The Peaceful Kingdom is the title of 60 or so paintings illustrating Isaiah 11: 6-8 “The wolf will live with the lamb…” by preacher/artist Edward Hicks. They all show the various beasts hanging out together peacefully rather than the predator and prey interactions you’d expect. Human children are in the mix, but when adult humans are shown, they are usually in the background shown as first and third Americans negotiating a treaty. The implication is that they will be peaceable, too, and you know how that worked out.

We all know that kingdoms, negotiated or not, don’t work out for 99% of those involved without there being some sort of artificial arrangement like a representative democracy where the would-be governed knowingly give up some freedoms for some security or in extreme examples “the greater good.”

It’s either that or something more like a zoo where an outside force does what it wants to get what it wants while creating the illusion of both freedom and security. We have a zoo. We don’t have a representation democracy, no matter how hard we pretend. Our outside force—and not a force we want with us—is the free market establishment elite who don’t see the rest of us as fellow humans but as mere ends to means.

For my “Peaceable Kingdom Venture Park & Zoo” I keep the wolf, lamb and some of other creatures from Hicks’ works for the foreground, but I put the humans in a setting that’s more realistic than one of Hicks’ peaceful negotiations: the always popular monkey island exhibit. So which species represents us in a faux democracy best?

How about pan troglodytes aka chimpanzees? They are our closest relatives. We treat them as we do ourselves; love them when they are young and institutionalize them when they get old. And they do resemble us socially. We are most like them at sporting events or populist rallies. They are often the most popular exhibits at zoos where we can watch their antics and pretend to be superior without feeling hypocritical.

Bonobos? I don’t think they are right either. Pan paniscus have a matriarchal society where they in a distinctly un-human-like manner use sex to solve problems not create them. You don’t see them very often in zoos because they like to solve problems a lot. Plus they, unlike chimps and us, don’t murder each other.

Then there are gorillas (gorilla gorilla…) they might do. Their social structure is like ours, it’s one where powerful males runs the show by yelling, throwing stuff and pounding chests. The females curry their favor and the other males plot their demise, but all submit to the silverbacks’ will, like it or not. But gorilla family/harems are different from us in that they choose comfort over competition and keep apart for other groups. So maybe not.

So consider baboons (Papio…) they, like us, live in hierarchical xenophobic troops as large as their communication skills allow. They commute, eat anything, are sneaky and greedy, too. They live in “families” within the troop and the head of household males fight to reassert, revise their rank or keep the females in there place. So they do resemble us socially, but they are not “great” apes. Sad!

So none of our hairier kin seem quite right, though each in their own unique ways come uncannily close. So I guess I’ll just fill the island with elites.