4.28.2012

We're All Just Squirrels

A month or so ago, when the weather was starting to turn "cooler" from the odd, unseasonable 80s and 90s we experienced in March, I was folding my laundry in the bedroom and looking out the window. I noticed two squirrels chasing each other.

I stopped what I was doing and gave my full attention to the squirrels, with a smile forming on my lips. How funny that is, I thought. They don't have TVs and find stuff to do to keep them entertained. A couple of minutes into watching this little dance, I realized there was another squirrel on the same tree. Upon closer examination, there were about five squirrels chasing a squirrel on the very top of the tree. Some took breaks on nearby branches.

Oh. It's mating season in squirrel world. Lovely. Then the terribleness of that female squirrel's situation struck me. If it was a woman/man being aggressively pursued for mating by a group of men/women, there would be civil, human, and woman rights and laws at stake. Or available to control the situation. Intervention (by shouting, running to defend the woman, beating up the guys, whatever) I could provide and police to call to give her some relief from this incessant harassment. But what does this little female squirrel have going for it? Eventually, the male squirrels all think, she'll get tired and then we'll get her. Isn't that just the dismal-est thing ever? It just creeps the hell out of me that mating should be such a nasty business for squirrels.

Us humans, we're not that different from that band of squirrels. Are we? Many of us are just as openly predatory (lawyers, MBAs, politicians, etc.) on those who we assume are weaker. Or those we want to persuade to see or do things the way we want. Or those who we want something from. Just imagine employees kissing up to their boss, trying to win favors, promotions, and other perks. Imagine speed dating. Imagine a bar on a Friday or Saturday night.

For all the amazing things we can accomplish, one of humanity's biggest faults -- and there are many -- we think we can change our biology, evolution, ingrained behaviors, or that we're superior to other beings in the animal kingdom. Are we really any better, or just different? People make me sad. And so do my neighborhood's squirrels, for that matter.