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Perma-War. Terror. Bombing. Beheading. Occupation. Police Brutality. Torture. Blowback. Mass Murders in Schools, Nightclubs, Abortion Clinics, Churches, Temples, Mosques, Malls and Mini-Marts. Shootings. Knifings. Crack-Downs. Racism. Sexism. Rape. Gang Rape. Religious Abuse. Bullying. The 1%. Bigotry. Poverty. Ecological Degradation. Environmental Destruction. Domestic Violence. Weapons of Mass Destruction. Soda-Can Bombs. Overpopulation. Intolerance. Xenophobia. Erotophobia. Hatred. Jealousy. Greed. Failed Relationships. Battles. Bitterness. Loneliness. Hopelessness. Alienation. Despair. War without end…
Is that the best we can do? Scanning the headlines from 2015, it seems that’s all that we do. But our kissing cousins, the bonobos, show us that we humans can do better.
The Bonobo Way
What can a bunch of wild, hairy, hooting apes teach us smart, civilized, jumbo-brained apes? How about how to end war without end? Just in case you haven’t read The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure or seen the baby bonobos playing jungle gym on Anderson Cooper’s head, please allow me to introduce you to the long-lost “kissing cousins” you never knew you had. Meet the “Make Love Not War” bonobo chimpanzees (pan paniscus), over 98% genetically similar to homo sapiens (that’s all of us, not just gay guys). But, unlike common chimps (pan troglodyte), who are equally close to human and sometimes murder and even conduct tribal “wars” (though nowhere near as much as we do), bonobos have never been seen killing each other in the wild or captivity… despite what you might see in bonobo-defamatory Planet of the Apes remakes.
How do they do this, and can we learn to do it too?
Bonobos are not angels; they’re apes like us. Like us, they fight, sometimes over the silliest things. But they use sex, female empowerment, food-sharing and lots of hugs and kisses to diffuse violent tension before it descends into murder and mayhem… or the chimp version of ISIS and Trump.
Not that I’m suggesting that that The Donald and Al-Baghdadi rub their penises or testicles together and then smooch and do lunch like feuding male bonobos do. On second thought, that would be pretty entertaining and much safer for everyone than the blowback from these blowhards’ rousing orations.
But there are other more serious and sustainable ways to translate bonobo love into human terms: sharing resources, diplomacy, empowering females (both “real women” and men’s feminine sides), compassionate communication, honoring our fellow humanity, caring for each other and the Earth. Oh, and not bombing or beheading anybody.
Bonobos model all of this. They show us that “peace” is not just some hippie-dippie pipedream, but integral to our primal nature, perhaps even to our primitive, pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer, “fierce egalitarian” past, a part of our primate heritage with which the bonobos never lost touch. Can we open up that part of ourselves and “release our inner bonobos”… before it’s too late?
#GoBonobos in the New Year
It’s been a year since, in the throbbing throes of a post-New Year’s hangover, I impulsively declared 2015 to be the “Year of the Bonobo,” then took two aspirin and went back to bed.
Before long, a few enlightened and slightly kinky individuals, including my beloved prime-mate Capt’n Max, Ecosexuality editor Dr. SerenaGaia Anderlini D’Onofrio, Sex at Dawn author Christopher Ryan, Ph.D., former United States Ambassador from Pakistan and current Pakistani Senator Sherry Rehman, pioneering feminist “Godmother of Masturbation” Dr. Betty Dodson, Bonobo Handshake author Vanessa Woods, distinguished science writer Dorion Sagan and many others joined me in recognizing the peace-through-pleasure-loving, female-empowered bonobo as a new great ape paradigm for humanity. These were followed by still more bonoboësque individuals and communities, ethical hedonists, ecosexuals, environmentalists, pro-sex feminists, peace activists, porn stars, professors, sexperts, fetishists, polyamorists, BDSM’ers, femdom worshippers, witches, healers, swingers and animal lovers, all saying and tweeting something to the effect of “Yes! Let’s #GoBonobos,” and lo and behold, the “Year of the Bonobo” was in full swing, and the Bonobo Way had become a “movement.”
Obviously and most unfortunately, we didn’t stop the bombing or the beheading. But we did our best to practice peace through pleasure and spread the word while having more fun than a barrel of bonobos. Sometimes that’s all you can do, and that’s a lot. Even if you can’t “change the world,” you can change your world; that is, yourself. The Revolution (and any sustainable New Year’s resolution) starts with you… and me. With us.
Save the Real Bonobos from Extinction
So we swung through 2015, and it seemed to go faster than one spin (revolution?) of a merry-go-round, producing some 50 shows—every Saturday night live from Bonoboville—releasing our inner bonobos in various states of collective ecstasy, artistic expression, spirited intoxication, progressive evolution and ever-deepening romantic love, with Bonobo Way book-spankings (be well-read or get… well, red) and a little discombobulating human drama thrown in every so often to keep us from taking our bonoboësque selves too seriously.
But Year of the Bonobo priority #1 was and still is protecting and rescuing the highly endangered real bonobos from human war, deforestation and, especially, poaching. Doing our small part in this effort since we first learned about bonobos in the 1990s, Max and I have supported Lola ya Bonobo, a bonobo “refugee” sanctuary outside Kinshasa, the capital of the wartorn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the only country where wild bonobos live, with $20-per-month donations, “adopting” various orphans to help them heal, grow and sometimes get released back to the wild. In 2015, thanks to Bonobo Way reader, feminist, environmentalist and philanthropist Malcomb Jones’ generous investment and the unanimous endorsement of the women of the Bonobo Way Female Empowerment Outreach Project (also funded by Mal), we are proud to say we were able to donate $1000.00 to Lola ya Bonobo, a high point of our Year of the Bonobo 2015. The money is being spent on educational programs, providing food for hungry bonobo orphans and much-needed radio collars for the newly released adults in Ekolo ya Bonobo, “Land of the Bonobos.”
