Yet the Wizard of Oz, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, is on a campaign to oppress the animals, to return them all to an unthinking state in servitude to the desires and whims of the humans and more human-like inhabitants of Oz (Munchkins, Winkies, Gillikans, etc.) Elphaba earns the enmity of the wizard, and his campaign against her is what brands her as a wicked witch. She earns his enmity by taking up the cause of all animals, and working for the liberation of all beings.
"We know that people can be induced to buy more cans of soup if you put a “Limit: 12 per customer” sign on the display. We know that if you ask people what movie they want to see next week, they’re likely to mention a classy art film. But, if you ask them what movie they want to see tonight, they’re more likely to mention a mindless blockbuster." (David Brooks, "The Nudge Debate")Even more radical than that, ever since Benjamin Libet’s experiments in the mid-1980s, we have known that the motor signal is headed to the muscle several milliseconds before we become conscious of it. We are already begun in the action before the apparatus of conscious decision-making comes on line. For most of day-to-day life, consciousness isn’t deciding what to do – it’s coming along after the fact and making up a story about how what we’re doing, yeah, that’s what we meant to do. All day long, it’s going: "I meant to do that. Oh, yeah, I meant to do that, too." But the meaning-to-do-it trails the beginning of doing it.
We so love to believe that we are rational – we’re so committed to the story we make up of how we meant to do what we’re doing. We’re afraid of irrationality, and, to some extent, have projected the irrationality we don’t like about ourselves upon other animals, creating that line of separation.
I belong to all of these concentric categories: "middleclass, postindustrial, educated, white guy," "human," "primate," "mammal," "warm-blooded," "vertebrate," "animal." In my quest for self-understanding, I have come to see that it's a mistake to pick out just one of those categories, "human," and put all the emphasis on understanding that category. "What does it mean to be human?" is no more a compelling question than, "What does it mean to be primate?" Or, "What does it mean to be animal?" Or, in the other direction, "What does it mean to be in the socioeconomic class that I'm in?" Self-understanding is a project of appreciating what I have in common with the other beings in all those categories. It is less a matter of knowing what separates humans from other animals and more a matter of understanding what all us animals share.
Everything that is wonderful and everything that is wicked is in every ape heart. And almost everything that is wonderful and wicked -- and a few more things we don't know how to categorize -- is in every mammal heart. Wholeness becomes possible when we don’t separate out the parts we don't like and exile a part of ourselves, but when we let our parts join in a dance with each other. Through the good times and the bad times, too – both our good parts and our bad parts, too: let it be a dance.
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This is part 4 of 4 of "Wicked."
Previous: Part 3: "Moral Judgment and Some Lessons of Evolution"
Beginning: Part 1: "Wonderful Wizards and Wicked Witches"