Behaviour Guilt

Animal Instincts

Being able to use words is a huge advantage and a huge disadvantage. We need to remember all the time that we are still part of the animal kingdom. All animals except ourselves just get on with their lives by following their instincts. They know what kind of animals they are. I can’t tell you how because I don’t know. All I can do is guess.

One of the ways we can explore how different other animals are from us is to take one into our house as a pet who is not put into a cage but has the freedom of the house and garden and other nearby houses and gardens. We give them a name and in many ways treat them as part of the family. We then develop a tendency to see them as anthropomorphics. We talk to them and teach them tricks and make rules for them which they learn to obey. This we call training. Note that these rules are all for the benefit of the human beings who own them.

There is an enormous popularity for stories about talking animals. Both children and adults love them. It seems to me that our species longs to make other animals more and more like ourselves. This works very well until a cat catches a bird, for example. We treat them like backward children, especially when they break our rules. Hunting comes naturally to cats and they do it whenever they have the opportunity. They soon realise that instead of people praising him for a killing, they usually scold them for it and try to release the prey.

Cats learn fast. They soon drop the habit of giving a person their prey as a gift and learn to sneak it into the house. When this happens for the first time, the cat shows us by its behaviour that it experiences the feeling of guilt. The greater the number of things the cat does that annoy their owners, the more the animal is obliged to change its natural behaviour.

When we remember that we were once animals who couldn’t talk, we can get a much better understanding of why our lives can be so difficult. We still have vestiges, deep in our unconscious minds, of the basic instincts our far distant ancestors obeyed. They often clash with the rules we are taught, mostly when we were very young: rules that have been made not by nature but by all different kinds of religions and governments to ensure that people fit into their own particular society. This is why guilt is one of the most common feelings from which we suffer.

The problem of consciousness and unconsciousness has been studied for centuries. Consciousness is how we live our lives when we are awake. Unconsciousness prevails when we are asleep. Hence we are our real selves when we are asleep and alone which is one of the reasons we are so interested in dreams. Dreams do not lie, but most of them have to be decoded because we all have elements in ourselves that we find disturbing. I believe the more individual we are and the more creative the more we dream and the harder it is us to live our conventional daytime lives. We have to know what we can say to whom or we would soon be in deep waters. Is it possible to be a real individual person and at the same time manage to find a place for ourselves where we can use our talents and maintain our own persons? It isn’t easy but it is the main underlying motive of these pieces I am writing.