You’ve got to keep in mind that we have a saying in Texas that “dogs are family.” It’s because if you’re out in the woods, a dog may die for you. Whether fighting off a rattlesnake, or coyotes, or even other human beings.
Eventually you start to see that as what it is, which is the purest and most wholesome kind of love, and you reciprocate. You would do anything to save that dog’s life.
And then you, and he, have formed your own union. Like a small nation, a group of people who (Platonically) love each other and would die for each other.
This isn’t love like in rock songs or movies. That’s lust, generally, and compatibility of self-image. “She makes me look experienced,” is generally a good summary of rock-music “love.”
It isn’t love like the hippies talked about either. What they meant was peace, pacifism or (at its root) being inoffensive. Their thought was that if everyone became a pushover, life would be easy. No conflict, no self-esteem hit for anyone to take when someone (as someone must) loses.
In fact, what the hippies propose is hatred. Don’t pay attention to reality. Accept what is, wrap it in a container of emotion, and settle in to chase your own pleasures. Disconnect from the world. But on a subtler level, this is a vote of no confidence in existence itself. It’s a covert form of hatred.
But the modern West runs on hatred. We must have someone to hate to motivate ourselves. In foreign policy, it’s a procession of “Hitler-like” (the CIA pinkie swears it) enemies. In domestic policy, it’s jihad against those who don’t buy into our PC palliatives. And on a personal level, we’re always looking for whoever it was we think wronged us.
All of this conceals an ugly little secret, so deeply buried and pervasive and twisted that if they knew about it, the Chinese would hold a fire sale for our currencies. This secret is: we hate ourselves. There, I’ve let it out of the bag. But you don’t believe?
Our literature emphasizes how controlling and manipulative society is. Our music and movies emphasize escapism, another vote of no confidence in reality. Our intellectuals loathe society, but have no solutions and drink too much to match. Even our religion is based on closing our eyes to the now and waiting for heaven.
It’s common in the modern West to refer to ourselves with a displaced pronoun. “We (meaning They) are destroying nature, we’re eroding the soul, we have poisoned our minds with hatred,” people say, nodding wisely. But does it matter if it’s Us, or Them, who’s doing this? We’re all in the same entity, hurtling toward the same end.
We hate ourselves for being entitled and lazy. We hate ourselves for being prosperous and safe. We hate ourselves for not knowing what’s cool, or what reality is on the streets. We hate ourselves for not being any one of a procession of exciting and exotic Others who we presume have mystic knowledge that is denied to us.
Sadly, in addition to being divided against itself, the West is united — in hating itself. This is also a convenient way for individuals to displace the blame using those external pronouns. “We” means the herd, minus the person speaking and persons spoken to, of course. We would never do that. But as a group, We do.
This raging self-hatred makes us act like maniacs. Underneath our hippie jargon, we lust for war and brutal bombings. We want someone to blame for screwing us over, so we can murder them or do other unpleasant things. We want someone else to be guilty. We might even want a whole group to destroy in a fit of rage.
As usual, I have a contrary suggestion. Emotion is only good for appreciating; it’s not good for fixing. In fact, it’s worse than bad. What we need when it’s time to fix things is cold, hard, impersonal and inhuman logic. Just look at the facts. Look at reality.
We will get nowhere with a self-hating society. And thus I suggest that we need love. We need to love ourselves again (no, not in the naughty way, you do too much of that as it is) and learn to appreciate who we are. To learn what unites us, what makes us a group, and why that’s unique and worth preserving. And improving.
In Texas, the dogs know many things — talk to one, and you’ll be surprised. But the most important lesson the dogs can teach us is that we must love ourselves before we explore those dark woods. Or we will never survive the night.