Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

Since I am a regular reader and commenter on “Trail Baboon,” I have come to feel kinship with these noble creatures and have occasionally described myself as “a baboon” with what I thought was justified pride.

Then few weeks ago I saw a show titled “The Secret Life of Primates” on PBS, which inspired me to do even more research online.

After that I became somewhat identity-confused because there were several baboon traits that I liked, and then there were some others.

What I liked:

  • In several species of baboons, the alpha female rules. She gets the first and best food, water, sleeping spots.
  • The adults groom each other in a “significant social function” and ritual.
  • Young baboons are active and playful, especially while the adults groom each other.
  • The females tend to be the primary caretaker of the young, although several females will share the duties for all of their offspring.
  • Baboons are completely at ease in trees, thanks to their long arms and legs.

What I didn’t like:

  • The weakest female develops a real inferiority complex.
  • Among the males, there is a lot of infighting for lead position.
  • Baboons  eat EVERYTHING they can find – fruit, insects, small fish and animals, and seed pods embedded in anything including dried out dung piles of, say, a rhino.

That last part about picking seeds out of rhino dung completely put me off the feeling that I am in any way like a baboon.

And yet I still admire the tree-swinging and grooming and females-in-charge aspect. Is it wrong to accept kinship with only the admirable baboon traits, while distancing myself from the negatives?

With concern,
Barbara in Robbinsdale

I told BiR that her somewhat tentative baboon-affinity is no different than the difficult choice politicians face when they are asked to take a picture alongside some random stranger. One wants to be friendly and accepting, although if the price of putting your arm around someone (or following them on Twitter) means you endorse everything they have done or will ever do, it quickly becomes impossible to socialize. I suspect before long all our public associations will have to be accompanied by a detailed disclaimer statement – fine print that will clearly lay out what we like and don’t like about them.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

45 thoughts on “Ask Dr. Babooner”

  1. Funny BiR! I just read something recently (was it here?) about Americans becoming “silos” – in that they more and more associate only with folks who are just like themselves. Such a shame. One of my best friends is an evangelical, gun-toting Republican – about as far to the right as I am to the left. But if I had cut him out of my life because he’s not just like me I would have missed a fun, generous, extremely loving father and grandfather, not to mention all his family who I am also very close to.

    So I think we can go ahead and identify with the baboon traits that we want to identify with and ignore the other traits. Easy peasy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Have to agree with vs here.

    The current trend of dissociating with someone likeable who unfortunately has some indesireable traits or beliefs is a big contributor to the gridlock and stagnation we are living with.

    It also seems to be cranking up the volume on the acrimony. “Mixed company” once caused people to temper their speech. Much of what passes for discussion today seems to consist of shouting into a positive feedback echo chamber.

    That said, I respectfully disagree with BiR. I’m sure “recovered” seed pods, properly prepared, are delicious.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. One of the enduring appeals of Garrison Keillor’s perspective on life is his evocation of small town life. People in small towns are obliged to live near people they wouldn’t have chosen for associates, and that experience will always challenge our prejudices.

      Count me among those who worry about how technology allows us to limit the range of our friends as well as limiting the viewpoints we are exposed to. You and I agree on that.


        1. Precisely. Families are a mixed bag. Some of mine are the sort who have grown into being people I don’t even want to know, some are delightful people I would never even meet were it not that we are related.

          Many of my cousins have brought excellent people into the family.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. Embrace your shadow, that’s what I say. Just about everything I can think of has a down side of some sort, which is why striving for perfection is really irrational.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Good morning. I don’t have a problem being friends with people who are very different from me in some ways as long as they don’t impose their ways on me too heavily. If I know that some one is in favor of things I strongly dislike I will be slow to form a close friendship with that person. For example, I kind of doubt that I could become a good friend of Michele Bachmann.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m with you Jim – one of the things that makes my friendship great w/ my buddy is that neither of us ever tries to “convert” the other.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oddly enough, I have several frends who have shocked me with some of the things they have posted on Facebook, but since we are both grownups, what happens on fb stays on fb and we do not “engage”.


        1. Because engagement of that sort on fb would probably lessen the enjoyment of our real life friendship.


  5. My undergraduate college forced students to live in dormitories. As a freshman I found that a shattering experience. I was a shy guy in high school, someone with just a few friends. After my undergraduate years I returned to living alone, with a few close friends. But those four years when I lived with about 50 random men I had not chosen as friends were amazingly instructive. As distasteful and frightening as that experience was, I learned more about life than I could have learned living as a shy person.

    Living with strangers teaches you how many surprising sides there are to most people. Men I reflexively rejected when I met them became dear friends to me when I understood them. A man who had been a hero for me showed, when I knew him, limitations that I never could have guessed. People are complex and endlessly amazingly if you learn to see them in depth. I learned that when I was eighteen, although everything in me wanted to run away and live in privacy.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There are days when I can barely stand myself let anyone else. I’m afraid I’m one of those people who don’t suffer fools gladly. The husband of one my friends believes in any number of conspiracy theories, and inevitably, he’ll bring one or more of them up whenever I see him. Add to that that he’s extremely religious, and it’s very challenging to find any common ground and a basis for a normal conversation with him. It’s really bizarre. He’s a likeable enough fellow, but what do you say to someone who insists on talking about stuff that you find ludicrous? It doesn’t help matters that he sometimes wear patchouli oil!


  7. Dear BIR:
    You must accept the good with the bad.
    The better and worst.
    The cheddar and the liverwurst
    The happy and sad
    The common and the extraordinary
    The night and the day
    The work and the play
    The real and the imaginary

    Liked by 1 person

  8. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?
    – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    Liked by 4 people

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