* * * * *
Exit stage left. Mind the empty boxes.
That story, of course, was just an analogy. The senselessness of its main character should be obvious. (If not, I give up; stop reading now.) What I hope to do here is show the equal senselessness of a stance that some furries and dragons insist on taking: hating humans.
* * * * *
Let me start with the usual disclaimer. No, I'm not arguing
humanity is perfect. Obviously I find fault with it in some way; after
all, I identify myself as a dragon while living in a human body.
Yes, like many other therianthropes out there, I started questioning my identity when I realized how different (read, if you want, "better") I was from the humans I associated with. (This was while I was in high school; I hope my human audience will understand my attitude in the proper perspective.)
But I don't hate humans. I hate stupidity. There is a big difference: I dislike stupid people because they're stupid, not because they're people. I acknowledge that dragons are just as capable of that stupidity. I judge humans as a whole on an even keel; if someone is stupid, they'll reveal it to me soon enough, and I don't need to (or try to) prejudge that based on race.
Parts of my audience may find this distinction subtle, and I wish I could make it more black and white. I think what it boils down to is that I just don't hate people. Stupidity is bad -- people aren't bad. Period.
To quote Booker T. Washington, "I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me hate him."
It was a human who said that, by the way. As were -- unless you've got rather a unique worldview -- Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Thomas Aquinas, and Loren Eiseley.
* * * * *
Which brings me to my first gripe about the human-haters. The
fallacy of "Oh, well, those people are okay."
If you're going to express hate for a race, don't dodge behind semantic games. "I hate humans" and "Booker is a human" equals "I hate Booker." p --> q and q = r means p --> r. Basic logic.
What are you really saying, if you dispute that tautology? There's only three arguments: The first premise doesn't hold, the second premise doesn't hold, or you accept the result. Let's look at them one at a time:
* * * * *
The second fallacy of human-haters is the over-generalization. This usually comes about when they are asked "Why?" -- and provide examples of "bad human behavior" that never quite manage to damn the species.
The following are real justifications that I've heard. Don't
blame me, I just write them down:
"They want to kill dragons (and are therefore racists)."
"Humans are destroying the planet."
"They kill others with guns (instead of claws)."
Let's get something clear here: Yes, these are valid targets of
protest. They are real social problems. But dragons are not alone in
trying to eliminate these attitudes ...:
For every group of skinheads out there, there is a CORE and NAACP.
For every major polluter, there is a Sierra Club and Green Party.
For every arms manufacturer, there is a Handgun Control and Million Mom March.
Do you hate the environmentalists as much as the strip miners?
Are the former "guilty by proxy"? Are they evil because they are
attacking the same problem you feel condemns their species?
If, on second thought, "those humans are okay," please refer back to the first fallacy, above.
* * * * *
The third fallacy -- the one responsible for the classroom analogy
above -- also seems to be one of the most common: "I'm only here to learn
what makes them hate us."
The backstory varies. Some say they were sent here as an assignment; some claim it was a punishment; some claim personal curiosity. But they all loathe this human life, long to get back to their previous existence, and will be rewarded when they're done here with the ability to return to a dragon state. And all they've got to do is point a finger at the reason for human hatred.
If you're looking for an easy explanation, this one is as plausible as any other, and I highly recommend it: Humans hate dragons because in a past life, they were sent to dragon worlds with a command to find out why dragons hated humans. They were consequently misplaced and miserable in their dragon lifetimes, and observed dragons whining about humans all the time, which made them secretly furious. They then returned to their human bodies as a reward when they were done, and vowed to kill the dragons.
Which is okay, because dragons are all racists anyway. Isn't it?
Let me make the same point in another way, by referring back to the original analogy. So you're looking for knowledge. The important question is: What are you going to do with it once you get it?
And the more important question is: What are you doing about that search right now?
