Are We Much Different From Our Pets?
Dad was typical of thousands of men: He worked hard at his job, brought home the bacon, and made regular mortgage payments to keep his house and the land on which it stood. As commonly understood, he was “getting somewhere.” He was “successful.”
One summer afternoon I realized that Punky, the family dog, was, by the same criteria, even more successful than Dad. Now, we all lived in the same comfortable house, ate good food regularly, and so forth.
But the dog, employing a different method of deed registration, owned a good deal more land than Dad. She owned all of our yard, big pieces of our neighbors’ yards to the left and the right, about 2/3 of a block of public roadway, and generous slices of the yards of our neighbors who lived across the street.
How did she do it? Having no problem with the humanity who lived in the houses on these various lots, she simply beat the hell out of other animals who trespassed on her domain. (We might call this the “fang-and-claw” method of deed registration.)
The point is that much of what we humans do with our lives, is, barring the complexity of our activities, not so different from what animals do. Yet we feel, no—-we’re sure we’re better than the animals. Are we? Is life hierarchical, with human beings at the top of the pyramid and the Almighty above that? Or is life a great circle, with the Almighty, however you understand Him/Her, at the center, and every creature on the same level? Can you find anything in history, sacred literature, or tradition(s), to support the latter idea?
What is implied by the idea of a Great Circle of Life, with no creature any “further away” from the Almighty than any other? Would this “equality” increase or decrease our peace, or power? Would seeing life this way change our behavior? How?
What do you think?