The Real Value of the Horse
About the Human Need for Scapegoats
The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear,
and the oldest and strongest kind of fear
is fear of the unknown.
- H.P. Lovecraft
When looking at life on Earth, one quickly notices, that there are two different kinds of habitats, which exist in parallel to each other and which can both be occupied at the same time. One is wildlife, nature, the elements and its dangers. The other is the 'social' group, and its dangers.
Unlike other, solitary organisms on earth, the human being is a living organism which lives not only in nature, or wildlife as some call it, but also in 'social' groups. In other words, it lives in two habitats at once, both in nature, as well as in 'social' groups. As such, the human being has traded at least in part, some of its dependency for survival on its natural habitat, nature or the wilderness and the arbitrariness of that and its conditions, with a dependency for survival on the 'social' group and its arbitrariness. And how it is treated there.
This partial trading-off, of one habitat with the other, or this addition of a new habitat, required and adjustment in the abilities and instincts of the human being (or rather in its evolutionary predecessors who first did so) for success and survival. Because success and survival in nature depend on abilities like speed, strength, or the ability to conceive and use tools. Survival in the new habitat however, the group, depends on entirely different and completely new abilities and instincts. For instance, like seeing what others in the group have, what they do, or being able to fool and trick others.
This caused an entire new part of the brain to be developed. To be properly motivated to use the abilities required in a group, certain new instincts are required. To be interested in what others have, a strong instinct of envy is needed. And to be interested in what others do, a strong instinct to want to copy others is required. These things were not required when just living in nature or wildlife.
Life in a group is not necessarily easier than life in nature or wildlife though. And the pitfalls are not necessarily less deep or less dangerous or consequential. It's just different and therefore requires different abilities, characteristics, motivations, instincts and interests. Living in a group subjects an individual to stress, pressures and many different kinds of abuse, just as living in nature subjects an individual to the arbitrariness and hardship of natural conditions. It's just that in a 'social' group, the dangers are not manifested or represented by predators, floods, famines, lightning or forest fires, but by the other members of the group. By the other human beings.
It's hard to live with something that you fear.
- Enter psychology.
To be able to live with something that one fears, the human mind, perhaps more than any other living organism on Earth, has developed the ability to suppress and repress its true feelings. Welcome to the domain of Sigmund Freud and the subconscious.
Living in nature, we humans fear nature and its ability harm us. Naturally, it is almost all-powerful. Or was, until we had technology. And living in a group of other human beings, we fear other human beings. At least subconsciously. And this, not only due to harm and damages we may already have experienced at the hand of other human beings, but, besides their arbitrariness, even just for their considerable potential to kill, damage, destroy, harm or otherwise negatively affect us and our lives.
But we suppress these fears, in order to not suffer from them on a daily basis. We must suppress these fears, because only this suppressing makes living among humans possible in the first place. Nobody can live in constant fear without serious consequences. And the better someone is in suppressing these fears, the better he or she will be when interacting with humans, the more 'social' he or she will be and the more advantages he or she will gain from living in a group.
But this suppressing of our true natural fears does not come without a price. A hefty price, according to Sigmund Freud. Because these fears are not meaningless, nor completely unfounded or irrational, they - even when suppressed - force their way out in other, alternate ways. When living in nature and the wild, our suppressed fear of nature unloads itself and short-circuits through religion. Especially ancient, primitive or original forms of religion, such as paganism and its religious rites have or had the important job of relieving the stress caused to the human mind by the constant repressing of its fears of nature. By participating in religious rites and praying to the gods of nature, such as the gods of growth, the gods of the weather, etc., you can relieve yourself of the stress caused by repressing your fear of nature, or of those effects or gods.
The same thing goes for life in a group. Only here, it's not religion that relieves human beings of the stress of suppressing their fear of other human beings, but scapegoats. By regularly singling out one human being as a scapegoat - or in some cases a specific group of humans, as the supposed source of danger, which supposedly is responsible for all our fears of other human beings, and by punishing, killing, destroying, mutilating or in other ways severely harming or damaging that human being - or specific group, or his or her (or their) future, as is the case in modern forms of this, such as with slander, 'shit-storms' or 'cyber-mobbing', etc. in the Internet, we can relieve ourselves of the stress that accumulates in our subconscious, due to the constant suppressing of our fears of other human beings. - Which we must live with, interact with, and smile at every day after all. With a scapegoat, we can temporarily relieve ourselves of the stress created by suppressing the fear of living among a potentially extremely dangerous creature, actually the most dangerous creature on Earth, as if we were perfectly safe. Subconscious knows. And subconscious reacts.
