Dreams have been described as dress rehearsals for real life, opportunities to gratify wishes, and a form of nocturnal therapy. A new theory aims to make sense of it all.
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It's difficult for humans, a primate so vulnerable to large predators that they very likely forcefully selected for our profoundly obligate sociality, to empathize with apex predators.
The Maasai, pastoralists who lived with both slow domestic ungulates and lions, used lion-killing with a spear, as a test of a moran - the stage of boy becoming fearless warrior/protector.
Inuit/Inupiat once used spearing a polar bear for the same protective social reason, although that was fast turned into a farcical cruelty with the acquisition of firearms.
Having been right up close to large predator taking ungulate several times, I comment here to emphasize that the sympathetic dilemma can occur and be individually resolved.
Yet most Europeans and Euroamericans, with a long period of intolerance combined with their acquisition and development of firearm technology since it was developed in China in the 1200s (I'll bet the peripatetic Venetian Polo family was involved!), have added to the ethical problem on individual and cultural levels.
Two months after the recent Wyoming action of wolves, a species that clearly understands that one can return to prey for meals up to two weeks (in my experience) following the kill, downing 19, I believe, elk in winter conditions, humans there are still retaining an overextension of their competitive arrogation of some "right" to be the sole killers ("managers", if you like), and still desire to exclude important actual predators through mortal elimination.
This facile rhetoric arises merely because this society pictures itself as "owning" and thus attempts to farm, domesticate, control as many of the planet's species as possible.
I do not know if the dentist pictures himself as some sort of Maasai moran, but it is certain from personal encounter of others who hunt Alaskan bears and wolves, that many if not most hunters of the present dominant culture perceive themselves as morally just, dopaminergically and androgrenergically manly or dominant through using a technological weapon so overwhelming that there exists no organism able to withstand its deadly force, from up to and over 3/5 mile away, a safe distance for the weakest-per-body-mass of all primates to extinguish unknown lives.
I do know that observational studies have shown incontrovertibly that those who own guns perceive themselves as more vulnerable and feel more fear than those who do not (I don't have citations at hand, but they are easily found).
I also know that the movie Blackfish was only a technologically-successful method of shocking an already primed public to technologically assisted (think flashmob) societal action.
I saw cetaceans crowded in concrete pools since childhood, along with experiencing their willing and curious exploration of myself and friends in wild situations.
I find that each of us were differentially aroused by our personal experience.
My brother and uncle attacked me as "Dr Schweitzer", and I protested that the famous animal ethicist hated and killed snakes, while I played with and teased rattlesnakes (i do worry about their caloric needs, but still decades later cannot resist a little touch, as I enjoy play interaction with any species).
Since I am a partisan of speedy black widows, saving scorpions from Latin american males who seek to kill one in my presence, and, of course, the big, sometimes fearsome mammals, I have across life, found an interesting arousal in myself in response to predator hunters.
I have an odd, psychologically-aberrant lust to kill and eat certain primates who show unethical cruelty. I have avoided following up my almost sexual desire, but it did almost get me in trouble with the law.
I have never yet met an avid hunter who did not exhibit tendencies that arouse this impulse, one quite different from the far more studied disgust response.
Perhaps we humans have some strongly varied behavioral phenotypes as yet not understood.. I can only compare my response to one sometimes unexplained but observed when people encounter one of those tiny, highly aggressive little dogs, so miscegenated by humans into comfort- or alarm- slaves.
As you see, humans vary considerably in response to other humans' aggressive actions: one tested and found to be far on the empathic side of the spectrum but raised in a culture of violence, still can reflect violent response, only in some cases toward those mired in fear, disgust, and consequent acquisition and use of tools for lethal violence toward the vulnerable.
We're told that our orbitofrontal cortex and ACC help us to avoid inappropriate cruelty or other violent response during stress. We prize our pretension that we are capable of greatest empathy of all creatures, even while numerous species (I'll not delineate which here, in hope that others will explore animal behavior far more deeply than is common at present) have larger ACCs both in actual and relative size than do we, and many have exhibited far superior control. Consider this.
Because I KNOW that our species cannot function ethically enough to use firearms, a first step is to eliminate their possession.
Since governments do not appear to function at even the mean ethical level of individuals, falling FAR short, it is also necessary for the species to limit governmental use of weapons.
I sometimes camp and travel afoot in wild areas where big predators live, as I once willingly immersed myself quite naked to other predators. Life experience has made me well aware that I am not a lord of creation.
As with many others, I do not respond by seeking artificial weapons, knowing well that screaming monkeys are not evolutionarily or psychologically equipped to live themselves in an artificial body of a predator.
Thus I applaud the viral explosion of empathy toward those who can eat us.
The Ojibwa tell us that Original Man once walked with the First Wolf, learning and knowing and naming all other beings. The two were then summoned to walk apart from one another.
But the Ojibwe still say of the Wolf: The fate of each will be the fate of the other.
They also told the Europeans who came and asked why they so extended their compassion and love to this fierce and mysterious taker of life for food: Ototeman.
This word means "He is my Brother."
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