I kind of like this sometimes interesting, sometimes lame, new TV show called “Being Human”. It posits a reality where there are both Werewolves and Vampires among us; and explores the difficulty of room-mates; one of whom is a ghost, one a vampire and the third a Werewolf. It draws inspiration from the movies and from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” I don’t watch it for insights. It just helps me get to sleep.

Metaphorical Beings versus Mythical Beings

Anyway, while watching it I realized that the reason we have such a fascination with Zombies, Ghosts, Wherewolves and Vampires, is that metaphorically they live among us and these images crystalize our fears. Myths capture metaphorical realities: Zombies crystalize our collective fears about creating a class of “non-persons” [the living dead] who might turn on us in incoherent viciousness. Somehow Zombies always make me think of the homeless people who ask me for money as I travel down the street. What if they turned on me? Their numbers seem to keep expanding. They are the “hungry ghosts” of our nightmares, forever living with the hunger to suck on our brains.

Ghosts, nowadays, have been turned into cute non-living folks who still hang around us — though we can’t see them. Of course they represent our fear of death and our hopes that something will continue after we die.

Vampires are all around us figuratively. They are the folks who suck out our energy, depend on us, live on our efforts, and ultimately they represent our fear of losing our integrity, becoming such seductive yet amoral beings ourselves.

The Werewolves among us

But for me, it is the werewolves among us who concern me the most. Not the guy in that TV series, he is acting against the metaphor in order to illustrate the metaphor (like Angel in the Buffy series).

Werewolves aren’t just mythical beasts; they are a metaphorical reality. And fighting back against them is a matter of survival. Metaphorically these people are running the show right now!

Who are the Werewolves?

They are people who have taken to [figuratively] worshipping Mars after being seduced by Athena. They are people who have embraced the notions of social darwinism, conflict and “competition” as if they were virtues — and who see themselves as “wolves” in the midst of sheep. They are the people who embrace Machievellianism; and also people who think that Machievelli was an ethicist with too fine a set of scruples. It’s not just myth with the “werewolves” it is an active metaphor for a large self identifying subclass of human beings.

They aren’t literally wolves, but since humans are a dual beast, they are the people for whom the “predator within” is a virtue; and the “prey” is legitimately their fellow human beings.

I have an acquaintance who argued that he was a “wolf” and that the rest of the people, as sheep, get what is coming to them. Nothing personal I’m speaking metaphorically and about a self identification. His philosophy, to the extent that he actually in fact embraces it for real (he’s a nice man so I’m not sure how seriously he embraces it) — he is a werewolf.

Wolves and Sheep on the Run

He also notes that we human beings are herd animals. In his view that makes us sheep. Personally I like to identify with buffalo, but sheep and buffalo both share that common property of being herd animals. So my friend has a point. I just prefer to use a different image for a different connotation.

And though the word is “pack” rather than “herd” wolves are herd animals too. They run in packs. They pick “fearless leaders” to lead them, and if the leader shows weakness they challenge, depose, and often kill him or her. Werewolves run in packs too.

Moral Repulsiveness

Wolves hunt herds of sheep, but werewolves hunt humans. That is not only a definitional difference, that is a moral distinction. There is something repulsive about hunting and killing human beings for sport or food. And no matter how much we try to glorify war, war is repulsive because it turns humans into [figurative] werewolves.

Moonbeams and Moonbats

And the Werewolf analogy is apt for another reason too. Werewolves are “human” for most of the month, but when the moon is right they turn into wolves. Figurative werewolves always look human, but they are transformed by ideology, pathology, greed/hunger/ambition to prey on human beings. It is the ideologies, the short term thinking, the hatred, jealousy and hunger, that turn “sheep” into wolves.

It takes the moonbeams of warfare, threat, “democracy on the march” to turn sheep into Wolves. There is a kind of insanity that sets on people when they are told that someone is out to get them. Ironically, it is herd behavior that sets men on the march like armies of wolves or swarms of locusts across a landscape. Often it is the sheep within that drives most of those men and women, and it is the werewolves among us who direct them. The werewolves among us running along the edge of the herd keep it running, often towards a cliff.

Moonbeams versus all the time.

All of us are susceptable to turning into temporary werewolves under the influence of the moon. For example, after 9/11 some of the gentlest people I know wanted to blow up half of Afghanistan. But the true werewolves among us see the rest of us as sheep, and play on this tendancy. They are human predators. Perhaps the best examples are serial killers who see their fellow human beings solely as objects for their own predation. Such people are truly spiritual werewolves. But there are many more sociopaths with a less severe pathology among us. Those people, especially when they ensconce themselves in business government, executive, or banking roles, are truly human predators as well. And we see the same reckless attitude that the rest of us are “sheep” among them as my friend talks.

The Predators Among us

We now have inalterable proof, for example, that the Bush Administration made up 90% of their arguments on Saddam Hussein being in imminent danger of getting his hands on weapons of mass destruction. The trouble with “werewolves” is that there are werewolves and werewolves. It is that embrasure of Machievelli (or ideas that consider Machievelli too soft), darwinism, and the “elan” and “virtue” of being a human wolf among “sheep” that makes a person a real werewolf. The real werewolves prey on humans knowing that the person running with the herd is not a wolf — but nevertheless prey on him. These are werewolves who don’t need a moon to change, it is their inward nature. I consider these people to be sociopaths not normal people — human inward predators — werewolves.

And these are people who will stampede an entire herd off of a cliff just so they can get a single good meal.

Resisting the Moonbeams

It is difficult to resist human werewolves.

First, they are hard to identify. Their wolfishness is not on their face except in the form of a nice smile, or a brave sounding speech. Indeed they are often attractive to people. People are drawn to them as “fearless leaders” or extraordinary individuals.

Second, when we recognize the wolves among us, they recognize a threat and will attack. Even without wolves standing guard, herd animals tend to see animals that won’t go with the herd as “troublemakers”, and our werewolves take advantage of that by attacking any animal that pauses, pulls out, or removes himself from the herd. It is impossible for any individual to resist the stampeding of a herd by him or herself, because the real werewolves will single that person out and eat them for lunch.

Defeating the Human Werewolves

The only way to resist the wolves among us is to identify them, wake up from our own moon-dreams, and slow down our stampede by organizing ourselves in such a way as to isolate them and protect our weaker members from their attacks. A herd of Buffalo will form a circle around their young, old, weak, sick, and defend them as a group. Indeed, when the “warrior” instinct is modified to something that defends human beings, then it becomes a good thing. It is the definition of fellow human beings as prey that makes people spiritual werewolves and predators. This is the difference between a serial killer and a cop.

We cannot defeat human predators (spiritual werewolves) alone. We have to organize to do so. As long as we don’t organize, don’t identify what makes humans into Werewolves, and don’t fight both the moonbeams and the inward predators, we’ll continue to find our efforts impossible. No one person can standup to a pack of wolves. It takes a team.

More importantly, what it takes to defeat these “human werewolves” is that each of us take care to avoid morphing into one. This evil is a universal tendancy in all of us and we need to listen to our better lights and not be dazzled by the moonbeams into unreasoning violence. When people at war, it is werewolves against werewolves.

Anyway, just some thoughts