Man — The Most Loyal of All Earth’s Creatures

11 min readAug 31, 2023

An image of loyalty comes from an 1898 painting of a dog listening to a phonograph. Today, the loyalty of a dog is touted as an example for man to emulate.

But how loyal is man? Why is man considered to be untrustworthy?

His Master’s Voice by Francis Barraud

But how loyal is man? Why is man considered to be untrustworthy?

It seems we are living in an age of distrust, constantly finding less and less of loyalty wherever we seek it. Gaining loyalty used to be effortless, but now demands constant effort, the offering of many rewards, and the use of fear, threats, force, and trickery.

But to use the image of the dog to inspire loyalty, means we cannot see the truth: on this planet no creature exhibits as much loyalty as man.

A dog’s loyalty is builtin, and is visibly loyal to a master instinctively, almost without choice. But it is nowhere close to the loyalty exhibited by man, an amazingly directable loyalty that allows the human to achieve the most fantastic of pinnacles by any species.

Loyalty To a Person or To a Story?

We extol acts of obedience and lives of fealty and these stories are used to inculcate values of loyalty in the citizenry. At the same time, we regale in stories about betrayals and defections, traitors and usurpers — it seems that interesting events and major shifts in our history have been created by acts of disloyalty. Today, we believe in a dog-eat-dog (a different dog metaphor) world where nobody expects loyalty: we sense that our employers will dump us as they see fit, and employees are expected to jump ship at the moment a better offer appears.

But that is missing the forest for the tree. We almost never exhibit loyalty to a person. The human has always exhibited loyalty to a story. Our nature to pursue a story thru life to death, makes our species absolutely unique. We can see a dog fiercely protecting his master’s property. Can we see that happening lovingly? It is possible for man to do this. Is it possible for a dog to protect an imaginary master using an image? This is certain for man.

Imagine the difficulty to convince an ape to give up a banana for a banana tree in their next life. Humans can easily be convinced of this. They can be even convinced to do more inconceivable acts: become loyal to a concept, even one that has no proof. If an imaginary fruit is portrayed as far more tastier than the real fruits around them, then, even without tasting it, people can be made to stop enjoying their apples and pineapples. The ‘devout loyal’ can even be egged on to destroy their apple orchards. And, the ‘fanatically loyal’ can be incited to scornfully attack those who still like fruits ending with the letters ‘ple’.

When a story has the power to attract loyalty, we call it a myth.

The Power Of Myth

A myth includes a grand narrative that empowers us to believe that we can and must accomplish something, even the unimaginable. Historically it has been much more: thru myth we made a connection to the source. And somehow, received the power to accomplish the unimaginable. Different mythologies have ignited fires successfully driving civilizations to heights unscalable by an animal. Our history is a mosaic of superhuman responses to quests that we received, and into which we happily poured our hearts, our lives. The results have been voyages, temples, pyramids, medicines, and crusades. Results that are completely inexplicable thru just our physical, raw capacity. Results that set us apart from all other life on this planet.

The human only exists with a myth. We usually inherit a set of myths at birth: our religion, our country, our society, our family. And most people loyally, maybe blindly, follow this set our lives. Even if they have lost their meaning, lost their power.

Some, unhappy with their current myths, go out to find something new, more meaningful — we call them ‘Seekers’.

Those who explain existing myths and create new relevant stories for them, evolving them, even possibly regenerating their power become ‘Saints’.

And, some have the ability to create new myths — we elevate to ‘godlike’.

Let there be no question: just as in the past, we are living a life of loyalty to myth today.

Multiple Loyalties Held With A Large Ego

Before discussing today’s myth, we have to explore a fantastic human capacity. We humans are unique in the ability to hold multiple, diverse loyalties by compartmentalizing our beliefs. Our ability to structure time allow us to simultaneously plead allegiance to a religion, a country, a company, a family, and a sports team. Each loyalty requires us to compartmentalize: to ignore contradictions inside a space. Structuring time helps overcome contradictions between our loyalties.

A massively inflatable ego helps strive towards the impossible, but also makes it hard to admit being wrong and humbly start again on a new path.

