In Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steal, the brilliant ornithologist turned geographer/historian of UCLA identifies the ready availability of domestic-able animals on the Eurasian continent as one of the key factors determining the westward direction of conquest that begun in 1492. Horses, cattle, oxen, sheep, and swine were all domesticated not only to feed humans, but also to perform work. For millenia, horses and oxen provided the work that transported goods or powered grain mills.
Civilization is founded upon the ability of the innovative and the ingenious entrepreneurs among us to subject animals to their will. Today, the subject of these domesticating efforts are no longer beasts, but consumers, and the most powerful men and women have manipulated the behavior of their fellow humans to bring them money and power. Consumers are made to believe that they cannot perform a host of self-supporting tasks for themselves. If something in the home breaks, a repairman is called, and Billy Mays has a great new product on television that you simply must buy!
I can’t help but feel lost as a member of a public that has had the wool pulled over its eyes. We sit and watch mindless television. We are told what to buy by advertisements and who to vote for by CNN, FOX, or MSNBC. We work long and hard, only to have 1/3 of our income appropriated by the government and the rest of it appropriated by rich CEO’s pandering microwaves, iPods, or cell phone service. I thought the 13th Amendment ended slavery?
What makes me truly despair is that the comforts of a first-world lifestyle are not necessary, but that we have been made to believe they are by years of social conditioning. Even as I write this, I am not willing to smash my laptop in protest. I am a calf, locked up in the close-quartered cells of a dairy farm, unable to escape my fate as I, my peers, and the vast majority of first-world citizens have been domesticated to serve the purpose of more clever and more powerful human beings.
Who of these lives more like an animal, and who lives more like a man?