2.09.2006

ARTICLE: The Decay of Humanity



In the moment I write what follows, I can be found working five out of every seven suns caring for dogs at a veterinary clinic in Tampa, Florida. Also in this moment, one six-month old Doberman puppy with cosmetically clipped ears and docked tail has been boarding for three months, and he has another three ahead - a young man purchased him from a store with the knowledge he was soon moving to the Cayman Islands, a territory that he knows restricts dogs under a certain age in effort to prevent the Rabies disease. So the puppy, named “Capone,” is stuck living his developmental stages in a cage. All he knows of life is basic instinct. In effort to enhance these early life experiences, I let Capone out to play at least twice a day for as long as I can. He‘s a fun-loving, wild and disobedient dog. When he is finally sent to the Cayman Islands, I doubt the man who bought him will have much patience for such a creature and Capone will ultimately find himself in the limbo of confined life once again - either that or he will be put through training courses to quell his behavior and turn him subservient. This situation is not only a perfect example of where our society is today but also a decent analogy for how we live.

I’ll briefly state that I find it surreal we are so automatically accepting of the idea that we sell life over a counter - we think we are the precious center of the universe and everything revolves around us. I also find surreal our system of trade and value that represents worth through ownership and determines the extent to which one will experience life, but I digress. The mirror presented in Capone’s ordeal reflects our own lives in that we are, too, trapped in a proverbial cage of Capitalism and Western Civilization. The cage is, however, all we know life to be, and we openly accept it as such, often reveling in its alleged glory. Furthermore, through a humanly universal system of checks and balances, when one acts unconventionally, they are either locked away or submitted for behavior adjustments. It is quite fitting that the puppy’s name is Capone, after the 1920’s professional criminal, because in this analogy the puppy represents a human, most likely American, who finds ways to comfortably function in and around society.

Why is this how we operate? Human history is full of revolutionaries and visionaries who shaped this pattern of thoughts and actions. Those courageous people had magnificent intentions, but through an aftermath of lackluster commemoration and apathetic complacence with the ways of our illusory world-within-a-world their accomplishments have led to an unfortunate state in humanity.



Before our planet was too small to comfortably harbor its population, in the time we have religiously sanctioned as 359 BC, Philip II took the throne as ruler of Macedon. In Philip’s earlier years, he learned the way of war while held captive in Thebes. With the power to campaign against the known world, he developed the phalanx style of combat which involved rows upon rows of spear-wielding soldiers, the first row of which would extend their weapons forward to destroy the obstacles in opposition - after the first row fell, the next would lower their spears and continue their march. This was a nearly unrivaled formula for victory for centuries.

Philip was far too keen on decadence in celebration of his many victories, and allowed his eccentric nature to get the better of him. His illegitimate son, Alexander, saw him in a light of disgust - an innovative conqueror diminished to a mere drunkard. When Philip was assassinated in 336 BC, Alexander received the crown and took command of Philip’s armies. His dreams of conquest were beyond the known world - he wanted to unify all walks of man and live in educated, powerful harmony. What he knew was war, and with violent barbarian opposition in the unknown land, it was certainly what he would need to bring his dream into truth. Often times it is the one with the brawn who rules, for worse or better.

Alexander frequently drew, as did most ancients, upon the Greek mythological Gods such as Zeus for inspiration. His people believed in the stories of the Gods that today seem ridiculous. The stories gave the people reason to carry on without much further thought - they filled in all the blanks. This is exactly what religion has done throughout history, given people the answers they want and relieved them of the need to think for themselves. It’s instant gratification. Why worry when it’s all in a book?



As is the natural way of things, growth and decay continued in the world, and eventually our ancestors from Britain found themselves facing change. The industrial revolution was in sight, and many citizens were being extorted for their labor. There were still new lands to be discovered, and a group of British explorers sailed West to a new world - to live off the land and be free in a truer way. They unknowingly brought with them, however, a large part of our modern mentality. The humans already inhabiting the land they found were deeply in touch with the earth - they lived with an unheard beauty that defied possession and greed. Unfortunately, both tribes of men felt threatened by each other and through the curiosity of the natives and the aggressive caution of the Europeans, war broke out. Philip II of Macedon’s phalanx style was still in effect, but the Europeans, much like is the case with anything repeated subsequently through history, were lackadaisical in their efforts. They took for granted the impending success of their superior style. In battle very few fought as if the outcome meant anything more than comfort in the aftermath. This is not an example detailing worthy intentions, but an example nonetheless of the bastardization of procedure and the mentality that drives much of modern America.



Even when entrepreneurs of the modern world show extraordinary flare in their endeavors, their retirement brings in new minds that merely uphold the new standards as opposed to continuing the innovation. Howard Hughes, pioneer of aviation to whom money was never an issue, crafted with an eye beyond excellence different forms and uses for airplanes, one of man’s most fascinating inventions. Now, when looking at the airlines, like any other business they have become a mere consumer market that just happens to profess in transportation via sky.

Capone the puppy is but one of the many victims of corrupt and selfish America. Recently another puppy came to the hospital by way of a concerned citizen. It was a stray and had contracted a fatal, communicable disease that could have been cured. Instead, the doctors and managers decided to kill the dog because they did not want to afford the costs to save its life. Their supplemental excuse was that it could infect other local animals. Had the dog came to us from a paying client, there would have been no issue keeping a contagious dog in the facility. Far too often are we solely concerned with the outrageous monetary system - even when we are not fully aware of it we are stubbornly pleasing ourselves.



So where have our visionaries gone? Where is our Alexander? The myths that lead our impending generations are not grand pinnacles of humanity as they once were, instead they are colorfully animated and misleading creatures on television, spewing deception and greed. I say it is time we move beyond reliance on myth and take a step back to really look at what we have become and how we can rectify it.

Our current world does seem inevitable, considering our tendencies for rage, lust and sloth. On the surface, it’s a great world. If we look only at the media displays, it is often a glorious place. Yes, ignorance is bliss and yes, shit happens. I say we don’t accept it, and we may be on the verge of a mental revolution.

Maybe the so-called democracy we live in is indeed the best for our current condition, but I believe rather than emulating satisfaction with being governed, our species can find its answers from within - discover unity with our world and one another and in turn discover true fulfillment and happiness.

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