We could all use a few enemies

Most animals in the zoo are bored.


On a recent visit to a safari, I observed a boredom phenomenon in dramatic fashion; That moment led me to this composition. For the record, the safari and zoo experience were fantastic, and the staff were friendly, patient, and knowledgeable. Many of the animals in the enclosed areas in this particular zoo (as is the case in many other zoos) had been rescued from episodes of serious injury or illness in addition to the constant threat of being hunted. The environment and treatment of the animals appeared to be humane and professional.


Yet, in general, when animals (and humans for that matter) are not stimulated or challenged, they tend to exercise lazy habits and lose the motivation to work hard even to access the most basic resources such as food. In one area of the zoo, ostriches were being fed by a staff member; boxes filled with vegetables were suspended on a string from a tree at a height that required the ostriches to stretch their necks to the extent needed to reach the food. The ostriches showed no interest in the boxes filled with food, and instead picked up the scraps that had fallen to the ground and walked away. The staff member lamented that the ostriches would not even attempt to eat from the boxes because they were bored and without enemies, and lacked the desire or need to be creative and strategic about their own survival.


The enemy for each species in the animal kingdom is an "outsider" to that species community. With the knowledge of such a threat comes the constant challenge of those being hunted to protect themselves, and to defend and sharpen their weapons and repellent systems. Animals in enclosed areas are not in their natural habitats, and as a result, they do not live with the threat of the outsider infiltration. Hence, the boredom that I, and maybe even you once witnessed at a zoo.


Adam's wife Eve in the Genesis narrative is known as his helper, an individual who is created to partner with Adam to bring the world to its intended state. In the original title, Eve is not just Adam's helper, she is also his "nemesis" (the phrase in Hebrew ezer k'negdo, literally translates to a helper- opposite him). She is meant to stand opposite her partner to criticize, guide, and direct his activities. She is his friend, but she is also his enemy, and he becomes a greater and broader person because of it.



Fortunately, we do not have to create more human enemies to keep ourselves intellectually stimulated and on our toes; we can simply seek the "outsider" perspectives that surround us in the media, in our social groups, and in the broader society, and open our minds to these positions, for the mere goal of pushing and sharpening our own thinking. Any individual who seeks to maintain confidence in one's held values and system of belief, should not lock themselves inside of an enclosed space, because those spaces engender laziness; rather, when faced with an opposition (as in most sports), we stand to gain a broader, stronger, and more articulate stance.

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