Because our unconscious fear of other human beings and their potential to harm us - and the stress caused by the need to repress this and ignore it when living among them in a group, is just as real, well-founded or well-substantiated - and often necessary -, as is our fear of nature and its arbitrary conditions when living in it, along with the stress caused by that, both forms of stress call for a relief according to the level of stress. As said, the stress caused by repressing fears of nature leads to religion and to religious rites. Relieving ourselves of the stress caused by suppressing fears of humans, by singling out and destroying another human being (or group) as scapegoat, in effect serves the exact same purpose for living in a group, as religion or religious rites do for living in nature or wildlife. And this stress-relief through scapegoats occurs just as regularly and periodically, as praying to the goods of nature when living in the wild.
It is, as paradox as it sounds, a question of mental and psychological 'health', or hygiene or well-being, to single out other human beings or groups and abuse them as scapegoats. It contributes, just like religion when living in the wild, to a feeling of well-being and safety that seems not achievable for many, or even the vast majority, by any other means. It does this by greatly relieving the stress caused by the necessary constant repressing of fears of human beings to the unconscious when living with them in a group.
Now, we humans as a species are starting to overcome our fears of nature and the wild. Thanks to our tremendous power which technology and industrialization are giving us, as well as the resulting change in our lifestyle. Of course, that's why the need for religion declines in modern western countries. We simply don't have as many fears of nature and its arbitrary conditions anymore, that we are repressing and which can only find a way or a channel out of us through religion. We must no longer fear the gods of good hunting, of famine and thirst, of protection from sickness, etc. We now control a lot of our natural, previously wild surrounding.
This doesn't apply to our other habitat, to our living in 'social' groups though. The human being has not lost a single ounce of its potential danger, and therefore its threat, in all this time and with the tremendous advancement of technology and control over nature. And therefore, unlike our fears of nature, our fears of other human beings have not diminished, nor the need to repress those fears when living among them. And therefore neither the stress caused by this repressing, and therefore, ultimately, our need for scapegoats. Our need for other human beings (or groups) which we can punish, mutilate, destroy or severely harm, just in order to relieve ourselves of the stress which our repressing of fears of other human beings causes us, is completely undiminished and unchanged by technology and our newly acquired control over nature. That's why such horrible things as the burning of witches, the persecution of homosexuals or what happened in Nazi Germany are still completely within human nature. They are - in effect, a psychologically necessity. The human mind and how it works, its levers and mechanics have not changed one ounce. And likely, will not, in a very, very long time. We might have overcome our fears of nature and the wild and therefore our need for religion, but not our fear of other human beings among which we live, must live, and therefore our need for scapegoats, to relieve ourselves of these fears and the stress of repressing them.
If you want proof of this, you don't have to look very far. While what the Germans did under the Nazi regime was probably one of the most striking examples of this human need - certainly one of the most well-remembered or at least well-documented examples, the signs and tendencies for the human need for scapegoats are obviously detectable almost everywhere where you look. Not only in straight-out wars, but also in modern western societies, in the media, in the Internet, in the news, etc. And this by no means is just an evil which inflicts the human race. As explained, it is naturally caused and as such, inflicts not only human beings, but also other life forms on Earth that live in groups and can be potentially dangerous or harmful to each other. Even animals.
To understand human beings, you must understand their fears of other human beings - which are justified when you are aware of the realities of living in a group of such potentially dangerous beings. And the mandatory need to repress these fears to the subconscious, in order to be socially competent and make life living among them livable. And you must be aware of the stress this causes. And consequentially, the psychological need of humans for scapegoats, to relieve themselves of this stress.
