Sage Advice 107: Lions And Sloths And Linguistic Associations! Oh My!

We human folk often try to find our understanding of attributes and traits in nature. If we have the concept of strength in our word-bank, we look into the natural world to find a example of it (for quite some time I believe the ox has been associated to strength, a branding that certainly begs for a modern update).

People do this with just about every descriptor available. It’s not just enough to have an understanding of an adjective in the human world; a certain kind of validation is felt when the word is connected to an aspect of nature.

You can see it all over our culture and language. We’re drawn to how we can connect ideas to nature, making the understanding of humanity outside of the human experience. The problem with this word-association tendency is how often people can get it so dreadfully wrong.

We’ve already mentioned the Ox. However, this is not a great example as the Ox is quite a strong animal—though certainly not the strongest. The intention is correct, but the degree is off by a smidge.

Let’s consider the lion instead.

Think about a lion. Specifically a male lion. Mane and all. Do you have that image in your head? What does it bring to mind? How would you describe it? There’s a good chance that you’re thinking about courage, pride, or honor—traits of an ideal king. Here’s the problem with that association: male lions are lazy, incompetent child-eating rapists. That’s not a statement of hyperbole. Male lions really do eat their cubs. It’s called infanticide and it proves that male lions are completely shitty in every way.

How does your childhood feel right now?

As if eating babies wasn’t enough, male lions continue to show how antithetical they are to the human attributes tied to them by being the laziest members of their pride. The female picks up the heavy lifting when it comes to hunting and surviving. Lionesses hunt, give birth, and provide for their insane, child-devouring husbands all the time. How does the male lion return the favor? By raping the shit out of the lioness whenever he feels like it.

A human who eats babies, rapes, and refuses to get a productive job or hobby isn’t considered a shining example of pride, courage, and honor. In fact, that human is usually confined in a padded room until society figures out a humane way to dispose of something truly inhumane. There is one positive note to the male lion getting these human words: they are words falsely connected to kingship. Turns out real lions have a lot in common with real kings; they both love to do nothing all day until it’s time to rape and eat babies.

History tends to forget about all the babies Henry VIII ate

Occasionally people get the whole word-animal-association game wrong in the opposite manner, giving a perfectly delightful animal a terrible reputation. The sloth is a shining example of such a farce. Sloths have had the misfortune of having an absolutely terrible and undeserved word attached to their existence.

For those of you who have never seen Se7en, allow me to explain what it means for something to be slothful. You know when you wake up in the morning and all you want to do is eat and then sleep some more and maybe eat a little bit more and not think about anything but the blissful pleasure-train you just created with a mountain of food and decadence? Imagine being that all the time and you get an idea as to what it means to be slothful.

Only cuteness is in the box… and some lady’s head, but mostly cuteness

Sloths, the animal not the lazy and shitty humans from which they are named, receive this name because of their incredibly slow pace. Sloths don’t move much, if at all, through their day-to-day. They spend most of their time hanging from trees, surely contemplating the sloth life-experience.

That may seem slothful, but really consider what they’re doing: hanging upside-down from a tree all day long. All day. And many sloths carry their offspring along with them. Essentially, baby sloths use their parents as branches as their parents hang from actual branches. What’s slothful about that?

Absolutely nothing

Go to your Facebook page. Go find the first person on your feed who is sharing tragically boring photos of their ugly children. How long do you think those over-sharing cunts can hang from a tree while their bastard babies grip their ribcages all day? I’d give the egg-headed jerks two minutes—tops—before they fall to the ground and get raped and eaten by a male lion.

Sloths aren’t slothful. There’s nothing slothful about being able to cling to a tree for survival day in and day out. Lions aren’t courageous.  There’s nothing courageous about eating children. We’re always going to channel our experiences through a medium that doesn’t experience or understand our experiences, but I think it’s about time we start putting a little more thought into our future—and past—cultural synapses.

-Matthew Fugere

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