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While Playing with My Dog

Thoughts inspired by my dog.

By John Oliver SmithPublished about a year ago 8 min read
Does my dog imagine me when I'm not around?

While playing with the dog this morning, I was thinking, “What if I wasn’t here to throw this stick for this animal? What would the dog be doing if it wasn’t running after this stick and bringing it back to me so that I could throw it again?” I was thinking, “How important am I really, you know, in the grand scheme of things? How well would the world carry on without me?” Not that I don't feel important or worthwhile, but I do reckon that this is a valid question since the world did exist for quite a few years without me, before I came onto the scene. And, no matter how many brilliant contributions I make while I'm here, I also imagine that it will likely continue spinning around after I have made my exit.

I then moved from the yard outside to the bathroom inside. After sitting on the toilet for awhile, I concluded that the human race is basically arrogant and resourcist. Our resourcism has grown and continues to grow co-dependently with the size and increased functionality of our brains. And just when our brains grew to a maximum size, we developed computers which were just extensions of our brains. The more we have, the more we want, the more we get, then the more we have, then the more we need, then the more we have and so on and so on. Our computers, of course, alert us, not only to the fact that we need or want more, but where we can go to get it, when to get it, how to get it, etc. As a species of resourcists, we have little choice but to become otherists. As otherists (just and extension of the resourcist self), we naturally have become speciesist, agist, body-typist, racist and sexist, etc. We climb to the branch of the otherist tree that satisfies our needs in the best way and there we make our nest. And, in climbing that tree, we become entitled. We exert our self-centered influence on the planet and everything on it, as if our lives matter more than the lives of any of our planetary co-habitants, namely other humans, the trees, the fish, the turtles, the mosquitoes, etc. We do what we want, what we feel, what we wish with the planet, its people, its life, its resources, its inhabitants, and its life-enhancing systems and without even so much as asking permission, gaining the consent of anything and everything that also lives here. In the words of Paul Hogan playing the role of Crocodile Dundee, otherism and entitlement, "make about as much sense as two fleas on a dog's back, arguing about which of them owns the dog!" They are fleas, they were created, they ended up on the dog, there is plenty of dog flesh for both of them, they both have a right to be there - next issue!!!

In the grand scheme of things, in the life and scope of the universe, even this huge mass of rock we call our planet, is virtually insignificant – perhaps just a whim of God, a one-off display of what is possible. If our planet earth is meaningless in the realm of the cosmos, then what about US? What about the humans that were born from this planet and which are just creepy-crawly little particles moving about on its surface? Is a human life any more relevant than say, a dog’s life? True, from the perspective of a human, her life is more important than any other human life, and indeed, more important than the life of the goldfish she purchased at the pet shop this morning. From self-perspective, her life has more meaning than the life of the wasp she squashed under her foot and the life of the weed she pulled from the garden. But from the perspective of the goldfish, the wasp and the weed (although they don’t know it), their lives are just as important as the lives of individual humans. And we know that – because we have seen them in action, as if their lives actually matter just as much or more. A coyote caught in a leg-hold trap doesn’t just lay down and die – it fights the situation to the bitter end because inherently it knows it has a bigger job that needs doing. A seed doesn’t refrain from sprouting or stop growing because it happens to get caught under a rock. All life, no matter what form or shape it takes, puts up a battle to the last breath. No living thing ever goes quietly into the night. Ninety-nine percent of living things refuse to die willingly. We are all the same. All organisms withstand and navigate the pressures of the world around them so that they can adapt into a species of individuals capable of carrying on toward the greater good . . . ‘forever.’