Today’s Myth and Its Drawbacks

The primary myth that forms the backbone of our western-based civilization is: we are a random creation on a random planet. There are no higher powers, nothing is divine. The myth extols that the human is a selfish being. And continues on, stating that we have inherently evil tendencies, and are fundamentally violent. It ends with technology providing all the solutions, and when it cannot, man is doomed to die.

The problem is that this story actually encourages disloyal, destructive behaviour. Since we supposed to be primarily selfish, we should not exhibit loyalty. We should care only about our immediate satisfaction, and should ignore longterm happiness, especially any longterm societal happiness. The race to consume elevates the power of money over all other considerations, allowing money to become a destination, not remain just a tool. Disloyal, selfish, ignorant, behaviour is expected of us … no wonder we are confused — disloyalty turns out to be loyalty!

The evilization of the human erodes the presence of humanity in all, we are now trained to see evil in the other first, before we see their heart. This drawback with the myth also allows the most violent technologies (not just physical, but psychological, and even spiritual) to be developed and deployed. As normal.

The real drawback with today’s story is that our weaknesses have been exposed. And they are being massively exploited for power, control, and profit.

A primary characteristic, our need to have a story, is exploited as old stories are discredited leaving us weak and confused, grabbing the new storyless story — a bad myth is better than no myth.

Another weakness is that we prefer a story than talk from a live person. Live myth-creators find a few followers, but for several reasons (too many to discuss here), myths from dead people gain unimaginable traction. As evinced by the organized religions, a book frozen in time can wield far more power than the founder had when alive. And the frozen word, even if interpreted differently by different factions, is used ruthlessly, in complete hypocrisy with the love that people with direct contact had felt. Similarly, frozen constitutions and legal processes can create and enforce deep obedience, not seen at the debates during their creation.

During transition times, in between stories, we need constant guidance, good gurus. Most of humanity need the herd to move first. Earlier myths were dynamic, they did evolve and invite new ideas. Unlike what we have been taught, knowledge and myth can and does spread peacefully, such as when Hinduism and Buddhism from India spread throughout Asia and adapted to the local culture.

Today’s storyless myth denies any new stories, making it much harder for a shift. That means we remain loyal to our myth, loyal to the most grievous end. Even when it is in tatters, completely hollow, proven unhealthy, even if it is wrong. Domestic violence is tolerated because of loyalty to institutions like marriage and family values. Jobs are held despite being stressful and unhealthy. People live in and cause unhealthy, polluted, depleting spaces because they cling to an imaginary, idealized view. We see enormously destructive behaviour, total hypocrisy, contrary to every letter of the ‘written’ myth — only blind loyalty can generate that. We see people remaining loyal to sports teams that drain their tax dollars, to their party despite empty promises, to their country despite increasing oppressiveness, to their religion despite exploitation and hypocrisy, … Our loyalty to today’s myth is exhibited so strongly, that we will court extinction — our immense intelligence allows us to commit collective suicide by creating the Sixth Great Extinction — rather than shift our allegiance.

And our institutions today exploit our weaknesses in many, and most innovative, ways.

The most powerful of all is the crystallization of time. We have gone from a place where we had an abundance of time to a space with acute scarcity of time. By changing the operation of time from human scale to machine scale in the Industrial Revolution to computer scale in the Information Revolution, time has been sucked out of people’s lives, so they can never study their myth, discuss it, question it. There is not even time to study themselves in a mirror.

Another way we are exploited is thru the strengthening of our egos. With our connections to each other becoming virtual, they can be manipulated. Physical connections require paying attention to human nature and its diversity; we just have to live with our neighbours and our community. Our virtual connections can not only be selected narrowly, but the conversations can also be restricted. We can easily see the apparent loyalty (and disloyalty) of others, but it is hard to see our own allegiance and its blindness. We live in echo chambers, impossible to exit because of the network and our super-charged egos — we can never believe ourselves to be wrong. And wrong for so long.

