Contrary to popular belief, the wolf is not the bloodthirsty creature it is made out to be. On the contrary, it is, in my opinion, a nature guide, an instructor, unjustly defamed and misunderstood.
Thanks to the work of Konrad Lorenz, our perception of the wolf has changed. We have discovered an animal with highly complex social behavior that lives in packs.
The man who could speak with mammals, birds, and fish… (1)
Konrad Lorenz, an Austrian psychiatrist (1903-1989), is the founding father of ethology. He dedicated a significant part of his life to studying animal behavior, particularly their social behavior in their natural habitats. As a psychiatrist, his observation of human beings during the tragic war years was also instructive through dramatic comparison. His ethological research on various animal species, including wolves, remains the primary reference in the field to this day.
According to Konrad Lorenz, « ethologists must exercise caution in making ethical judgments about animal behavior. » However, I will dare to offer a sentiment-infused judgment: it is moving and admirable to see that the wolf does not want to bite, but even more so to witness others trusting in this inhibition. An animal entrusts its life to the chivalrous virtue of another!
Humanity should take note. Personally, I have gained a deeper understanding of a beautiful yet often overlooked passage from the gospel, which used to provoke contradictory feelings in me: « If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. » A wolf has taught me that it is not to invite further strikes from your enemy that you should turn the other cheek, but to make it impossible for them to do so!
When a young wolf cub encounters an adult wolf, it instinctively rolls onto its back and exposes its vulnerable belly; a few drops of urine guarantee its young age by scent.
Among fighting adult wolves, a technique allows the loser to stop the aggression of the victor. It simply involves adopting the submissive posture of the young cub by lying on their back and exposing their throat.
The attacker then symbolically goes through the motion of shaking the other to death, discharging their aggression and solidifying their reputation as the winner while sparing their victim.
In summary, we often show less mercy than wolves, who follow their instincts. Humans, who rely more on their intellect than instinct, tend to persistently torment the vanquished—an ironic paradox! I’m not saying we should become savage; I simply believe that a small return to the visceral core of our being is sometimes essential. We can learn more wisdom by observing animals than from most books of wisdom.
Sandrine Devienne for Le Klan du Loup
(1) Reference to the title of one of his most famous works.
Artificial intelligence translation of an original text by Sandrine Devienne.
Click here to read the French version