The Law of the Squirrel, a “Cute-ish” Ethic for Squirrels—Deadly for Humanity

“If it’s there, and I can get at it, then it’s right and just for me to take it. What is ‘it’? Anything that feeds my fancy. I am a free agent, and my only obligation is to my personal survival.”

That is a primitive form of reasoning, a balancing of alternatives. What are the squirrel’s alternatives? Calculating the dangers from any human seen looking on from a distance against the desirability of “it”. The little bugger has worked hard to earn this opprobrium.

A human would call it a “crime” to steal bird-food from the bird-feeder and bringing the feeder crashing down after the squirrel’s rough “break-in” treatment of an expensive feeder. I did not know he had the tooth-power to gnaw through the tough lid of my hard plastic garbage can, now exposing to the elements the feed I kept there.

Human squirrels are another deadly serious matter. The newspapers report every day stories of human beings who have adopted the primitive reasoning of that law of the jungle, or, the “SQUIRREL’S ETHIC”, which reasoning is a rather low order of choice. Is it not a remarkable phenomenon that our prisons are full of human beings who have behaved like squirrels in a great variety of situations where they have made the squirrels choice, acted no better than at the simplest, sub-human level of primitive reasoning?

For the squirrel, there is the Have-A-Heart trap. For the human predator there is the humanity of “due process” to assess the magnitude of the crime and punishment. Both squirrel and convicted felon are relocated in a cage to another place.

One squirrel I know was back at his old stomping grounds before the re-locator could get back to the scene of the “crime”. How did the re-locator know it was the same miscreant? She had put a small daub of paint on the squirrels flank when it was in the cage. Animal recidivism, in man and beast. Hey, man —if I can call you that—I’m sorry. What was it you missed? Can you get it back? As for the beast, well, I’m sorry for you, too. But YOU HAVE GOT TO GO! I have a new strategy.

The squirrel(s) is/are now on a variable (I can’t watch him all the time!) operant conditioning schedule of negative reinforcement. I will-must teach him that the bird-feeder is off limits. However, since nature abhors a vacuum — guess what? I will eventually teach that lesson to all the squirrels in our world here. However, because they are territorial and if I can train one properly, he will stick around and find enough below the feeder where all the birds above have scattered seeds, and he will become my trained slave. You think? Nah! Unlikely.

Where in the development of a human life can experience in making choices be offered to the betterment of the individual and society? Moral and ethical choices?


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