Think about karma. If you are an atheist or otherwise do not accept reincarnation as a theistic system of belief, I will try to be as scientific, orderly, and accessible as I can for your sake. I will outline karma for you who do not have a working understanding. Birth presents itself as an unending stream of days: The same air molecules and the same water molecules made George Washington as make us. George Washington’s actions 300 years ago are affecting us today, his sweeping actions as a leader and his small actions as a human who ate vegetables. Now take this into consideration: Humans have existed in our upright-and-hairless, soft, often pink shapes for two million years. Two million years we have had stupid ass bowl cuts and sidelong glances. You can Google it. This is scientific fact, and it is creepy as hell considering that the furthest back our recorded history extends is about six or eight thousand years.
An analog for this eight-thousand versus two-million relationship is American history. We in America (though in India and some other Eastern countries and traditions, they count the years differently) have been around for about 250 years. If, in high school rhetoric, we outlined American history the way that we outline social-human-animals, we would not include in the curriculum anything that happened before the 1980s.
About twelve thousand years ago, people started a new trajectory. Instead of sharing fruit and nuts that we picked, we thought up this equal exchange of labor and food. That’s to say, we invented labor. For two million years, we had about twenty hours a week of “work,” which is to say, “goin’ huntin’ with friends.” The rest of the week we spent dancing, having sex, and gossiping. Then, for some unknown reason, we invented labor. We got The Written Word to go along with it. Out of the murky, impossibly dark mystery-times, we developed a perpetually “upward” motion machine in the form of “social class” and “agriculture.” Then we developed classism. No longer was everybody in the cluster friends with everybody else. We got new social dynamics. We got a new sense of humor. Eventually we got kingdoms. We burned down the Library at Alexandria.
What developed next was unprecedented, and frankly, karmically, nobody knew what to expect. The World Wide Web blossomed into existence. It spread its netting across all of our neurons so quickly that we today can’t know what effects it has brought–but forget all of the questions that that raises. I am talking solidly in historical terms right now. The top of the class-hierarchy is trying to grind it back down. The middle and bottom of the hierarchy, of those who have access to it, are forming into clusters that are very similar to the hunter-gatherer clusters that we have been accustomed to for so long. Us in our social clusters, we are getting comfortable.
Five and ten years ago, the internet was not comfortable. Four years ago, Facebook started to explode and we saw a new system emerging. Last year and two years ago, this new rhythmic cycle took hold of the web, the cycle under which we now operate. Our patriarchs and matriarchs, whom we call corporations, are at the top of the outmoded food chain. (Outmoded because whatever called it into existence is clearly no longer a threat to our health and wellbeing, considering the plenty and the nourishment that is being withheld from the hungry.) That food chain, which blossomed from the end of our two-million-year innocence, has our patriarchs and matriarchs bristling at the idea of independently operating, non-reliant clusters of people.
But we are comfortable and those at the top are not. We are hunting and gathering nourishment in the form of social exchange, while the plutocrats are simply festering in their so-called wealth. They are developing slowly, and we at the bottom are developing slowly, and all this slow development is relatively pretty fucking quick, but karmically we have all hit a sort of stride in the past couple years that is, simply put, outlandish.
We are humans with egos, we are filled with emotion, and we don’t know what to do about it besides tell our friends, consume what we like to consume, and occasionally smash something. Naturally, all of these have karmic push-and-pull, and naturally, that karmic push-and-pull, which we feel in the form of “should and shouldn’t,” is being set aside for thoughts of “later.” Good or bad, I am not leaning either way on the matter.
I am here writing to you to say that our pets know things that we don’t. Set aside karma. My dog from my childhood is fourteen now, the equivalent of about a hundred years old in human years. He loves getting pets, and food is his favorite time of the day. When I stop petting him he jams his head into my hand. When I get distracted by my phone and stop petting him, he gets sad in a way that I struggle to put into words. He looks at me like we’re the last two people left at the bar and I stopped talking to him because I’m watching the TV. I get high with him and he lays there and meditates, and then he looks at me like he can feel the ebb-and-flow of tides within my heart, and I can feel the ebb-and-flow tides within his, and I hug him and we can feel the vastness that surrounds the borders of us, and I can know that he has never felt anything like this before, and he can know my familiarity that I do it every week, and I can embody his elderly, childlike innocence, and he can embody my overwrought, cocky attitude, and we can both rub each other the wrong way sometimes but oh I love my puppy so much aw yes I do what a good dog….