The other day, scrolling through the reels on my social media, I dwelt on a very short one which nevertheless caught my attention both because of its content and for the irony with which it expressed it.
The video depicted the scene of a tender raccoon, in an almost seated position, watching TV on the bed next to whoever was filming it.
The caption of the video carried a catchy phrase that, broadly speaking, expressed a concept such as “better a pet raccoon than a partner”.
The scene was very nice, the raccoon seemed to be really excited to share those moments with the human who was filming it and, after all, I could not help but completely agree knowing the love that an animal is able to give.
The downside was the next moment, when my mind disconnected from the present and went back to a few weeks before, when the horrific statements of a man who forgets the value of his words (if not for everyone certainly for many) invaded the web and social media.
Making distinctions, belittling one creature and the kind of love it is able to offer compared to another, as well as reproaching those who choose what kind of love to cultivate and from whom to receive it, are the contents of a discourse that, from someone who is called God’s minister ─ who would speak on behalf of the one who created everything that makes up this world, including creatures other than humans ─, resonate quite inappropriate and out of place.
Even more so if we think that these were pronounced by a pope who chose to call himself Francis, the Holy symbol of love for all divine creatures.
The current pope represents a church where self-determination seems to be the gravest sin a human being can commit, and consequently also being able to choose who and how to love is something that is viewed with immense contempt (and fear).
This should not surprise us after all. We are talking about a cult that over time has condemned homosexual relationships, divorce as a free choice to leave a union that no longer works, and even cohabitation under the same roof without being married (strictly in church). All these gestures, in fact, can be considered fast lane tickets for access to Hell.
Then, it should be pointed out that in the case of the last two points, with the advent of modernity and with the spread of new forms of relationships that provide for living together without religious marriage, allowing separation rather than forcing to live unhappily ever after, the rigid positions have been somewhat revised in order not to lose popularity.
Now, in fact, even the divorced can take the Holy communion and a couple living together can decide to marry later (or never).
Well, so much for consistency!
So, it is no wonder that we have even come to discriminate the love for our pets.
The Church is based on the concept of “sacrifice” (which self-determination would defeat) towards God and towards the other also at the cost of renouncing our space and our well-being to commit ourselves totally to the divine “cause” (at the same time, however, also to the clergy’s benefit).
I do not say this by hearsay, having been a fervent Catholic myself for several years, and still in possession of my spirituality.
The Church has always wanted to break down the concept of the individual to create a uniform mass ready to submit to any adverse circumstance of life, and to welcome suffering as a “game” with increasingly complex levels to overcome in order to come closer to the “eternal blessing”.
In this way for centuries (and in part still today) the Church has been able to exercise all kinds of prevarication, manipulation and deprivation, in order to enrich itself and obtain more and more power over a people that is even grateful for its frustrations.
Parenthood ─ and even more so motherhood ─ are sacrifices that we cannot and must not give up.
Perhaps it is the greatest sacrifice especially for women, who make their bodies totally available for this cause.
Parenthood ─ or rather motherhood ─ was and still is the most fanatical form of sacrifice by the Church.
Motherhood is the major expression of the sick acceptance of “suffering” and of “hardship” as a tax to be paid for the final prize of Paradise, together with the exercise of a tight control over women.
Women’s submission has always been one of the main goals of the Church. Described as inferior and obedient to the male will, women have been the object of the most intense hatred not on the part of God, but of the Institution that hid behind his name.
I return to the main point of my reflection: the relationship between men and animals that so annoys the Pope.
When we talk about animals we often tend to use the word “pet” to indicate the one or those who choose to welcome in the house.
When we talk about people, we use the expression “keep us company”.
When we use this last expression we refer to someone who performs the action of being next to us and to whom we recognize the state of individual, animal or human being.
When instead we use “pet” we are indicating a function, not contemplating the individual, that is considered simply for the advantage brought to us as an object.
