Why can't we just get along?
© David Burton 2007
The human race just can't seem to get along with each other. Wars, genocides, internecine fighting, etc., continue to plague civilization - perhaps more now than ever before in human history. I have a problem in understanding the reasons for this behavior. You see, my family, my pets, and I have easily learned to get along with what I assume are several generations of raccoons. If we and raccoons can learn to get along with each other, why can't we supposedly inteligent creatures get along with each other?
How do I know that we share living quarters with raccoons? Easy - first, I have met with members of the family face-to-face, and second, I frequently see their footprints on my asphalt driveway following a rain.
In the nearly 40 years since we moved in, my family and our pets have lived in peaceful harmony with our 4-legged squatters. We don't bother the raccoons and the raccoons don't bother us. True, there have been accommodations on both our parts, but these have been quite minor and neither the racoons nor I seem to resent these adjustments.
The first accommodation that we made was in relationship to food. The raccoon family figured they were entitled to whatever food we put our with the trash. They were clever enough and had enough dexterity to tip over the trash barrels and remove the covers from the barrels before helping themselves to our leftovers. I solved this problem by tying down the barrel tops with bungee cords. The raccoons got the message and today I no longer bother with the bungee cords. The raccoons now leave the barrels alone.
My second meeting with the raccoon family occurred a short time later. My wife had left a large uncovered crock out on the back porch. Coming home from work one day, I met one of our family's cats who accompanied me up the steps of the back porch. The cat jumped up on the top of porch railing and went over to where the crock was located and took a deep interest in whatever was in the crock. Now it had rained a day or two previously and there were a few inches of rain water in the bottom of the crock. I walked over to see what was so interesting to my cat. I looked in and there, inside, was a raccoon taking a bath. I immediately backed away to give the raccoon some privacy. My cat, however, was not so polite. I called to the cat to come into the house with me before the raccoon might take umbrage at not being allowed to bathe in privacy. A raccoon’s claws can be dangerous and even lethal to a cat. Instead, the cat parked himself on the porch railing, just above the crock and reached down to touch the raccoon on its head. I fully expected a razor sharp claw to emerge from the crock and dispatch my cat to kitty heaven. However, the raccoon exhibited better manors than my cat and merely went on with its bathing. Finally, the cat lost interest and came into the house where I gave a sigh of relief.
We and the raccoons have now peacefully co-existed for nearly 40 years. We get along just fine. On the other hand, how many millions of people have been maimed, murdered, raped and tortured over that same period of time? We humans simply seem totally incapable of getting along with our own species. Why can I and the raccoons get along without conflict and the human race cannot get along with itself?
In the famous words of Rodney King, “"I just wanna say, can we all get along?" Unfortunately, the facts seem to say that the answer to Mr. King's question is no.