If you're of the opinion that finding human motivations is important because you can kill them easier, and that humans and dragons are at war, then I have two words for you: Go away. I'm here as an ambassador. Some of us believe that peace is possible, and we don't want you sabotaging our efforts.
If, on the other hand, you hope to use this knowledge about humans in order to avoid conflict in the future ... then why in the name of all that is holy are you getting mired down in hatred?
If one wants to discover how CFCs affect the atmosphere, one doesn't spray CFCs all over the place and see how much is destroyed. Likewise, if one wants to ultimately improve relations with humans, one doesn't waltz into the middle of a major human homeworld and rant vocally about how evil they are!
* * * * *
"But the fact remains," some of you may protest, "that humans
suck. Look at how messed-up my life on this world has been. Look at how
poorly they are treating their 'ambassadors.' It's their fault."
My first response to that is that I'm truly sorry if your human upbringing was poor. Not everyone was as lucky as myself in selecting (or being chosen by, or being randomly paired with) tolerant parents in a nice middle-class city. It isn't necessarily human malice that caused your woes; it's just as possible that you're a victim of poor circumstance or ill-informed choice.
My second response is that, at some point, we all just have to grit our teeth and sit down at the dinner table in front of us. As dragons, I suspect that we are by and large accustomed to more. (Curiously enough, those who complain the loudest about their human lives tend to claim higher positions in their dragon social hierarchy. This gets no sympathy from me, but that's another topic.) Well, culture shock sucks, but it's hit us; we are getting smaller portions of different food, and ultimately it's your choice whether to enjoy the meal.
If you're an emperor, you won't know how peasants eat. Does that give you the right to be offended when they serve you a dinner of beef stew and bread? Are you even going to stop and think that for them, beef might be a luxury, and they've spent more to feed you than they have to support their whole family that day?
(This analogy does partially break down, because it seems obvious on the surface that we as dragons don't get special treatment here on Earth. But stop and think ... how much effort have your friends made to tolerate your dragon leanings, even without understanding what they really mean? How many of their own opinions are they willing to set aside just to accept you as you are?)
* * * * *
That brings us (in a roundabout way) to the last, and most
serious, fallacy of the misanthrope: That, because I am a fellow dragon,
I necessarily share those feelings.
In a word: No. (Bad reptile, no biscuit.) Draconity and human-hating do not go hand in hand. Draconity is not about drawing a line in the sand. Draconity is about declaring one's identity, not one's difference. I am a dragon to be me ... I am not a dragon to get away from myself.
It hurts me greatly when a dragon takes a stance that condones hating others. We have so much in common. There is so much we could teach each other -- such a bond that our common race could create. But I feel no kinship with them.
I cannot deny their draconity, no more than they could deny mine. But I feel ashamed. I feel like I have to apologize to all of my human friends for the actions of my kind. And I have to put these other dragons at a distance, because I want no hate in my life. So I can't even work to change their behavior without compromising myself in some way, letting those negative emotions rub off on me.
I believe in dragons. I believe in our potential. And I believe that hatred isn't it. If the non-dragons in the audience will excuse my indulgence in a little species vanity, I believe we are capable of more than other races; we can be teachers, leaders, guides, or stewards to levels of enlightenment that shorter-lived beings would otherwise struggle blindly for.
But only if we reach our own potential first. And that's not going to happen if we get caught up in how much better we are than whatever silly form we happen to be occupying at the moment.
* * * * *
And, ultimately, we have to remember that it's the small things
that make a difference.
It sounds cliched, but we really do change the world one person at a time. And in this world of massive information transfer, we're likely to affect people we didn't even realize were listening.
In that spirit, I'd like to leave you with one final thing to ponder. Whether you're a human or a dragon, picture yourself talking to a member of the other group. Imagine them pointing to a particularly embarassing member of their species (the professor in the story above is a good example), grimacing apologetically, and telling you:
"Please understand, we're not all like that."
And then imagine yourself nodding in sympathy.
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