War and Harmony

Peace and balance are human fictions absent in nature.

A contest of social dominance between cows as they head-but each other ends in licking.

A contest of social dominance between cows as they headbutt each other, ends in licking.

Cow watching is an interesting pursuit of mine, part of my ongoing interest in watching how people and animal behave.  Most people are aware cows eat grass, but they fail to pay attention to a cow long enough to learn what fascinating creatures cows are.  I can learn a lot about the group dynamic of cows, which is applicable to humanity.  I watch for the patterns, and I get a buzz from discovering a new cow pattern.  One way of learning about cows is to interact with them, by talking to them, this grabs their interest and encourages new patterns to emerge.

Whilst talking to a cow, one that I note seems to hold back from the rest of the herd, I observed new pattern variations as the entire herd slowly moved through my part of the field on its regular journey around the boundaries of the field.  The first pattern was a galloping-leaping cow, one that was playful and happy.

I captured two cows in this article photographs in a headbutting contest, that ended in one licking the other cow. A herd of cows are a complex social dynamic with its own social hierarchy from alpha to omega cows.  The overall harmony of the cow herd is the result of strife as cows contest their rank in the group through trials of strength.  I observe how cows work individually, or pair off into their friendships, the overall prosperity of the herd results from the constant testing of positions through strife, each cow knows its place in the group creates an overall group harmony.

I omit the word “peace” from the title of this blog post, which like the word “balance” is better replaced with the word “harmony” for this reflects the true face of nature.  Peace and balance are final states that results in stagnation and death.  Perfect balance and peace means nothing moves or changes, only strife and unequal positions results in growth, change and motion.  Heraclitus says in fragment 112:

“Joints are at once a unitary whole and not a unitary whole.

To be in agreement is to differ, the concord-ant is thediscord-ant.

From many things comes oneness, and out of oneness come the many things.”

At least two bones and muscles make up the arm joint, which act in strife against each other, put paradoxically their strife results in a greater complexity and overall harmony of purpose.  Imagine if two arm joint bones are at peace with each other, acting in balance in one direction, the resulting arm joint would be useless.

Heraclitus in fragment 108 says:

“The way up and the way down are one and the same.”

Two opposites are the same thing, a man and woman are opposites, opposing genders, but together they create a whole, a complexity out of which children are born.

Heraclitus in fragment 26 says:

“It should be understood that war is the common condition, that strife is justice, and that all things come to pass through the compulsion of strife.”

Children are born because two opposites of gender are acting against each other to form a greater whole. The arm joint exists because two bones-muscles act against each other to form a greater whole. The herd of cows exist as a group dynamic through the strife existing between individual cows.

Peace and balance are illusions, only harmony exists, harmony through the strife of opposites.


8 responses to “War and Harmony

  1. Another fascinating post, Alex

    • Thanks, this is one of those arguments that many people fail to understand, but if they do understand it, they will open a new world of insights and possibilities.

  2. Interesting, I didn’t know about this behaviour.

  3. I, too, love cows. Unfortunately, I don’t get to observe them much but I have found them to be very interesting creatures! thanks for sharing your observations.

    • You are welcome. There are three herds of cattle in Cymbeline Meadows in Colchester. People have to go through a cow field to follow a public footpath which is where they have to be careful as cows can be dangerous if they feel threatened.

  4. When my boys were younger we would walk past a farm, the bulls were on one side of the road in a pasture, the females on the other. My boys even as young as 2 noticed the differences between the genders. The males were aggressive and did not like our attention. The females would saunter to the fencing to interact. The personality of one cow in particular gave my son the biggest lesson of his life about animals. It would imitate every thing he did. He would lay on the ground, making faces, sticking his tongue out. This one cow would lower her head to his level and stick her tongue out when he did, she would tip her head to mirror how he turned his head, etc. Each afternoon we would visit, and this cow would join us to visit. As we would get ready to leave, my son would tell her goodbye, she would lick his face as if she understood then saunter back to the rest of the herd. He never forgot that, and realized from that moment that all animals have deep feelings and unique personalities. It formed how he treats nature.

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