Throughout history a lot of great things have been accomplished through hard work and determination. There’s a dignity to work. Successful work brings a feeling of accomplishment. The work ethic is revered. The old saying is ‘The Devil finds work for idle hands.’ Actually the Devil finds work for everybody but the people who are already working are too busy to do it. I agree with all of that. Work is a good thing. But from what I can see, it’s unnatural. It is not the default position in nature. Left alone in the wild, animals do not work and would never work unless forced to.
Animals are naturally lazy. They don’t set the alarm, they get up when they feel like it. Some of them sleep for the whole winter. They don’t get dressed, they don’t brush their teeth, they don’t comb their fur. The only grooming they do is licking themselves which is generally discouraged for humans. They don’t make their beds, they don’t even get dressed. They laugh at the concept of casual Fridays. Now I know some people are going to disagree with my position. They will say that animals hunt which is not a lazy activity. But hunting is not work, it’s survival. They hunt so they can eat so they can stay alive. They’re not hunting so they can afford a nicer car or a bigger house or a timeshare in Maui.
The only animals that work are the ones that man has gotten his hands on. Elephants moving logs or horses carrying cowboys or pigeons delivering mail. Man has such a distaste for anything that doesn’t work that he forces animals to get up off their duff and start making a living. Bird dogs and hunting dogs and guard dogs and drug dogs and service dogs and cow dogs at one time were just dogs. We changed all that. We gave them jobs and made them work. We think we’re doing them a favour but we’re really just making them more like us.
If animals ever figure out how to talk, we could be in for some serious criticism. And it’s not just the captivity that makes animals work. When I go to the zoo, they’re all either asleep or just sitting there. Once in a while one of them will move and the crowd goes nuts. I know they often put on zoo shows with birds or monkeys or dolphins or whatever but they’re just restricting access to the food supply to get the animals to do what they want. If somebody ever leaves the food pantry open, those animals won’t be coming to work any time soon. Go out into the wild and see if you can get a falcon to land on your head. Not a chance. Instead he’ll scarf down a mouse and go for a nap.
Most of us put pets in a different category from working animals. We don’t expect them to do much. Oh sure maybe a trick or two but generally we just like them to be there when we get home and to be glad to see us. They say one year of a dog’s life is equal to seven human years. It’s certainly true for hours of sleep. Dogs sleep about 18 hours a day. Even with their abbreviated lifespan, they don’t seem to be pressured into an ambitious work schedule.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we should all be lazy. I just think it’s healthy to accept that in nature, laziness is not an embarrassment, it’s a sign of extreme accomplishment. If you can lay around for most of the day and most of the year and most of your life and still be able to feed yourself and your family, you are da man. Maybe one day, humans will adopt that attitude. But according to my wife, it will not be in my lifetime.