From the Archives: What We Can Learn from Animals

This week, August 12-16, I’ll be standing trial for fraud in Florida, and thus unable to bring you new words each day. In the meantime, please enjoy reposts of some of my best work. I’ll return Monday after these absurd charges have been rebuffed. Please do not hesitate to send me money in any amount, and it will help you more than it does me, and it shouldn’t need to be restated that the greater the amount, the greater the help to you will be.

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No doubt, human beings are the most important creatures on earth. We shouldn’t hesitate to admit it. Nor should we avoid helping ourselves to whatever it is, on this blue planet, that we need. Or want. Or merely want others not to have.

power words

Class struggles in the animal world. But uh, wow bird really does look great.

  That said, there are still lessons we can take from other, lesser creatures. Take, for instance, the hedgehog. What do you think of hedgehogs? Well, if you’re like most people, you think about hedgehogs hardly at all. Could you even pick one out of a lineup of small mammals?

  In case you didn’t know, the hedgehog is an adorable, small rodent that can be found all over the world. Hedgehogs are very honest about how they’re feeling.  In moments of contentment, the hedgehog can be heard to purr and whistle softly. These creatures puff and snort when mildly displeased, but loudly hiss and click when angry. Hedgehogs have never been observed to ‘pretend everything is fine’ to avoid conflict or not make a situation uncomfortable for others.

  What does all this mean for us? Well, the hedgehog, according to evolutionary science, has changed hardly at all over the last 15 million years. He’s a survivor, and wearing his heart on his sleeve, the hedgehog has seen his way through broad changes in his world. Anatomically modern humans, by contrast, emerged only about 200,000 years ago.

  How good a shot do we have at lasting? We’re smart enough to invent weapons that could obliterate our species, but still too stupid to avoid drowning in the pool or being electrocuted to death near public transportation without signs that contain both words and pictures.

  So the next time we feel an impulse to call an animal stupid, why not take a look in the mirror, and focus on our own flaws? Just be careful not to slip on the bathroom floor and kill yourself, moron. Water can cause surfaces to become wet. We’ll get a sign made for you about that right away.

Power Words:

Today I will be like the hedgehog, and speak my mind without thinking about it first, and I will realize that if my species is doomed, I am to blame.

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