Earlier this year, I wrote an article in which I used animals as a foil against which I highlighted man’s good and bad social behavior. I knew at the time that while this would be my first foray into the broader Animal Kingdom to compare and contrast behavioral patterns of men, it would not be my last. And so, dear reader and brother, I have returned to the wild for another examination. This time around, we will examine wolves.
Wolves are much like men “in their use of hierarchy, teamwork, cooperation, territory, ritual, and loyalty.”
The above statement is no less true just because it is a quote from a fictional character in a novel. Wolves establish a hierarchy, cooperate and work as part of a team, are territorial, have established rituals, and are loyal to their group. Men are the same, that is; men should be the same.
Let us unpack each of the quoted attributes and examine them in turn.
Wolves live in an established hierarchy. In every pack, no matter the size, there is a leader and there are followers. Only the best wolf – strongest, smartest, wiliest, craftiest, and fiercest – can lead. As young wolves learn the ways of the pack and learn to be good followers, they grow and mature. Eventually, they rise to challenge the leader. Until that time, they follow. When a wolf is strong enough to challenge the leader for the position of “alpha,” the leader must defend himself and his position. If the old leader is defeated, he is replaced by a younger, stronger wolf. In this way, only the best rise to leadership positions. The nature of the pack is such that it follows its leader.
Men should organize in a similar fashion. They should spend their youths learning from their elders and their leaders. Through this process and the accumulation of their experiences, they will grow and mature, much like a young wolf. Until a man is ready to challenge for a leadership position, he must learn to be a good man and be a good follower. Once he attains a leadership position, he must strive to maintain it, not only for the good of his “pack,” but also for his own good. He must not rest on his laurels. He must fight and strive to be better – a better man and a better leader. In this way, he will ensure that his pack gets the best out of him.
Wolves work as a team. They form a pack, and within that pack, they work together. They collaborate for the survival of the pack. To go it alone is to die. They live together, they hunt together, and if their pack grows too big, it splits and each forms a smaller pack which goes its own way. This is the way of the pack. Teamwork is its strength. Without teamwork, individual wolves would fall victim to other predators. With teamwork, the individual wolves are greater than the sum of their number; and through organization and hierarchy, they work together under their leader toward a common goal: the survival of the pack and its species.
Men should work together in the same way. We should organize as a group with a hierarchy, and collaborate to strengthen that group. As individuals, men are vulnerable, able to be picked off one by one. As part of a team and through teamwork, the strength of the individual man is magnified by the strength and unity of his brothers. If the group becomes too big or unwieldy, it should split and reorganized under new leaders. But in all cases, the group should use teamwork to achieve its goals: the survival of its people.
Wolves cooperate with each other in many ways. They hunt as a team, they migrate as a group, and they protect the pack through unity. Cooperation is a much deeper concept than mere teamwork. On the one hand, wolves use teamwork to work together on specific tasks. These can include a hunt or setting up a den. On the other hand, they cooperate with each other for grander endeavors, such migration or mass movement, or even establishing the hierarchy of a pack.
This concept is similar for men, as well. Two men can use teamwork to accomplish simple tasks such as making automotive or home repairs. A larger group of men, however, must cooperate for a more complex activity such as organizing, or community outreach. In this way teamwork and cooperation serve different purposes for both wolves and men. Men should not focus on one to the detriment of the other, for they both hold important roles; individually, and collectively.
Wolves, like most predatory animals, are territorial. The size of the pack and nature of its “alpha” will largely determine the size of its territory. Within its bounds, the pack is responsible for everything. It protects its territory against unwary interlopers or intrusive competitors. The pack can allow no incursion to go unchallenged. To do so is to forfeit its sovereignty over what it considers its territory. If the pack cedes territory, its livelihood is threatened and the position of its leader is in question.
Men should be the same way. As they are individually responsible for themselves and their families, they are also collectively responsible for their territory. This can consist simply of a vehicle or home, or include a large plot of land or airspace. If a group of men are organized and cooperate enough to possess a larger territory, then they must be as wolves and protect what is theirs to the best of their ability. To fail to stand against threats to person or property, is to cede personal and collective sovereignty to outsiders or others who would take what is rightfully yours. Men must defend their people and territory, for without both; there is no life, only mere existence.
Wolves have rituals, believe it or not. The hunt is a ritualistic endeavor that serves two purposes. It provides sustenance for the pack, and serves as a vehicle for a wolf to prove his worth. When younger wolves challenge their elders for leadership of the pack, it is not done in some free-for-all manner. There is a ritual, all members of the pack know and understand this. Rituals are important for both the wolf and the pack. They form part of the essence of what it means to be a wolf, and a member of the pack. They are a necessity, for without ritual; a pack is a mere mob.
Rituals are as vital to a group of men as is its hierarchy. They provide meaning to significant events such as accepting new members, and elevating them to higher ranks. They also provide outlets for artistic, philosophical, and religious expression. For men formed in a group, rituals are the glue that cements them as individual bricks in a defensive wall. Without the glue of ritual, the individual bricks would collapse under any outside force. Rituals are the gateway to unity, and with unity comes strength and honor.
Wolves are fiercely loyal, both to each other, and to the pack. They do everything together. They hunt together. They migrate together. They protect their territory against outsiders together. They follow their alpha leaders together. They are a true collective, working together towards common goals. This cannot be done without loyalty. Loyalty is the means by which the pack stays together and survives. Disloyal wolves are banished, for it is better to have a smaller but loyal pack, than to have a large pack eroding from disloyal wolves.
Disloyal men are not worthy of group membership. History is replete with examples of great civilizations, empires, and kingdoms falling not due to outsider threat but rather to insider treachery. No group can tolerate such heinous activity. Loyalty must be given and expected, by leaders and followers alike. Disagreement is not disloyalty if it fosters improvement and prolongs survival. Men must demonstrate loyalty to themselves and each other in their actions. Words alone are nothing but useless mouth noises. A man’s true loyalty can be easily seen in his actions and his achievements.
All six of these attributes are equally applicable to wolves and to men. We would be wise to remember that each and every day. To neglect the lessons of our past, and ignore the codes of conduct and honor by which we all must live, is to invite disaster for ourselves as individual men, our groups, and our people. We deserve better. We must be better.
Men, be the wolf. Respect our leaders and give them your loyalty. We have our “alpha” for a reason. Follow him with strength and honor… to victory.