The im­por­tance of be­ing goats and cows

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL -

in­sti­tu­tion­alised by school text­books that con­tinue to idolise kings and con­querors. We, there­fore, re­main un­aware of the role played by the scape­goats and sa­cred cows in our lives. We hardly ever no­tice the games they play even in closely watched po­lit­i­cal spec­ta­cles such as the long marches that are nei­ther long nor marches.

I won­der if the long-marchers know that the famed long march of his­tory was not an ad­vance against the en­emy but a re­treat to safety. You may safely bet they don’t. Most of us, be­ing scape­goats, are too dif­fi­dent to stop bleat­ing and, in­stead, boldly con­front our re­spec­tive sa­cred cows, ru­mi­nat­ing calmly, ‘far from the madding crowd’, in their palaces and bunkers. Oc­ca­sion­ally they spew fire and brim­stone at uniden­ti­fied po­lit­i­cal ob­jects from their well-de­fended con­tain­ers de­signed to hold cer­e­monies as well, such as pre­sen­ta­tion of sur­ren­der doc­u­ments. Gen­eral Dou­glas McArthur, be­ing an Amer­i­can, com­man­deered a whole bloom­ing bat­tle­ship for this pur­pose. How waste­ful.

But let’s be­gin from the be­gin­ning. If the Book of Ge­n­e­sis is any guide, the goats and cows were cre­ated a lit­tle ear­lier than man, on Day Six. Thus, the goats and cows were al­ready there when man was born. De­spite this pri­macy of sorts in favour of the goats and cows, it was or­dained that man be ‘fruit­ful and mul­ti­ply’ and have ‘do­min­ion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, and over the cat­tle...’

While man has en­thu­si­as­ti­cally been fruit­ful and does fu­ri­ously mul­ti­ply, his do­min­ion over the cat­tle is not what could be ex­pected. There is good rea­son, though, for this un­ex­pected turn of events. In the be­gin­ning man had a rea­son to be a bit dif­fi­dent and shy of the com­pany of other in­hab­i­tants of his first habi­tat. Nib­bling at the for­bid­den fruit and clad in fig-leaf, man pre­ferred to hide him­self rather than saunter provoca­tively on a cat­walk.

That dif­fi­dence grew into a self-ef­fac­ing hu­mil­ity to such a de­gree that man came to at­tribute his own traits, good and bad, to var­i­ous an­i­mals. This is re­flected in the sim­i­les that are cur­rent even to­day: brave like a lion, strong like a bull, clever like a fox, in­no­cent like a lamb, stupid like an ass, stub­born like a mule, and so on, down to de­serter like a rat. Con­vinced of the bor­rowed na­ture of his traits, man came to see the other an­i­mals as role models.

What the an­i­mals think of us can, at best, be a mat­ter of wish­ful spec­u­la­tion by us, ex­cept when kicked by an ass, chased by a dog, dis­lodged by a horse, or re­garded con-

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