An Open Letter to the Furry Community
So, I've been in the furry community for several years now. Other than the occasional Drama Bomb, furs are really open, furry plurry-type people. I've seen life from a lot of different angles - I've researched so much of the political scene that I now Know What's Going On, I've been into metaphysics for about fifteen years now so I'd probably be really surprised if anything surprised me anymore - and the furry community has to be about the most meaningful thing on the planet. No, I'm serious. Where else are people so dedicated to just plain being fun open and positive? But I was doing some introspection a little bit ago, and had one of those "excuse me, but WTF are you doing" moments. And I honestly don't have an answer to this one. So while this isn't going to be "robble-robble-robble-furries-yiff-in-Hell" or anything, I'm genuinely boggled about something and I'm hoping that some fur out there knows the answer to this.
I can has... moar... furry?
So you MUCK online, you go to a convention and the air is thick with loving bouncy enthusiasm. Maybe you swoop through the room parties, possibly even meet someone you click with. All of this, by the way, is made of awesome. The next day, you stop by the dealer's room and pick up your regulation Ear And Tail Ensemble. And eventually you go back home, where you live, work, and continue to MUCK. Okies... does this make you a fur?
When you work to pay for rent, noms and the all-important Internet access, you almost invariably pay taxes. If you live in the States, that makes you a contributing shareholder of all the lovely, wonderful things our government likes to do. Invading other countries to knock over their governments, CIA drug imports, playing target practice with the Constitution, seizing war protestors' assets, the lot. They sure couldn't do it without your support, right? Like everyone else, furs generally pay their taxes, buy sweatshop-made goods, continue to fund the mainstream media's spiral down the big gurgling drain of Stupid... the lot of it. But we don't seem to be encountering furs going, "Hey, here's a big pile of Stupid that I'm not going to subsidize. I'm not going to be a contributing factor to this Awful Falafel, because I've already made a strong life-decision to be as positive and loving as I can be." No, we don't see that. At least, I don't. Maybe all the furs who are that intentional about living their lives have just been hiding from me, I dunno. But it's like going to a furry convention and finding happy, bouncy joyous furry goodness in a room full of furs who, like, still have the blood of slaughtered Iraqi children on their paws and don't have the forethought to go wash it off first - and everybody just ignores it because they're trying to have a good time or something. And so help me, I just don't get it.
"...if DIck Cheney slapped on ears and a tail, would that make him a fur?"
Aren't these mutually-exclusive choices we're talking about here? To the extent that you choose this really positive caring approach to life, you pretty much don't choose to be the opposite. Now I know we just adore being cozy, and furs now have a scene where they can retreat to and be cozy and happy and that's a billion different shades of fabtacular. But what I've been seeing is that we're choosing to be positive and happy, and so we don't generally stand up and go,
"Uhm, 'scuse me. That thing over there? That's really really wrong. I'm not going to be a part of it, because I really think it should die a horrible fiery death in a plague pit of rabies. Personally."
And I think we don't usually do that because we like to stay positive. But how positive is it, really, to take an active part in making terrible stuff happen and then pretend like we're a Play-Dough Fun Factory of Happy by acting like we're not? This is an exaggerated example to illustrate, but if Dick Cheney went to furry conventions and slapped on some ears and a tail, would that make him a fur? Maybe we all have to decide that one for ourselves. But I... think not. Personally.
I so get that people who find the furry community come into it and go, "Pfwew!" and sit down and soak in the cozy while they catch their breath from the World of Massive Stupid that's right outside the threshhold. And then once they plunk themselves down there, they stay there. Usually for the rest of their lives. But wait, what? This is retreat! We have something awesome and wonderful, right? Shouldn't we be regrouping and taking it outside, back to the people stuck in the World of Massive Stupid, and fixing stuff? Wouldn't that be the embodiment of like everything we're choosing to be and do in the furry community? What we've got right now is great, but when we don't do better it's like seeing someone in this little paper fursuit designed by the same company that brought us those flimsy hospital gowns that don't close at the back.
There's so much that we could be doing. The furry community, if it weren't so adorably humble, would boast one of the biggest collected assemblages of thinkers, designers, artists, programmers, engineers and just plain geeks in the known universe. Instead of developing a new module for Linux, we could be crafting new, better, and stable models for society and then letting them take root in ordinary everyday society because they'd just plain work better. The average Joe out there is just as miserable as you were, but lacks the capacity to come up with anything better. You don't, and these better models are in great demand out there! Do you really think people started using Windows because they went, "Hmm, Linux looks pretty stable and effective, but I think I'll throw a huge wad of dough over to some conglomerate that will utterly savage my computer because that sounds like a lot more fun!"? Somehow I doubt it - and if the Bush years were any indicator, people were just as out of options politically as they are technologically. Couldn't we give them some?
More to the point - and here's where things get interesting - couldn't we sell them some? Take Wolfpack for example. A while back I had the idea to get people together on a website where they could post corporate and political wrongdoing, and there'd be a fund attached. If people chipped in fifty or twenty bucks to a given cause, the fund would fill up and we could get an attorney to have their corporate charter yanked. People hunting in packs, taking down corrupt corporations and seizing their assets, and then getting those seized assets back as a return on their initial investment. How many people could retire and slay huge juggernaut corrupt corporations for a living instead? Stuff like this can work - why aren't furs doing it? Granted, my effort flopped because I'm not enough of a Drupal geek to be able to create the modules I'd need to get a website to do that - but I'm willing to bet there are furry Drupal geeks. And graphic design geeks. And political buffs. We... really could make a difference. And given how much demand those alternative options are getting to be in out there in the world, we could create systems (websites, programs, social movements, and so forth) that would make all kinds of great things happen and instead of scraping by to make rent and buy another case of Top Ramen, we could be tremendously financial successful because the rest of society would be rushing to participate in whatever great solutions we'd built. And then you wouldn't have to choose between being Happy and Rich.
So, that's the conundrum that's got me baffled. Why aren't we taking the furry... philosophy, if you want to label it something, and living it out there in the world? World of Massive Stupid needs skritchies, and these people are so miserable that you can practically name your price and they'll come bounding over to you like a drunk fox to a dance floor. We may be terribly neurotic and distant and have learned to hide away from the world because we've gotten by now that it's painful. But we're also incredibly brilliant, creative and sociable and can inject joy into a situation 'cause it's fun. That World of Massive Stupid out there? Yeah, that isn't. And we can make it fun! If we've learned to do that with our own lives, we can certainly bring it to the people who haven't found it yet.
I wanna hear you Murr!