The words and any expression that bind them, therefore, are important, and should be used appropriately.
Animals certainly value us also for the function we perform in feeding them, but we are not only that.
They do not possess reason (which has nothing to do with the concept of intelligence), but live based on their instinct.
This makes their feelings, their affection inevitably sincere because they lack any form of reasoning that can lead to their own advantage in the worst sense of the term.
We become part of their pack, and they will demonstrate this attachment and sense of belonging in the most congenial form to their species and personality.
Human relationships, on the contrary, inevitably suffer from the rationality that belongs to mankind and that only in truly extreme cases (often the result of emotional problems of the person) leaves total room for instinct, with almost always disastrous results.
Rationality is a human achievement, be it clear, and we need it to better understand ourselves and what is best for us, even in the context of the relationships we have. But it becomes a big problem when it is influenced by an (unhealthy) individualistic and consumerist context that praises superficiality and the total lack of empathy towards others.
Too often it ends up completely replacing that healthy dose of instinctive emotionality that must be there and that allows us to experience and develop authentic, intense feelings, based on mutual consideration and respect.
In today’s world, interpersonal relationships are too often rationalized, analyzed and evaluated as a simple means to the mere selfish satisfaction of one’s needs.
I will never tire of repeating it, but just look around to see that you just need to download an app to browse (literally) a catalog of people available nearby and select the one we prefer, hoping to be their choice from that same catalog.
We are the generation of profiles full of smiling and happy couple photos but which often constitute the facade of unsatisfactory and immature relationships that shatter at the first futile problem.
It doesn’t take much to empty the Instagram board and delete the videos on TikTok where we proudly showed everyone our wonderful love story, just finished, to immediately make room for a new love, who immediately becomes our soulmate.
Whether it’s because he can’t take you out on Saturdays as he is working, or because you don’t want to spend the weekend hiking, or because one wants sushi while the other prefers pizza, you question a relationship for such futile reasons.
We are the generation that exploits others and ends up being exploited.
I’m not so pessimistic as to think that the world totally works like this, there are people who hold that healthy dose of emotionality together with the right dose of rationality, I really believe that, but it is also certain that they constitute a small part of the humankind that surrounds us.
Animals cannot replace human interactions, they themselves need interactions with their own species as well as with us, but when you take care of them they are able to give you all the potential for affection and love that they possess and they do so spontaneously without any end.
Human beings suffer too much from the dominant values of the time in which they live, often ending up offering a love rationally influenced by selfishness and a total lack of consideration for the other, who as soon as it does not meet expectations is discarded as any defective object and immediately replaced.
We no longer “look” at ourselves and for this reason we no longer exist.
We no longer consider each other for that uniqueness that we all possess and that makes us wonderfully different.
We reduce ourselves to being all the same or almost the same products, evaluated according to the specific needs to be addressed, positioned on the shelf of the “social relations” department.
The love that animals offer us cannot replace the human one, but it is certainly a type of love that all of us should know in life and, at the same time, the only one we can totally feel sure about today, unlike the human one that is increasingly difficult to find in a healthy and balanced form, devoid of superficiality and objectification of the other.
In life, it is definitely better to have a pet that keeps us company rather than being us just a company to others.
I would therefore ask Pope Francis to reflect on the senselessness of his words in the face of an obvious truth.
I would ask him to re-evaluate his positions, but above all not to impose in the name of God words and thoughts that come only from a Church where the divine has given way to the human for too long.
To all my other fellow humans I sincerely wish to experience the unconditional love of an animal, without however substituting it for the human one (when healthy), in the form that they feel more comfortable with.
Whether it is a child, a partner, a friend, I wish them not to be conditioned by any social convention or opinion of others, but that they can make a free and conscious choice.
I wish all of us the strength and the ability to recognize this healthy love, among all its poor imitations that surround us and try to confuse us, but which we must learn to renounce.
Martina Bruno, moderator of the closed Lunadigas group