This is where contact with another species comes in. Not as a relief of this stress in the form of a non-human scapegoat, but as a relief in the form of a 'vacation', a time-out, or a holyday from living in a group with other humans. In other words, a vacation from one's own species. Without the need thereby, to be solitary and without any group and thereby face the fears and negative instincts of being completely alone. Another species, and living among it, can be a 'holiday' or time-out for the human unconscious, of the stress caused to it, by constantly having to repress well-founded, but unconscious fears of other human beings. And this, without blending out the healing and soothing quality and effect this has, by adding the strong instinctual stress of loneliness, which living in no group and with no other life forms at all would have.
What am I talking about?
Another species, such as horses, does not belong to our species, and therefore, neither to our 'social' group. At least not in regards to what is relevant here. And therefore we must not fear it and its members like we fear ourselves, other human beings. Because a horse will not screw you over to get your job or your promotion. It will not screw you over to make you sell your home or loose your business. It will not have sex with your partner behind your back. And it will not jump you in a dark alley at night to rob you, rape you, kill you or abuse you in other ways. Abuse you, like only humans can, and are capable of.
Horses - because they belong to a different 'social' group, namely their own, are far less dangerous, potentially dangerous and therefore fearsome, than members of our own group, humans. Of course a horse can kick you or bit you, but once you get to know them, it's easy, and actually mutually fun, to learn to avoid that.
So the real value of horses is not to ride them, as countless people are doing, quite mindlessly as I might add, but to use them as a 'holiday' and a time-out from our own species. And thereby to escape the stress which human beings experience - and must experience, even if they suppress it and are not aware of it, when living and being in a group among other human beings. At least temporarily.
In other words, the real value of the horse is not riding or anything else people usually do with horses, but as a vacation from our own species. As a means to reduce our stress, at least temporarily, of fear and of needing to repress fear of other humans. And therefore of our need for human scapegoats. And thus, ultimately, to teach us humans about this need, to lift it into our consciousness and help us become aware of it. By "magically" removing it from us temporarily and letting us experience the difference when among them.
To be able to take a vacation, a time-out from one's own species, one's own 'social' group of human beings, to live and to be among another species, is so much like the message or plot of James Cameron's movie 'AVATAR', that I feel it must be mentioned.
In 'AVATAR', Parker Selfridge thinks the value of Pandora is in its Unobtainium mineral deposits. "That's why we're here" he says in a key scene... And he's right, indeed, in 'AVATAR, there is a strong human interest in Unobtainium.
In real life, most people on Earth think the value of horses is as riding mounts. And they're right, indeed, there is a strong human interest in riding horses, in using them as riding mounts. And consequentially humans use them as such. With similar or identical results as the pursuit of human interests unfold in 'AVATAR' on Pandora.
The real value of the horse is not as a riding mount, but as an invaluable temporary relief not only of our - in effect quite well-founded - fears of other human beings, but even more importantly, of the stress caused by having to repress those fears. And even more importantly, as an alternate method to relieve that stress. Not with a human scapegoat or human scapegoats, but with a temporary time-out from this stress. In other words, the real value of horses is as a relief for human beings of the need for scapegoats.
Now tell me that's not something humanity or humans as a species need, looking at the facts and the history of the human race.
Beyond giving us just temporary relief of stress caused by repressing fear of other human beings, and thereby relieve us, at least temporarily of our need for scapegoats, horses can do even more for us though. Ultimately and beyond that, they can teach us about this need, and make us become aware of it. And this, not by theoretical lecturing as is done here, but by 'hands-on' experience, by living with us and teaching us by own experience. By letting us feel the difference on an instinctual and unconscious level when we are among them. That's why it makes me so angry, when horses are used for anything less. That's why it makes me so angry, when I see people who just want to ride horses. Mindlessly. That's what makes me so angry, when people don't 'See' this. When they don't see the real value of the horse as I am trying to explain here.
Of course, all this was just talking about the needs of those human beings, the vast majority of the human race, who require relief of the stress of repressing fears of other human beings and relief of the need for scapegoats. In other words, it's talking about the human race as such. It's not about those human beings, the minority, who are actually abused as scapegoats. Those unfortunate human beings need a vacation and a time-out from their own species as well. Only for different, a psychologically much more direct, simple and perhaps pressing reason. But that's another story, for another text and I'm sure they'd make great caretakers for horses.