Of Anthropomorphism and Zoomorphism
(in light of current events)
Latte is a chocolate lab.
She has lived with us for over 3 years.
She’s an amazing dog.
She is hysterical in her antics.
She makes us laugh out loud at least once a day.
She has so much energy and personality that it is hard not to anthropomorphize her; to assign to her human emotions, motivations, wants, and desires.
But doing so actually is a disservice to Latte. Latte is not human. She is a dog; canine through and through. She always has been. She always will be. As a family, it is important that we never forget that. If we do forget it, we run the risk of missing what she really needs as a dog.
I say all of this because we as humans often do the same thing to our fellow human beings, only in reverse. And we have seen it all too often recently in our political and civic life.
In order to excuse our horrible behavior toward our fellow human beings, we often claim they were behaving like beasts and somehow deserved it;
in order to instill the fear of others not like us, we assign animal attributes to entire groups of people;
in order to intimidate and punish, we put people - even the smallest ones - in cages;
in order to demean someone, we may even call her a dog.
It is critically important for our life together that we speak out against the temptation to dehumanize, and that we stand up for one another; no matter what, no matter when, no matter who.
It is vital that we treat one another as humans keeping in mind that each and everyone of us has human emotions, motivations, wants, and desires. As a family, it is important that we never forget that. If we do forget it, we run the risk of missing what we each one really needs. We run the risk of losing, perhaps destroying, our humanity and our very selves.