Human Kind and Baboons – The Death of the Alpha Male

Baboon baby

(photo copyright: babies-dangerous-wild-animals.blogspot.com)

I watched this video a while ago. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYG0ZuTv5rs)  It’s very interesting. It’s about stress and how it can kill you. If you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, don’t worry. That’s not really the point of this post.

This article summarises the most interesting part for now…. (http://www.upworthy.com/something-fascinating-happened-after-these-male-baboons-died-men-should-keep-this-in-mind?c=ufb1)

Basically, the dominant baboons in a troop, which was being studied to investigate stress, died of TB. Half of all males died from the disease, which they’d contracted from infected meat in a dump they’d taken to foraging from – the head honchos took more meat than their subordinates.

When they died, the surviving males down the totem pole didn’t become the bastards their predecessors were. They remained chilled, and were nice to the females (who now outnumbered them two to one) and young. And everything was rosy for them from then on.

Seems only a few baboons are assholes (though the guy researching them does describe them as backstabbing Machiavellian bastards that hurt each other) but they control the situation in most troops. This sends their shittiness down the pipeline. As the narrator says in Snow White and the Huntsman said, the queen’s “reign was so poisonous…. that people turned on each other.”

But new males joining this troop learn that being a wanker is not allowed. They chill out and groom instead of harassing others.

I was reminded of the baboons when I read George Monbiot’s recent article about Human Kindness. He points out that we are in general, good folk, who are nice than we assume when we glance about us on the train home from that shit job where your boss sucks the life out of you. In fact, we’re innately good.

But it’s something we usually aren’t aware of, this fellow kindness. All those videos of people ignoring homeless people etc. you see on the Internet doesn’t help with our own image, either (nor the videos of kids beating up one another).

And this other recent article about Twitter becoming just a forum for abuse indicates that we’re all participating in being assholes, or at least letting them rule our conversations.

It points the blame at the fact that our lives are an abuse, where we are put to work by the those holding the reins:

“We have created an abusive society. We have normalized, regularized, and routinized abuse. We are abused at work, by the very rules, norms, and expectations of our jobs, at which we are merely “human resources”, to be utilized, allocated, depleted. We are abused at play, by industries that seek to prey on our innocence and literally “target” our human weaknessses.” (https://medium.com/bad-words/why-twitter-s-dying-and-what-you-can-learn-from-it-9ed233e37974#.68hxb243u)

We are acting like assholes because the assholes are creating the rules. Just like most baboons farther down the hierarchy get abused by those above just because those just above have gotten shit from their own superiors. And they have highly stressed lives, which lead to illness, obesity and earlier deaths.

So how do we get rid of the asshole baboons who are ruining life for the rest of us?

This is the problem. They’re not going to die of a disease we all avoid – they eat and drink only the best of food, taste wise and health wise. They also can afford access to healthcare that most can only dream of. Even their excesses can be solved by buying a heart or a liver when their own break down.

We might need to rely on the old adage – “they got the guns but we got the numbers.”

When I wrote a blog post about us humans allowing our own extinction in the imminent ecological collapse, I had thought to include those instances when people stand around and “let” people get attacked without either trying to stop it, or even calling the cops. They’re not bad folk – they just assume someone else is going to do it. Our current situation is more akin to allowing the assailants to beat us up without raising our hands to protect our face.

For ourselves, our fellow non-assholes, and for the planet, we have to start fighting back. I’m not saying we become as violent as these Alpha males who would continue their abuse.  As Russell Brand suggests in his book Revolution, we just band together, walk up to them and take their weapons away (their weapon is money, by the way). Because those asshole baboons have to go.

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About davidjmobrien

Writer, ecologist and teacher

Posted on October 24, 2015, in Ecology, Equality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Great post, David. The analogy is striking. Shared on all my pages 🙂

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