Being Human

Since this is a personal blog and personal blogging is mostly about expressing opinions, I realize now that I have had no opinion posts. Writing opinions is tricky though because of the diversity in human thoughts. People don’t want to believe anything contradictory to what they have learned in life. It does not fit their understanding of the ‘universe’. My small reader group, however, gives me freedom. Most of my readers until now are from a group I know outside the blogosphere and so I have faith that they won’t mind spending some time on my broodings. And I deal with a highly philosophical question today, a question that has perplexed mankind for long and caused a great divide between the two genders of this highly evolved species on Earth- ‘Are men dog?’
I come from a middle class Indian family because of which my upbringing had been in a locality that had an abundance of street dogs. I grew up feeding the malnourished street dogs from an early age and have great affection for their kind. If I may add, I have found dogs to be among the best animals in our world. They are faithful, coordinating, and live in gangs which have much in common with the human idea of society. The more glorified families of vertebrates such as Lions, for instance, have very less similarity with our ways of life. But let’s not indulge into too much science here, science ruins philosophy.

Now that I have introduced my feelings for dogs, let me start the comparison between the two aforesaid species. The lives of both, men and dogs, begins with training. We take birth and are taught what to do and what not to. Mothers are our first teachers and make us what we are when we get into adolescence. It may not be comfortable to those grown up now (lions in their imagination) but their fate was decided by the kind of training they got from their parents. Our childhood forms us, whether we like it or not. Each little decision we take determines our future and there is no escaping this reality. In comparison, dogs too receive their training from their mothers. For a street dog, it is mostly about learning to cross the street, killing mice and chasing cats. In conjunction, they learn to be faithful to those households that feed them. I won’t include the dogs who live in posh houses, drive in luxury cars and eat pedigree. No sir, they are a disgrace to the dog kind. An analogy in humans will be the kids of overly rich parents who get sent to expensive boarding schools which ‘train’ them to ‘make a man’ of themselves. To me, that’s a short cut. That was not how mammals are supposed to evolve, not even ‘lions’. Let your mother have the credit of forming you, that is the least they deserve. One of my my favorite saying is from the novel Catch-22 which goes something like:

XYZ “had a poor start, he came from a good family”

                                   (But maybe more on that in a later post)

The next stage in our lives is that of adulthood. It’s the age where we learn the importance of independence leaving the cocoon we have been sheltered in. The immediate reaction to which is reflected in adolescence with identity crisis. Humans seek affection of those nearby. A need for recognition and dependence. So is the case with dogs. They search for appropriate masters for themselves and dedicate their lives in service for little in return. Sleepless nights spent in service of someone who bothers as much about you. It’s a pathetic life from the outsight, but certainly more human than wearing ‘Being Human’ t-shirts and drinking alcohol in parks or, just to be a bit harsher because I don’t like his films, running over people asleep on the sidewalk.
A funny thing about adulthood is that we often get labeled ‘dogs’ for reasons quite unrelated to dog-behavior. Dogs are faithful and would rather sacrifice their lives for their masters.

Now moving on to death, I try to stand against another saying that calls a bad death as ‘dying a dog’s death’. This is a strong statement, and because it is strong, it falls harder. To state it outright- we all die a dog’s death. If we die early in life, we have unfulfilled goals, unfulfilled desires and often have deep regrets for having lived our lives the way we had. Emotions drag us down to the level of animals. Getting killed in a car accident is no better than the death of a dog that you see getting run over by a truck. Contrarily, most probably the dog would have been happier. Death in old age is no better for the fear of loneliness. I have not yet had a personal experience with that age but have observed that the hokum of independence goes away for most of us. Interdependence is most evident to us when we have no one to care for us. Make no mistakes; we all die alone- ‘a dog’s death’. Or maybe even worse.

Let me sum it all up with an example. I had a very poor show at the exam today. I have a habit of studying just the last night before the exam but sleep got better of me this time and I got into the exam hall with less than 2 hours of studies. To add to my misery, the invigilator in our room was a beautiful teacher who listened to music over her earphones while governing the exam. And to restate for those not regular at following my blog, I have been having latent feelings of what I feel is love for a girl I don’t know well enough. Blaming my mammalian genes, when I first saw the teacher my reaction was that of a dog. She was beautiful even in her late 30s and to and spoke with careful sweetness in her words. I spent the first hour thinking of what I have written in front of you. When the gray matter got back to me, I invoked my dog nature of faithfulness. Like everyone else, I like to live like a lion, or an eagle. But as said before, emotions drag us to the level of animals. I could have contrasted dogs and humans with the concept of self-awareness and explained the reason why human race is such a success but it would make the post too long and uninteresting. Just to touch upon the idea though, close your eyes and imagine yourself outside your body. With your copied soul, stand in the corner of the room and look at yourself sitting, reading this article. You should be able to perform this exercise effortlessly, and be able to draw conclusions about yourself. This gift is unique to humans and one of the reasons why our society has been a success.

A bad ending ruins half the effort but unfortunately, I can think of no other way to conclude this post other than an reassurance that being called a dog is not as bad as it may seem. There are worse things you could be called. Printed t-shirts are the worst things that happened to the fashion industry the previous century and next time you see someone wearing that ‘being human’ shirt, try judging if he really behaves as he proclaims. The answer in most cases (I have done the experiment) is no.

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