The Human Threat

I’m one of those self-unemployed introverts who is adjusting quite well to our pandemic lockdown. I feel especially peaceful because forced quarantine has temporarily quieted many of the garden-variety “alpha” humans, the ones who thrive on dominating others. They have to stay at home too, and haven’t been able to conduct their usual bullying and stirring up trouble. Under “normal” circumstances, they have power over other people, and the other people just aren’t available to lord it over right now.

But that will end. I don’t dread getting sick as much as I dread what the alphas will start doing. Of the lockdown, they warn us, “this is not sustainable!” and “people will start going crazy!” I know they are right. At least half of Americans are expected to get COVID-19 before a vaccine is available (if one ever is) so I’ve made my uneasy peace with that. But human beings have always hurt me more than any disease. Humans have always been the biggest danger to humans. I appreciate that, in this brief moment, the human threat is made visible, and keeping distance is the rule of the day. I sense on the horizon the impending doom of our newfound boundaries being violated by angry, entitled, self-righteous alphas.

They are already abusing whoever is unlucky enough to be quarantined with them. Wife-battering and child abuse is on the rise. (I am immensely grateful I live only with my Momz, an excellent woman of 78.) Their rage and sense of impotence is building, and soon more will leave the confines of their homes to violate others. Then all the “nice” alphas will up their social policing, virtue-signaling, tribe-forming, scapegoating, and witch-hunting in response. The COVID-19 coronavirus is “novel,” but human behavior is not. I have enjoyed my little respite from it.


Author: Nina Paley

Animator. Director. Artist. Scapegoat.

4 thoughts on “The Human Threat”

  1. While I agree entirely with what you say about the coronavirus being “novel” and human behavior not, I would like to offer a view from an old white guy, a Vietnam veteran (USMC 68-69) who has traversed from some of the alpha behaviors you mention to a quiet forced quarantine in a rural spot in Maine with a wonderful, empathetic, amazing, registered homeopath and woman who has been my partner of the past 23 years. She unfortunately experienced some of those behaviors while steadfastly believing in me and my efforts to grow beyond them, my own Sita, undeserved, but unreservedly grateful for. The dominators you describe are all too numerous and all too real, but a lot of things have percolated to the surface of our consciousness in this pandemic and it is my fervent hope that options may open to give us different directions for the future. I have witnessed some truly brave and selfless acts combatting this. The alphas, nice and otherwise, are not a true majority and maybe, just maybe, the real majority is getting a wake-up call that will bring the entitled “social policing, virtue-signaling, tribe-forming, scapegoaters” to task. Sita Sings the Blues is something my partner loved when she watched it years ago and something I’ve watched a bunch of times (and shared even more) because it illuminates possibilities to arise from the pain of some humans to a place where, foregoing gender correctness, a spiritual master said mankind can become kind man.

  2. Thank you Ms Paley for your creative expose! If you have not been introduced to Dr Eisler, I recommend the book “The Chalice and the Blade” or any of Raine Eisler’s publications. If anyone is has not been introduced to her works or the Center of Partnership Studies, her research she has analyzed human history to offer a path to gender equity. Until we establish gender equity, humanity will continue to face extinction.

  3. I recently read an anecdote from the best of non-alphas, Fred Rogers. The story behind a scene in that new Tom Hanks movie. Fred was trying to connect with a young child, but the child was doing “alpha” showing of strength with a toy sword. What got the guard down was Fred whispering something to the kid. To quote the article:

    > “Oh, I just knew that whenever you see a little boy carrying something like that, it means that he wants to show people that he’s strong on the outside. I just wanted to let him know that he was strong on the inside, too. And so that’s what I told him. I said, ‘Do you know that you’re strong on the inside, too?’ Maybe it was something he needed to hear.”

    This really struck me because it was the opposite of how most people react to alpha bullying. The standard line is to *emphasize* to *spite* the bully that they are clearly compensating for some deep down inadequacy, doubt, fear etc., i.e. to poke the bully just where it hurts most, take the mask off and reveal their shame.

    But Fred’s approach was to say something more like, “I see you, you want to project strength, you worry that you aren’t enough deep down; but I love you just the way you are, with your fears and anger and everything, and you are okay, even deep down inside.”

    I mean, maybe some people are just sociopaths who abuse because they really have no potential for compassion and they have no deep vulnerability, they are just sociopaths. I don’t know.

    But there are so many dangerous people who really could be reached with sincere love and compassion. None of that denies or diminishes anything you’re saying here about toxic humanity as the reality we live with.

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