. Hoping to salve and heal the need to be Alpha. Hoping the human animal elevates itself to something more than the cats and rats and wolves. Reading the news each day makes me wonder how the peace keepers can keep up the fight. They must truly be people of faith. Faith in humanity.

I can’t help but wonder, sometimes, if that faith is misplaced.

But i trust that my weedling and her ilk have the fortitude and the patience to soldier on in the face of history and animal nature. Such respect i have for their tenacity and passion to make the world a safer and more harmonious place. And with her military training, my daughter will be able to keep others safe when the animals rage. Like a zookeeper for human animals.

I guess that makes her the Alpha.


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