Last evening, after dinner, I let my cat Tiger out to roam the patio. Not a big deal for many cats, but for Tiger, it is the same as if someone were to let me sit on the stage with the Cleveland Orchestra for 30 seconds. Oh my gosh, what to do first, what to look at first, what to sniff first...or in the case of the orchestra, where there would be no sniffing, which horn player to admire first.
Tiger is an inside cat with no front claws and no street sense, but he does love the patio. He pushes his boundaries by hopping onto the retaining wall or peaking under the gate. Daughter #1 was uneasy--what if he actually hopped over the retaining wall? What if he got out of this new boundary line and got run over by the neighbor girl who drives with reckless abandon? She snatched up the cat to put him back inside the house.
"He'll keep pushing the boundary and get out. And then he'll take over the world," she said, or something like that.
"Well, wouldn't the world be a better place with a cat like Tiger as it's leader?" I replied, Tiger being the most lovable, most affectionate, most forgiving creature on the earth.
I have often said that if everyone had a cat like Tiger, there would be no war or greed or manmade destruction. If we all had a warm, soft animal who loves us unconditionally, who waits by the door when he hears the car pull in to the garage, who sits at our feet, looking up at us with those golden eyes and wants nothing more than to nuzzle under our chins and wrap his little front arms around our necks, then we would have world peace. Imagine.
#1 didn't think the world would be better because she believes that power corrupts, and it turns people into animals. Her question that logically followed: "If power does that to people, then what would it do to animals?"
Would they be less unconditional in their love and acceptance? Would they be less loyal? Would they be less fair to the weakest and most vulnerable? Would they demand more than what's put in their bowl each morning, making the rest of us sacrifice to feed their insatiable appetites?
Short answer: I don't believe Tiger is a corruptible cat--Tiger, like all animals, lacks the knowledge of good and evil, so to speak. He only knows one side of Eden. He only knows affection. If left to his own devices, he would gobble up a bird now and then, but it would be a matter of survival and not a matter of malice.
I was about to say that if Tiger were in charge, he'd wash our feet, but that would probably be going too far, and it would probably be a touch sacrilegious. The point remains, though, that humans have a dark side, the other side of Eden, whether we're in power or not. And I'm seriously considering opening the patio gate and letting nature take it's course.