After last week's podcast on Raising Human Apes, it seemed fitting to give this New Moon's fragilis award to the strange and frightening "children on leashes" phenomenon! I'm sure you've seen them... You can usually find leashed children at shopping malls, amusement parks. airports and walking down suburban streets next to the family Golden Retriever.
ReWilding is about transcending domestication,
and domestication is about dominion of one over another.
In the Raising Human Apes podcast, Arthur Haines begins with a powerful statement, "Children are sovereign humans." He goes on to share how he and his partner are raising their daughter Samara following this principle. At age 2, Samara (pictured below) helps her parents forage wild food for dinner, eats organ meats and is learning the indigenous language of Passamaquoddy.
While I realize that parents do not put their children on leashes in an attempt to domesticate them, the children in these photos certainly do not look as though they're being treated as sovereign humans, eh?
This topic brings to mind a passage from my article "Count Your Leashes" in Dispatch 4: The Operant Condition:
The greatest leash of all, the thickest, and probably the shortest too, is that of –– I know this sounds radical –– Civilization itself. Without much conscious reflection we all scurry about attempting to appease it, to be ‘enough’, to satisfy its endless cravings for our productivity, and to demonstrate to it that we are contributing members. Our lives become like a kind of sad dog show, wherein we are led about before judges, attempting to be proud examples of submission, each of us attempting to conform to the standards of our breed. We prance, and force our heads up high as we are picked over by the cold eyes of judgement. We pass or we fail. Meanwhile, right outside there are wild wolves running free through the forest. They answer to no one save themselves, and the natural law of their pack. They no nothing of leads and leashes, of collars or dog bowls. They see no vets, obey no commands, and needn’t any hand out. They are shaped by the interaction of their genome with the natural environment that they are born in, and they die beholden to none, in a place as lush and fertile as that in which they were born.
So I ask you...
Do we want to be raising versions of this human ape?
Or this one?
Every New Moon, we will be awarding a fragilis award to our favorite person, product, procedure, etc. that represents the deepest depths of domestication!
WHAT EXACTLY IS A FRAGILIS?
I propose a re-designation of ourselves from the currently accepted H. sapiens sapiens to the new Homo sapiens domesticofragilis — meaning wise, fragile, domesticated man. Of course, at first glance this appears tongue-in-cheek, as if I were simply making a sarcastic quip. However, closer examination of the data indicates that when compared against still intact foraging peoples, we moderns are quite fragile indeed. Be it the lack of physical robustness — a distinctly reduced ability to tolerate temperature extremes for example — or simply our tendency towards early degeneration — the diseases of civilization, i.e. diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. — modern humans are undeniably far more delicate than our ancestors. While some might argue that domesticogracilis would be more fitting, again I would assert that it is fragility that characterizes us, as gracility implies a kind of gracefulness that is not indicative of most "moderns".