We took Katie to the Sacramento Zoo this past weekend and while we had a good time, I came back with the general impression that we’re doing a terrible disservice to the animals there. Seeing the Orangutan, which translates from Malay to man of the forest, really pushed me over the top and convinced me that detaining animals for out amusement is really terribly wrong.
The Orangutan seemed more like a primitive early human to me than what one might call an animal. Later I read about a condition called Zoochosis that surfaces in animals kept in captivity. For some species the trauma caused by captivity is more obvious through their behavior but I suspect all animals in captivity suffer from some level of Zoochosis. This seems logical at least.
Humans in Voluntary Captivity
Then I began to noodle over my own captivity provided by our society. Everyday I sit incented to work at this desk in the captivity of my home office. The captivity is voluntary to a degree since my bills would not get paid if I left my desk. Since I want to live in society I must conform to a certain set of activities in order to maintain the protection this societal cage provides.
Then my thinking moves out to the other people in society and the unnatural environment we’ve constructed and wonder the same thing. Could we all be clinging to the imaginary bars of our cages wishing subconsciously that they would disappear, while at the same time working hard to maintain the system that makes them very real?
This would explain my own fascination with the freedom tiny houses represent and their growing popularity with the general public. When times are good and we’re well-fed our cage bars seem more like comforting protection than a trap. When times are tough the bars feel as if they close-in on us increasing the pressure and stress we feel.
Everyone reacts differently to stress. I think I’ve been observing two common reactions from humans in captivity. Some cling to the system and wish things improve so they can go back to their happiness inside the cage, so they keep up their normal routines as best they can. Others freak out a bit and work to escape as they realize the cage is really a trap, and begin to reject the system and attempt to reinvent it in another form.
The trouble with all of us animals, in and out of the zoo, is that our cages are part of a much bigger world. If the zoo animal escapes it will be recaptured or killed, depending on the danger it represents. If we escape and reject our society we are subject to living a dramatically different life or jailed, depending on the danger we represent.
So we’re all very much stuck in a catch-22 unless the entire system changes. I bet this is why there are so many people wishing-for and preparing-for civilization collapse. They’ve collapsed under the weight of society and their stress reaction is to see things that may or may not be there. Or you could look at from their perspective and say they’ve woken up to the lie the cage represents and see the looming systemic failure approaching.
In Search of Solutions
I’m always in search of ways to have my cake and eat it too, which may also be a problem because I’ll tend to cling to the old while seeking the new. For example extreme downsizing seems more and more like the right direction to move in but it’s just a smaller version of the societal cage we all live in now. But it also might be a point along the path to finding real freedom.
I’m also really beginning to believe that seeking a natural modern human environment might need to be part of my ultimate goal. I’m not sure what this is exactly, but I suspect it involves other like-minded people living tribally (for lack of a better word).
This last statement of course suggests a step backwards but I don’t know if that is really a requirement. We have definitely gone too far, but I doubt if going back to how we lived 10,000 years ago is the answer. It must be something in between.
So now you can clearly see that I think too much… or that I’m suffering from Zoochosis. LOL