Watching a nature show is a lot like watching a football game. We pick our team and root for their victory. We hope the antelope escapes the crocodile, and the eagle catches the fish. We want the mouse to escape the snake, and the cat to catch the gopher. And the car to hit the cat…oh wait..no, sorry…
It seems we tend to root for the animals we relate to, the most human-like. Is that so wrong? I prefer a furry, four-legged creature as a pet over a legless, nasty reptile. It seems natural. Until recently, I’ve noticed a concerning psychological trend taking place. Let me give you a little background.
For a recent office Cinco De Mayo party, we had four pinatas each with a different employee’s picture on it. Mine was included (no worries they picked people that would not be offended and were well-liked). Being the only female in the lineup, the party planner felt weird putting a picture of a woman for people to beat with a stick and instead put puppy pictures all over it. Not that this mattered to me. My pinata was the first to go.
A couple of days later as a group of us stared up at the remaining, dangling pinata skulls someone mentioned, “I wonder why yours was the first to go, Andy. I mean, who would want to hit puppies?” I laughed and then took a moment for me to realize what this meant.
“As opposed to a human?” I laughed thinking they would see the irony. They did not. And the debate began. I proposed the hypothetical:
If you HAD to hit an undeserving human or an undeserving dog in the head with a bat and knowing you could potentially inflict permanent damage, which would you hit? (Always draw the word “haaaaad” out for the one person who always ends up saying, “But I wouldn’t want to do either…” OKAY yes, virtuous person, we know that. None of us do. That’s the point.)
Nearly every single person said the human.
What has happened here? It’s almost as if the human race has gotten a bad reputation, even the innocent ones. I presented all my arguments: what about their families? What about the brain damage? Wouldn’t brain damage be worse for a human than for a dog? Nothing mattered. Across the board, the human would have to go. This seems like a huge red flag for humanity.
Humans have gotten so bitter toward each other that we’ve begun bestowing greater value to the lives of animals than to each other, particularly dogs. Yes, as a species, we’ve done some terrible things, but let’s not forget all the wonderful things we have done. Collectively and individually. We are high-functioning, dynamic creatures with immense potential. We experience life with a complexity of emotion and diverse experiences. Dogs are great fun and really wonderful companions (I mean, so I’ve read in some of my favorite books) and are deemed man’s best friend, but come on, they are in no way equal to humans. I’m not talking about evil, horrible humans. Remember the hypothetical beating was undeserved by both victims. Although humans have the potential to be monsters, let’s not overlook the 4.4 million people a year are bitten by a dog in the United States, resulting in an estimated 885,000 injuries that require medical attention, according to theCenters for Disease Control (CDC). So the argument that humans have the potential to be rotten is no argument- dogs have it to (just see the nasty beast behind my house that growls and snarls at me every day and would not hesitate to kill me if it weren’t for that gate).
The question comes to this, have we allowed our disgust of select individual humans to build to a level of resentment that we have lost hope and love for all of humanity? Do animals deserve more HUMANe treatment than humans? Recent conversations suggest yes. Even my best friends disagree with me. My co-workers looked at me like I was a monster for choosing to hit the dog over the human. WHAT? I can’t tell you how often I feel like this clip here:
I don’t know guys. I guess I’m just on my own on this one. Many of you are likely wishing this hypothetical would become a reality and you could come at me with a bat. Probably the only thing we can all agree on is how morbid and sick this whole conversation is. Dogs would never talk like this.