August 10, 2022–This morning I woke up as a cow.
Rising from rest, hind end first, I immediately started searching for something to eat. There… there was a nice patch of grass.
I cropped the green greedily, with no attempt at chewing. My only concern was getting it into my gullet. Time for digesting later.
Ooh… look! I see another patch over there a few steps. It looks greener and longer. I’ll graze on that for awhile.
I hear other cows. I look up. They are gathering on another part of the pasture. Lots of cows together, must mean lots of grass. I don’t want to miss out. Hey, cows… I’m coming over. Let me in. They ignore me.
It is getting hot, and I am feeling tired and thirsty. I find a tank and drink deep, then amble over to a live oak. I fold into its shade, next to the rest of the herd. I cough up my cud and begin to ruminate.
Being a cow is a comfortable life.
What I just described is how many of us get through each day. We gorge down news and information and gossip, then cough it back up in our cuds, rolling it round in our mouths, re-swallowing it with satisfaction, as if we created it in the first place.
I was searching for a metaphor for what we are seeing in today’s social media climate. I am growing disgusted with our intellectual laziness, myself included. We listen to the same herds, send out the same memes, recycle the same talking points we heard in our group or favorite news channel, and think we are being clever and original. Yet we are no more inspirational than that herd of cattle chewing its cud under the oak tree.
One thing I’m noticing about the most strident among us, in any political party, the ones most ardent about telling us how to fix every wrong and change the world, are mysteriously missing from any position where we would be able to do something about it. The ones screeching loudest are not always the same ones running for local political office, serving on nonprofit boards, sitting on advisory committees, volunteering as mentors. People doing any of those things generally 1) don’t have time for endless social posting, and 2) have first-hand experience realizing that a meme won’t fix anything or change a single mind.
If you read this and and think it only applies to people “on the other side,” perhaps you should go back and examine your own interaction style.
So I’m trying hard not to become a cow. No matter how comfortable and satisfying it feels, remember there is only one reason cattle exist.
How would it change the discussion if we removed all personalities from our political discourse? What if we debated–and voted on–policy only without the need for an intermediary to vote by proxy? It seems our political energy is diverted attacking the other side’s representative, usually based on external factors such as appearance, skin color, perceived gender, body shape, and even speech patterns and accents.
I sometimes fantasize how our world would transform if we were all just floating brainstems, with interconnecting ganglia, exchanging ideas as quantum packets of energy.
Enough fantasizing. I spy some delicious grass.