To watch Gunther in action, you’d think he hates the vacuum. I mean, he really HATES the vacuum. But the truth is, he doesn’t hate it at all. When the vacuum is off, he leaves it alone. Sure, he watches it closely, waiting to see if it’ll fire up, but he’s pretty mild-mannered otherwise. Turn the vacuum on, however, and Gunther becomes a savage beast. He can be on the other side of the house and suddenly will come flying in like a black bullet, single-mindedly driven to attack and kill the vacuum.
This level of extreme emotion and total obsession with going on the attack strikes a chord within me, echoing those moments when I’ve hated something or someone so much, I was filled with the desire to pounce and do damage. Because I would need to really hate something to be that vicious, I naturally think that Gunther hates the vacuum. But he doesn’t hate anything. He’s just acting on instinct, pure and simple. The fact that Gunther wants to rip the vacuum to bits and I want to use it to suck up the dirt from my carpets is what makes me human and Gunther not. It’s also why when I’m feeling rage and want to attack something, I don’t. I’m accountable for my actions and he’s not – that’s the miracle of awareness and the power of choice.
Animals, birds, insects, reptiles, even plants and microorganisms have no control over what they do. There is no judgment over their behavior, because what they do and when they do it is governed by the drives of instinct. Like a computer program, non-human life is generally operated on a pre-set instruction manual called DNA. Every act and reaction has the same directive – survive. Such action is honest in that there is no choice involved, no independent control over the action. Famed animal trainer Roy Horn of Siegfried & Roy was made into lunch meat by his beloved tiger Montecore on stage during a live performance, but did he get upset? Nah! He knew it wasn’t the tiger’s “fault.” Animals experience urges mixed with basic needs designed to ensure their survival. We can “train” certain animals that have a higher degree of control over their behavior, such as dogs or dolphins or parrots, but their actions can always be traced back to acting on an instinctual response.
When an animal does something ruthless, cruel, or savage, you can’t be surprised. It’s in their nature to act without “conscience.” Having a conscience is a human quality. Having awareness, knowing that we exist and we can choose what we do and when we do it, is the miracle of humanity. Yet, too often we’re using instinct as an excuse for poor, destructive behavior. Cruelty, cheating, selfishness, or attacking others is not “survival of the fittest.” It has nothing to do with giving in to our animal nature. Unless you have some mental impairment, a corrupted soul is created by choice.
As humans we have the capacity to choose to act for good; yet, more and more, folks are using “nature” as an excuse for bad behavior. My favorite is from people who cheat on their partners and claim they can’t help it, that monogamy is against nature. Their proof is that few animals in the wild are monogamous. Well, duh! They’re animals. They don’t know concepts such as loyalty, honor, or commitment. They have no choice. Instinct drives their actions; feeling triggers doing, without regard for consequences or meaning. Humans have evolved beyond the stranglehold of instincts. We have choice. To say that you have sexual urges and you just can’t help yourself is poppycock! Having a bowel movement is a natural urge, too, but you don’t just drop your drawers and go right in your livingroom. Unless you’re extremely ill, you can control yourself and take care of “nature” on your own terms. You control your body, despite what nature arouses in you.
Nature may trigger wild swings of emotions, but indulging in these emotions is completely by choice. Everyone gets angry, sometimes wildly angry, but screaming, brawling, attacking, and plotting revenge, these are all choices. Everyone gets sad and may want to cry, but to wail excessively for hours, mope and whine, and wallow in self-pity, well, that’s all you. Everyone faces sexual temptations, but no matter how strong the temptation, acting on it is by choice. If you’re a healthy normal human, there is no temptation you can’t resist. Better yet, because you have choice, even if you’ve been living your life “out of control” for years, you can chose to change that pattern at any time.
When you give it a little thought, you can see that animals think naked. There is no critical thinking, no logic or reasoning. Just impulse. Don’t think naked by kidding yourself into believing you can’t control what you do. If you’re not attacking vacuums, you’ve no excuse.