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Let’s Talk About Pets

October 1, 2015

When it comes to analyzing humanity, making comparisons can be a useful tool. It’s also easy: humans are like lemmings, or cancer, a virus… humanity is a machine. But one doesn’t need go to such extremes to find analogies for the human condition. All things being equal, the simplest comparison is often the most accurate: we are like our pets.

This goes beyond internet memes of dog and owner look-alike photos. It goes back four thousand years, to the time when wildcats were first employed against rodents. It goes back forty thousand years, to the time when wolves were adopted as guard animals.

In the beginning the relationship was symbiotic, or at least mutual: both parties received something from the other party, which made it beneficial to remain in each other’s company. But as time went on the pets forgot how to fend for themselves, just like we have. They became dependent on the hand feeding them. Yet even when they stopped doing their job, it continued to.

Can you imagine getting paid whether you did your job or not? Wouldn’t you rather lounge around the house and soak up the rays?

The problem is, evolution is a one-way street. You can’t put the wolf back in the dog. As fierce as a feral kitten might be, she’ll drink a bowl of milk when no one’s looking. And humans, the most domestic of animals, would destroy themselves before willingly reverting to a lifestyle that didn’t include indoor plumbing and all the marvels of the Age of Entitlement.

Of course there are exceptions, like the military. Gathering in groups and fighting other groups is an animal trait that’s never left humanity, so I suppose it makes sense it escapes the metaphor.

Dogs can be trained, too.

In fact they require it. And so it is with humanity: we’ve traveled a long way down the road of technological dependence. Survival is no longer an ability to find shelter and kill something for dinner; it’s learning to read, and type, and drive. It’s being able to hold down a job and keep your budget balanced.

It’s looking good, so the right someone might take you home.

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From → Rants

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