While our myth is storyless — we (and the universe) are just random creations — there are certain stories, concepts, that we have to believe in, to have a shared, common understanding of. And since the herd follows a few leaders (even virtual or media-generated), concepts like progress and development can be applied arbitrarily as a type of blind loyalty can be enforced.

Our dependence on the system for livelihood, and other rewards — success, wealth, power, challenge — that we are addicted to, allows our negative emotions — anger, hate, envy, jealousy, revenge, greed, lust, and even sorrow — to be exploited, enhanced, or to be twisted, even to undermine others, to sabotage. Earlier myths tried to reduce our negative tendencies and steer us towards the positive.

Today’s myth suppresses and oppresses, it does not liberate and elevate. And it has convinced its loyal followers that this has been true all throughout time (‘selfishness and greed are human nature, while altruism is a selfish act and spirituality is a placebo’). The reality is that earlier myths tried to elevate the human, capable of love, peace, and harmony — they made the human a divine creation. And tried to take humanity towards divinity.

In today’s story, man is a random, accidental evolution from an ape, a theory which, even before being scientifically proven, has made us withdraw our loyalty from old myths (calling them superstitions) and plead complete allegiance to today’s myth by constantly using the word ‘evolution’ without the word ‘theory’.

The Challenge

Humanity faces many inter-related man-made crises: poverty, inequity, climate change, biodiversity reduction, species extinction, topsoil loss, freshwater reduction, plastic waste, air pollution, water contamination, forest cover depletion, war, … The commonly used phrases: planetary overshoot and planetary collapse, beg for a major shift in our trajectory. But our loyalty to existing institutions and their myths prevent us from feeling the crises, so we can never act. While acknowledging our problems, leaders say that it is not possible, not necessary, to change direction in our lifetimes, and instead we speed along the same paths that caused the problems in the first place.

Meanwhile, the myth of a human as a selfish one-dimensional being is wearing thin. The human is endowed with so much talent, and so much spirit, it is hard to suppress it forever, to channel it forever into a shopping mall, even with the most powerful of imagery on the largest number of screens.

We use therapy, coaching, drugs, … all to handle this suppression. We seek mindfulness techniques from Buddhism, to help deal with the problem of going forward into a bleak future. But they do not make us resist, to rise against the oppression.

Today’s challenge is to shift our loyalty. From a power that uses fear, addiction, and dependence to a another myth that has not emerged.

A new myth whose whispers are not audible in the loud noise.

A Path Forward

One of our great sages, Sri Aurobindo, advised us to “Break the moulds of the past” for a future, a better future. One of our great scientists, Albert Einstein, stated: We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. They both were not telling us to destroy the past, but to change our mindset for any real progress. To change our thinking, to break the mould, really means that first we have to withdraw our loyalty to our current stories. It is only by breaking our existing ties that allows new ideas to emanate and for us to hear them.

But our task today is, as difficult as it is, not just to break our loyalty to the new storyless myth.

For our sanity, we have maintained some old stories. Myths in all regions allowed man to scale amazing heights: the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Indians, Greeks, Mayans, Chinese, and all the Indigenous peoples … But while those connections to the divine have been lost, we still keep the myths alive thru some rituals. Though the rituals no longer seem to have power to awaken the forms that existed. So we also have to break loyalty to the old, ineffective myths that we still carry.

We need to have faith in the human capacity to re-connect with higher powers. To re-receive higher knowledge as fresh fruit. And in our creativity to generate new stories. And in the human heart to overcome the current spell that man is violent and evil. Enough to surrender to the universe. We need to give ourselves permission to pass thru a time of transition, where we gently, but fully, let go of the past and allow new buds to emerge, and new myths to grow. The new stories may contain elements of the old stories, which is fine as long as they were grown from seed in today’s soil.

Only then will we be able to align ourselves to today’s reality without compromise or contradiction. And let new stories emerge that resonate fully within us and help us walk a local path that not just addresses, but actually solves today’s problems. A regenerative path. A feminine, nurturing one.

As we walk on new paths our loyalty to them will grow and collectively we will start a new era. Where our humanity takes man and the planet into regeneration before the extinction — to rivers north of the future.