Anyone who’s had two dogs understands the title. If you give each of them a bone, they’ll each want the one the other has. They also don’t want to relinquish the one they already have. The resultant conflict, the closest a dog can come to envy, will send them into a muddle of canine angst. Eventually, they’ll give up on both bones and sulk But give only one bone to either dog and it will covetously gnaw it while the other plots to steal it away. Over the course of the ensuing days the bone will pass back and forth between the two until it’s a soggy mess that you have to take away before one of them inhales it.
A word about envy. As mentioned above, it’s the only human trait dogs are incapable of – jealousy yes, envy no. It will likely covet your affections, but it won’t care if its housemate or any other dog had a nicer collar or more ornate leash. I bring up this subject not to tell dog stories, but because its a simplified example of a human trait.
Consider a person who makes $250,000 a year. Pretty good, right? But suppose he, she, or it lives in a neighborhood where the average income is $500,000. Sheer misery. But if the surrounding annual income is $125,000 our hypothetical wage earner is rooster of the realm, at least as regards income. But there’s another ineluctable problem. Humans are programmed to seek, but not endure happiness. Our founding document recognizes the former, but does not elaborate on the latter. Its authors were likely too busy to dwell on the issue
Perhaps the most essential human characteristic is dissatisfaction. It appears to be directly proportional to how well everything is going.The better the conditions of life the more likely one is to be irked by trivialities. Another variation of this trait is the ill effect of leisure. We evolved in toil, disease, and misery. Our great achievement has been to greatly attenuate this awful trio, but as always there’s a price. The tab is the time to dwell at length on the trivial until it reaches suppuration.
While dissatisfaction is everywhere the scourge of the affluent, the United States has birthed a particularly venomous variation that has spread to the rest of the affluent world. The beneficiaries of a system several centuries in the making have the free time, high priced low quality education, and a lifetime of indolence to construct a chaotic simulacrum of how society can be reorganized.
Consider the numerous deformities that are currently offered as paths to a better world. A startling number of those charged with the betterment of their constituents have passionately embraced positions that are self evidently loony. The lunatic list is easily compiled by anyone with a pencil and paper to use an archaic format. Gender, pronouns, empowered and distant bureaucracies, the conversion of science into theology, climate porn, authoritarianism, criminalizing dissent – all and much more are the result of decades of indoctrination posing as education.
Even corporations purportedly in pursuit of profit have leapt across the frontier of sanity to embrace a scarecrow of self-destructive dogmas that anyone who really works for a living – eg, produces something tangible – can tell in a glance is utter rubbish. Corporate behavior seems another example of the madness of crowds. Ernest Hemingway said that everyone needs a bullshit detector. The gadget seems in short supply today and I don’t think we can blame the shortage on Vladimir Putin.
The response of the crazed to the simple observation that their beliefs, nostrums, attempts to reconstruct society on a basis that will destroy personal liberty is typical of utopians. They cannot see that should they succeed they will be the first casualties of any emergent new order. There’s room for only one top guy in an authoritarian society. If you tell them of their likely fate, you will be struck with an epithet. Racist is the nom de foi currently favored. We live in an age that is littered with the droppings of the semi-educated. Civic life seems an infinite set of the Emperor’s New Clothes with all the voice overs by Mel Blanc. He could also do both houses of congress.
Dogs want the bone they don’t have. Humans aren’t that much different. Whatever we have is not good enough – be it a constitution or a government benefit. We need to be kept busy enough in the pursuit of the essential such that we haven’t time to lust after the ideal. Idle hands do the devils’ work.