Daddy Philosophy: Aging Alphas

People often attempt, for religious reasons, to intentionally disregard the indisputable scientific fact that humans are just another species of simian. Homo Sapiens are really just one of the handful of flavours of land-ape, so obviously we could probably stand to learn quite a bit about human nature through the study of the societal structure of ape communities.

The great-ape family of species isn’t particularly diverse. You’ve got Gorillas, Orangutans, Chimpanzees and Bonobos, and us Humans.  All ape societies are structured around the alpha-male of the pack. Though there also seems to consistently be a place for an alpha-female, often judged by their proximity to the alpha-male, rather than by their own merits. Differing ape species however, handle the issue of alpha-males who have reached the end of their viable domination of the community, differently…

In Gorilla communities, the largest and most powerful of all apes, it is a polygamist, patriarchal society.  The one alpha gorilla having dominion over a mass of females. The alpha rules only so far as he can defend his position against the challenges of all the other males; the betas and deposed alpha-males wander off into the jungle to eek out the remainder of their existence in solitude, much scarred from their struggles. There is a quiet dignity in such an order of things…

In Chimpanzee communities however, the lesser males are tolerated and welcomed back into the community, only so far as they show the appropriate deference to the alpha-male and don’t openly try to poach females. Of course this naturally leads to larger and more mutually beneficial communities compared to the isolationist Gorilla model, but inevitably alliances of  beta-males are forged leading to conspiracies in more tolerant chimp culture…

Humans don’t really adhere to any of these models, at least overtly. Alpha-males need to suppress their tendencies to dominate their inferiors, and keeping a harem is generally frowned upon by our advanced ethics. Yet the basis of this alpha-male-centric societal structure is inherent on an instinctual level. Just as I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that while I might be currently in my prime, the next generation is forever lurking in the background waiting to take their own place, I too, have had to unseat the older generation. No one can ever be the alpha in perpetuity, my time too, is rapidly approaching, but when it comes I will probably opt for the solitude in the jungle of the gorilla rather than the sycophantic obeisance of the chimpanzee, but make no mistake, you have to choose one eventually…




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