Biologically speaking, the purpose of a living organism is to procreate in order that the DNA molecules embedded in each cell of that organism will have a chance to be replicated and evolve. And that's not our plan either - that's the plan of deoxyribonucleic acid. In the living world, the DNA molecule is God. It controls not only the existence of every living thing but also its shape and behavior and life span and a whole host of other important little tidbits. If a DNA molecule could replicate without having a living cell to protect it and a living organism to protect the cell, we need not be here at all as would also be the case for any other living thing on the planet. An individual human being or tree or whale or bacterium is merely the house in which the DNA molecule lives. We are all simply slaves to that one very complex little molecule. The individual organism is the way and means for the DNA molecule to get another DNA molecule and be well-protected and housed in the process – just like the chicken is just the egg’s way of getting another egg. We are no different, in that respect, than any other human or any other living thing. The greater the variation in shape, form, niche, behavior, etc. of various individuals, the greater the chances of survival for the DNA molecule. DNA made us all different for a very good reason. Variation is the engine that powers evolution. Without our differences, we would not be here, or if we were, we would be no more than one-celled amoeba splashing around in the endless oceans of this third rock from the sun. And, luckily we are different, because if the humans don’t survive, that’s just fine - there are still lots of rats and flies around to carry on and fight the good fight.

If the Covid-19 virus had been more effective and done a better job of killing off all humans on the planet, what would our planet look like now? It may look a lot different in a close-up view because there would be no more human activity. From the moon or from Jupiter or deep space though, it would look pretty much the same. And, it certainly would not be worse off than it is now. The DNA molecule would still have lots of other living things to do the job at hand and so, the world would carry on. I once wrote a children’s book (“Meet Dr. Wize,” which is also one of my published works on VOCAL) which alludes to the fact that visitors from other planets and galaxies may have no interest in the human species when they travel to earth but instead may seek out and be met and greeted by other more intelligent creatures on the planet. Don't get me wrong, I think the human race is important, but no more so than any other species of organism on the planet.

There are no other species of organisms waiting in the wings to become the bus drivers, the construction crane operators, the computer technicians, or the media moguls of our world as it presently exists. And, do you know why that is? Not because they can’t operate machinery and erect skyscrapers – rather because they don’t care to. My dog would much rather go for a walk or play fetch with me than take on any sort of helpful role in building the garden shed. If Homo sapiens sapiens should happen to become extinct, the forms and technology and inventions of mankind will no longer operate. Put your hand into a pail of water and then remove it. Then pause for a few seconds to reflect on the impression left behind by your hand. Mankind leaves a mark on the planet only for as long as mankind exists. At the point we remove our hand from the water, from the planet, the impression disappears. We are only important while we are here. When we are gone, we are not only unimportant, we are forgotten – not even forgotten – every other non-human organism by which we would be survived only has the capability of knowing that humans are not here NOW – like we were never here. If my dog were to be interviewed after I have departed the scene and asked, “Do you miss your human?” – she would simply wag her tail and bark and the barking could be translated to mean, “What is a human?”

We need to consider ourselves lucky that we actually made it this far and in our celebrity of those pathways we need to begin sharing what is left, equally, with everyone and everything still left on the planet. Because, if we have no more right to be here than any other person or creature or organism, do we really have any more right to the resources and wealth of the planet than anyone or anything else? None of us have any say in the matter of being born, so when we are, we need to realize that we are in the same boat as every other living creature on the planet and that we have a responsibility (and a right) to co-exist with all of them.

I recall a song, titled Desiderata, from my youth that contained the lyric, “You are a child of the universe – no less than the trees and the stars – you have a right to be here.” And, of course, by YOU, it was implied that All of Us have a right to be here. So, if you don't have a dog with whom you can play fetch, go sit on the toilet for awhile and you will eventually come to your good senses about a lot of this stuff.


About the Creator

John Oliver Smith

Baby, son, brother, child, student, collector, farmer, photographer, player, uncle, coach, husband, student, writer, teacher, father, science guy, fan, coach, grandfather, comedian, traveler, chef, story-teller, driver, regular guy!!

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  • John Oliver Smith (Author)about a year ago

    Whoa!! Makes you think eh?

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