The ‘twins’ are driving me crazy! I’m so used to cats falling in love with me that I’m flummoxed by the efforts needed to become a member of their clan. Although they are individuals—Viola is more outgoing and sillier, Sebastian is shyer, but when I do manage to pet him he dissolves into a purring machine—they often operate as a collective. I see her looking at him and asking “what do we do next?” I see him relying on her to nudge me toward the kitchen in the morning.
They wrestle. They play tag. They jump. They edge each other away from the food bowls. And yes, they wash each other’s faces after dinner… They act as a collective, so in my mind they are ‘the kittens’ or ‘the twins’ and not my two, new, cat companions. My goal right now is to be accepted as some kind of giant, furless, opposable thumbed buddy. Love will follow that.
In the meantime, their collective consciousness is inspiring me to ponder the power of a collective mind. People aren’t bees—or even kittens from the same litter—but we, as a species, have been known to become overwhelmed by group-think, losing our independent thought processes to a single-minded/multi-person entity, almost like the Borg of Star Trek.
We can, and do, get caught up in the momentum of a mob, doing things as part of a group that we would never do alone. This can be as ordinary as a usually well-behaved teenager egging a house on Halloween, “because everybody was doing it.” Or it can be as dangerous and violent as lynching, looting, gang rapes, and Kristallnacht.
When asked about their aberrant behavior after a violent incident, people will often state that they were “caught up in the moment” or that they weren’t thinking clearly. That may be true, but as humans we are still responsible for our actions. Choices made under duress are often bad choices that lead us to “go with the flow” even if it is flowing in a dangerous direction. Still there’s that classic motherly advice that starts with the phrase, “If everyone else were jumping off the cliff…”
But getting back to my current quandary. How can I join this feline collective? And why do I want to join it? Maybe I’ll get a cat story out of it? Maybe, I’ll just have them purring all the time?