My day on the coast
So, I stood on a pier and watched the sea lions fight it out for space on the docks. The larger animals dominated of course, driving off the small ones whom they did not like.
That’s just how it is out in the wild. No mater how uncomfortable it makes us, it’s all about dominance and submission.
Of course we westerners, those of us raised in European Judeo-Christian influenced cultures, pride ourselves on our egalitarianism. We are all the same; we are equals in the eyes of the law and in our worth before society. Or at least that is the standard that we aspire to.
It’s very different of course with sea lions, and just as different with the monkeys at work. Their lives are lived within the blunt structures of family hierarchies based on strength and lineage. Dominance and submission order their world each and everyday, and any failure to acknowledge this reality can quickly earn a monkey a mauling.
These impulses, however, predate us and our primate cousins, stretching back through the reptilian branches of evolution to our invertebrate forbearers. While on the coast, I watched a pair of Dungeness crabs battle each other over choice living space. It was a lot like sumo wrestling, with a plenty of shoving, heaving, and locked forelimbs. The loser immediately ran off and beat up the next lower-ranking crab, driving him out of his hole.
So how different are we people? Hierarchical submission and dominance are still encoded to a degree in the cultures of the Far East, and I am curious just how successful we westerners have been at vanquishing or suppressing these impulses in our day-to-day lives. Have they simply grown more subtle, or have we moved beyond these drives on our way towards some transcendence of biology.