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Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Bow doesn't like me to go far. He knows that he's not in any danger of abandonment, but he wants to control my comings and goings. On Monday, which was Labor Day, while Lawrence was watching Bow, I took Sword to the mall, nearly a two hour drive away. Bow knew that we would not be back for lunch.

I had no sooner left the house than Bow chose to pee on the floor in several different locations, clearly not an accident. Lawrence disciplined Bow, cleaned up, and then, after they were reconciled, asked Bow why he did it. Bow spelled: "I don't want Mommy to go far."

He's eight and a half years old. I was back by 3:30 pm. Even though we went farther than our usual range, he was not left alone, and I came back soon, way before dinner time. How do I teach my son self-reliance? How do I get him to pull his fair share? How do I make sure that when I am gone someday, he will be able to care for himself and his dependents?

Many primatologists are out in the field trying to protect chimpanzees from human encroachment. One of the dangers for chimpanzees in the wild are the snares set by the bushmeat traders. Some workers in the field try to help by locating snares and de-activating them. Still, many chimpanzees are maimed by the snares.

One group of chimps is taking care of the problem themselves. See the link here. The chimpanzees of Bossou, Guinea have developed their own method of finding and de-activating the snares. As a result, this group of chimpanzees suffers fewer snare-related injuries. In the fight for survival, my money is on them, rather than the chimps who are waiting for do-gooder humans to take care of this problem for them.

I want Bow to be self-reliant. He needs to understand that the majority of people who are "trying to help" do more harm than good. Everybody's got some kind of axe to grind. One group of "pro-chimpanzee" activists are preaching vegetarianism to their followers, even though chimpanzees are clearly not vegetarian. Almost all "pro-chimp" activists want chimpanzees in sanctuaries, where they will not be allowed to start a family. There is a conflict between human populations in Africa and the chimpanzee populations that are vying for the same territories and the same ecological niche. We have killed all the other hominids. Can we expect anything better for chimpanzees?

If chimpanzees can learn to de-activate snares, couldn't they also learn to do something productive? Would it be so terrible if instead of raiding human gardens, they traded with humans for goods and services? That's what I want for Bow. But the first step in self-reliance has to be taking responsibility for your own actions. I'm still waiting for Bow to show some sign that he's willing to do that.

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