In an article titled “The Animal-Cruelty Syndrome”, New York Times author Charles Siebert quotes Randall Lockwood, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) senior vice president for forensic sciences and anti-cruelty projects, on what he feels is a positive solution to counter the desire for control and power that often drives abuse against animals and children:
“When you get an 80-pound kid controlling a 1,000-pound horse or a kid teaching a dog to obey you and to do tricks, that’s getting a sense of power and control in a positive way. We all have within us the agents of entropy, especially as kids. It’s easier to delight in knocking things down and blowing stuff up. Watch kids in a park and you see them throw rocks at birds to get a whole cloud of them to scatter. But to lure animals in and teach them to take food from your hand or to obey commands, that’s a slower process. Part of the whole enculturation and socialization process is learning that it’s also cool and empowering to build something. To do something constructive.”
I find this statement from the ASPCA senior vice president deeply disturbing but not surprising. Apparently, when it comes to exercising control and dominion over others, it’s perfectly “positive” for a child to practice this with a horse or a dog, so far as to expect it as common place. Does that mean it’s acceptable for this kind of power-control dynamic between two children, thereby teaching one child to accept his place in submission and “obey” while nurturing the other child to expect to have control and “command” allegiance from another, so long as he follows the rules of being nice and civilized rather than being mean and “cruel”?