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.
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?
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?