After my wolf-spotting weekend in Yellowstone Park, I pondered the following question. Do wolves have gumption or Gumption?
The answer is Yes and No to both.
Traditional gumption is defined as:
- Sound practical judgment;
- Fortitude and determination.
Gumption (capital G, italicized Gump) is defined as:
- Mindset – Your thinking;
- Moxie – Your acting (or actions or getting things done);
- Graciousness – You interacting with others.
So wolves are mostly Yes on numbers 2 & 3 for both traditional gumption and Gumption.
But they are a No for number 1 on both accounts.
Let me explain.
Humans have the ability to think, to reason, and to analyze a situation. Humans can consider alternative choices and make decisions based on logic and sound practical judgment.
Animals function primarily on instinct or innate behavior. Sure, I know that your dog is super-smart and has learned how to fetch the newspaper, but for the most part, animals are all one-trick ponies (or maybe two in the case of your super-smart dog).
Of course, the argument could be made that the wolf does use its innate behavior to make sound practical judgments, and displays common sense, and is clever and shrewd in its behaviors … but that really is a compliment to its behavior and not its ability to think.
Interestingly, animals’ (and wolves’) innate behavior makes them excellent when it comes to their fortitude and determination in getting things done. Their actions are relentless. Have you ever seen a pack of wolves chasing after an elk? They hunt fearlessly.
Humans, on the other hand, let their unique ability to think get in the way of getting things done. We, as a species, like to second-guess and doubt our abilities, hence we often fail to act. We become paralyzed by fear.
Wolves interact with other wolves within the pack in an extremely gracious manner. After a scuffle or two, every wolf knows his place within the pack hierarchy. I witnessed this personally when I saw a wolf pup approach the elk carcass and bow his head in submission to the elder wolves. He was asking permission to join in the feast.
It would be a stretch to claim that the wolf interacts graciously with other species. Ask any elk if you don’t believe me.
Humans mostly behave by the rules of a civilized society in terms of politeness and protocol. But again interestingly, we often forget those rules when dealing with the people we know best. Familiarity breeds contempt. We hurt the ones we love. We know better (because of our ability to reason) but still exhibit ourselves as human and all too often act without grace.
So, here is the irony.
Wolves can’t think and reason, yet almost always act and interact with pure determination and graciousness.
Humans can think and yet, all too frequently, don’t act with moxie or interact graciously with others.
Can you say that ‘life is like a box of chocolates’?
How about ‘stupid is as stupid does’?
Or ‘God sure does work in mysterious ways’!
Next Blog Title: Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They’re Hatched – Part 1
Next Blog Date: May 7, 2012