Pig

For someone who is acting in an uncivilised or unpleasant manner, we often say they are acting like an animal or, worse, a dog or a pig. What we mean is that he or she isn't following the social rules or norms, and is ignoring the learned ways of behaving, to the detriment of others.

The implication is that animals are not socialised or civilised. Worse, that they are not capable of being socialised, and to lose our 'mask' of civilisation is to slip down the natural order of things and to become like our inferiors—the animals.

But, when you look at the way in which animals behave, it is they who are civilised. They always follow the social rules of their species, no matter how rudimentary, and are thoroughly schooled in the way of the society in which they find themselves. I am not just thinking of dogs, but all pack animals, from the ant to the lion, and whether they live in the sea, fly in the sky or walk on the land. If a species coalesces into groups, it has a social structure, and all the animals within it are taught how to follow its rules.


When you look at the way in which animals behave, it is they who are civilised.


So, to be civilised, to follow the social rules, is the norm in nature. It is the natural thing to do. It is to be like a pig or a dog. In fact, it is a complement to say you are like an animal, as it means you instinctively follow the rules, do the right thing and respect others around you.

It is humans that are uniquely able to be savage and uncivilised. It is us only who do not follow the rules, who ignore the needs of others and show no respect. It is us who brutalise wantonly, who kill indiscriminately, who maim and destroy to no greater purpose and who try to make a virtue of selfishness and greed. It is us, the humans, who do not want to live in harmony and, rather than seek a balance with our neighbours and fellow creatures, seek to destroy and erase all other competitors for resources.

In fact, to call someone a human in respect of their behaviour is something of an insult. If you mean to remark on how I am civilised and show respect towards others, I'd rather be called a pig any time.
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