Just a few weeks later, “60 Minutes” aired Cooper’s momentous visit where playful baby bonobos tousled his silvery coiffure (“You’re a white bonobo,” teased Lola director Claudine André). This appearance, another high point of the first Year of the Bonobo, greatly enhanced bonobo awareness around the world, but the battle for bonobo survival is hardly won, and much more is still needed. Our New Year’s Resolution for 2016, the second Year of the Bonobo, is to donate more to Lola as well as other groups doing vital, innovative conservation, such as our old friend Sally Coxe’s Bonobo Conservation Initiative (BCI) which is developing a Bonobo Peace Forest that supports villagers protecting their bonobo populations from the poachers who would murder them for “bushmeat” to be served and eaten “off the menu.” No wonder we need another Year of the Bonobo—at least!
Cui Bono? Not the Bonobos! The Nefarious MICs
Meanwhile, the Perma-War drones on around us, a “war of the worlds” in a world of war, mass-murder and ecological loss. Who gains? Cui bono (not bonobo!) is Latin for “to whose profit?” and is used as a key forensic question in legal and police investigations when figuring out who has a motive for a crime.
It doesn’t take much figuring to realize that the clear and ever-present beneficiaries of the Perma-War mess are the ones who are making it: The Military Industrial Complex (MIC), “the permanent armament industry of immense proportions” which President Dwight D. Eisenhower so famously warned American citizens to restrain. That includes all branches of the military and the “Defense Industry” that manufacturers not just the bombs we explode, but the planes that fly them, not to mention the toilet paper that the drone pilots use to wipe their butts on breaks from blowing up villages via remote control. The MIC also includes all the “terrorist” organizations (for where would the MIC be without “the enemy”?), as well as the politicians who sow the fear and rage, while pocketing the cash from MIC lobbyists, like whores slobbering over gunslingers, except whores are much more honorable. And then there is the ever-expanding media wing of the MIC which, whether liberal or conservative, thrives on blood lust and spectacles.
Unlike our shoestring-budgeted, Commedia Erotica shows here in Bonoboville, military spectacle is expensive theater. The most extravagant Hollywood blockbuster has nothing on the MIC. In 2015, more than half of the U.S. “discretionary” budget of $1.11 trillion was spent on “Defense,” leaving meager scraps for little bonoboësque things like “Food,” “Science,” “Housing & Community,” “Education,” “Transportation,” “Government” and even “Veterans’ Benefits.”
The “Military-Industrial Complex” sounds like a nameless, faceless, multi-platform machine, and in a way it is. Forget “AI” science fiction fantasies; this very real “War Machine” could decimate our very humanity. Nevertheless, at this moment in history, it still has some very specific, very human names and faces: the Bush Families, the Cheney clan, the legacies of Saudi Kings (who, head for head, chop off a lot more craniums than ISIS), The Donald Before Trump (Rumsfeld) and the comparatively mild-mannered but MIC-adoring Hillary Clinton, among others. ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is also a member-in-excellent-standing of the MIC. His internment in America’s Camp Bucca near Falujah in 2004 sounds like a kind of detainee boot camp, humiliating, toughening and radicalizing this once shy cleric before releasing him to assume his critical position as “enemy” in America’s “War on Terror.”
The MIC of LoVE
As for the relationship wars, imprisoning and torturing our “inner bonobos,” the beneficiaries of those messes are a different kind of “MIC,” the Marital-Industrial Complex (with a tip of my big floppy hat to Chris Ryan, Ph.D.), which includes the Dr. Phils of the world and anyone who seriously calls you a “sex addict.” This is the “MIC of Love,” made up of conventional, usually conservative relationship experts and “sexperts” who, with alchemical skill, transform your leaden feelings into gold… for themselves.
The rest of us have to suffer. Of course, some of us, like Syrian refugees, are suffering a great deal more than others, like the Kardashians, who don’t even blink a false eyelash if one of them runs somebody over.
War Machine or Bonobo Way?
In the meantime, in teeming cities and tiny villages around the world, from California to “the Caliphate,” we are still more alike than we are different. We all need sex, and we all need love. Our bonobo cousins show us how important this is to our individual and communal well-being. But the Perma-War Machine, including all individuals, corporations and technologies that benefit from its expansion, is here to program us otherwise, arming us with assault weapons, mesmerizing indoctrination videos and virtual hatred of the “other,” the “enemy,” the stranger.
That’s another remarkable thing about bonobos. They love their friends, but they adore strangers just as much, if not more. When given a choice between sharing food and sex with an old friend or a bonobo they’ve just met, they often choose the stranger. Most humans feel that same sort of deep, primal attraction to the new and the different, often despite the fear-mongering messages from both MICs. Ultimately, love will bring us together—physically (integration through fucking!) and spiritually (the Bonobo Way)—if we give peace, through pleasure, a chance.
That’s my resolution anyway, and the revolution (and the resolution) starts with me. And you. We’ve got another exciting new Year of the Bonobo ahead of us. We’ve all got choices to make. Be a cog in the War Machine or #GoBonobos #TheBonoboWay!