Uncivil Unions: September 2007: Archives

September 4, 2007

Going To The Dogs: Pit Bulls, Primaries, & Politics genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

Going To The Dogs

I've previously written about our "chain letter society"...my own hypothesis that our society has become obsessed with winning, the notion of number one, and all that can be associated with the position at the front of the line...such that little else seems to matter.

The process is initiated by parents who instill such thoughts in the minds of their children and then push them to attain nothing less. In my theory, over time, the mechanisms which hold a society together are eroded to the point that singular objectives overwhelm the pursuit of collective goals...devolving into the classic scenario of dog eat dog.

As I was sitting at my computer, surfing the web and experiencing a nondescript feeling of frustration, I suddenly realized the source. I've been watching a number of situations unfold that have all the makings of the growing excesses one might expect from a "chain letter society"...complete with healthy portions of self-serving irrationality.

Initially, the connecting points might not be apparent, but bear with me as I attempt to weave a coherent argument. Let me begin by identifying the topics of note. The first has been the anger directed at Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick as a result of his involvement with dog fighting. The second is the endless jockeying on the part of several states to enhance their position in the presidential primaries...and the third is the effort being launched in California to divide their presidential electoral votes based upon the percentage of the popular vote each candidate receives as opposed to the existing process of awarding them all to the candidate who garners the most votes.

The Michael Vick situation provides the necessary backdrop for discussing the other two issues. In the Vick case, from the outset, there was a clear and consistent criticism of his actions and countless people came to the defense of dogs which are abused or killed in such operation. I believe that reaction is valid and reasonable by most measures of civility.

As one deciphers the outrage, the underlying basis seems to center upon the imposition of injustice and the infliction of cruelty. Further, I would contend that most individuals believe it is wrong to subject these dogs to the whims of those who own them and who presumably seek the psychic rewards that may come from having the toughest dog in the circuit. In essence, the owner is consumed with the notion of Fido being number one...such that the welfare of Fido is secondary to the needs of his master.

In pointing to the Vick situation, it provides evidence of three things. One, most people have an innate moral compass which recognizes injustice. Two, most people dislike it when others live out their insufficient egos by victimizing those they can manipulate. Thirdly, most people have the ability to recognize when others are excessive in their pursuit to be viewed as king of the hill.

Pivoting to the other two news items, we begin to see signs of a subtle, though significant, inconsistency...an inconsistency which begins to distinguish and divorce individual self-interest apart from the need for a society to monitor and exhibit self-restraint and self-discipline. Further, the fact that we are now dealing with human beings as opposed to our canine companions is undoubtedly relevant to the analysis.

I believe it is safe to conclude that the actions of a society or some identifiable segment of that society reflect the predominant beliefs of its members. Such subsets can include our child's soccer team or, with regard to the presidential primary, it can be an individual state. In both cases, it isn't difficult to see the emergence of self-interest and the de-emphasis of self-restraint and self-discipline. Suddenly, the empathy which elicited a measurable compassion for our four legged friends seems to evaporate when the aggrieved are fellow human beings.

In our current societal construct, we have apparently elevated the principle of being number one to a desirable trait...one to which we do not attach the same outrage which was reserved for Michael Vick's behavior with regard to his dogs...one which doesn't seek to penalize those parents who act similar to Michael Vick with regards to their children and the traits they endeavor to instill within them.

Specifically, ingraining the instincts of a pit bull in our children with regard to success and the achievement of number one status suddenly supersedes the attachment of any deterrents to unbridled self-interest and the pursuit of dominant status. As such, we abhor the Michael Vick's of the world whose actions are arguably selecting for the same outcome we embrace with regards to our children's human interactions...actions and outcomes which of course are applied to entities like soccer teams and individual states. In the end, injustice and cruelty in our human interactions is therefore ignored and outrage can rarely be found.

It now becomes easy to see how our primary system is symptomatic evidence of the ailment identified by the concept of a "chain letter society". It is also fraught with the pitfalls of any pyramid scheme...meaning that a select few can ascend to the top and getting there must be done upon the backs of those sacrificed in the process. Logic tells us only one state can arguably be first...but when the mechanisms of self-restraint are removed, chaos is bound to ensue. The objective of electing a competent president becomes inferior to the self-interests of individuals and groupings of individuals such that the fundamental goal is now fully obstructed and virtually irrelevant.

As if that isn't a sufficient bastardization of the intent upon which our society is predicated, the scramble for success knows no bounds and is further evidenced in the effort to alter the equation for apportioning electoral votes in California, one of the largest states...one that has the potential to alter the entire election outcome in order to assure that the highest position can be secured.

Taking it a step further, those who are pushing this change are not doing so because they believe all states should adopt the same system. They are acting to obtain an advantage and their selection of the state of California can be equated with Michael Vick's selection of superior dogs...which of course spells irrelevance...or in the case of the dogs, death...for those who haven't chosen to participate in the rush for dominance regardless of ethical considerations as well as the well being of the existing entity...the United States.

As with the primary dates, when the selective altering of the electoral system overshadows the objective of preserving and promoting the national interest, then the nation becomes inferior to the self-interests of individuals and groupings of individuals such that the fundamental and primary goal is now fully obstructed and virtually irrelevant.

Michael Vick's actions were wrong and they shouldn't be condoned. The same is true of the efforts to alter the primary system and the distribution of electoral votes. All are indications of the ailment I've identified as our preoccupation with the precepts of a "chain letter society". The struggle to be number one...whether that begins at home with the instruction of our children or whether it is has become a foregone reality which has infiltrated every fiber of our political system...is nothing more than a recipe for failure.

While we seek to defend Michael Vick's dogs from the infliction of injustice and cruelty, we simultaneously have justice locked in our lethal jaws...attempting to shake from it any semblance of our commitment to the ethical treatment of our fellow human beings. Perhaps our outrage at the savagery of dog fighting is little more than a reaction to an unwelcome glimpse of our own bloodthirsty barbarism.

Image courtesy of In A Vault Underground

Tagged as: Bill Richardson, California Electoral Votes, Chain Letter Society, Dog Fighting, Iowa, Jennifer Granholm, Michael Vick, Michigan, Presidential Primaries

Daniel DiRito | September 4, 2007 | 1:04 PM | link | Comments (0)
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