CHIEF ARCHON RAYMOND MINK: THE EXIT INTERVIEW
In his only exit interview, The Park’s 2016 Chief Archon, Raymond Mink, whose term ended today, told The Mammalian Daily that he believes that, to some extent, disharmony among the species is a sign of zoocracy’s success, but that anger and isolationism are not a solution. An excerpt of this interview was published on December 29, 2016.
We sat down with Chief Archon Raymond H. Mink in early December to discuss his views on zoocracy, the direction The Park is going, and other important aspects of governing this vast space and its diverse population.
TMD: Thank you, Chief Archon, for sitting down with us today.
RM: Thank you for having me. I’m delighted to be talking to you today.
TMD: One of the most important questions I think Park citizens have is how would you evaluate the success—or failure—of our political system? Do you think zoocracy will thrive in the coming years and, perhaps, even spread to other parks? Or do you see it being dismantled as we speak, with disharmony among the species in evidence every day? And does that disappoint you?
RM: Well! That is truly a multi-part question! Let me, to use your own word, dismantle that question and talk about it because, as you say, this is a very important issue.
First of all, no, I don’t think zoocracy will be “dismantled,” as you put it. We’ve come too far for that to happen. How would Park Animals react to being governed, say, from the outside, or by Humans, or by a self-appointed Queen or King? Not well, I would think. And that wouldn’t last long. It couldn’t. Thirty-five years, yes in some ways it’s a very short time. But it’s also a very long time. For some species, that would be many, many generations. Perhaps ten or more. For others, not so much. But I think it’s safe to say that those who live here have grown accustomed to the idea of self-rule. And many have known nothing else. Zoocracy is here to stay.
About disharmony among the species…I have many thoughts on this subject. Does it disappoint me? I don’t know that disappointment is even relevant. It doesn’t surprise me. Take a look around. We are lucky enough to host thousands of species in this one space and it would be disingenuous to act as if we are not competing for everything. We most certainly are. We compete for space, for food, for sustenance of every sort, for our very survival. If you think about it, is there any reason at all that we should get along? So, no, I’m not surprised that tensions have built, and resentments too.
You—and I emphasize you because you are asking the question—you may be surprised to find out that I see this disharmony as a good thing. I see it as a symptom of zoocracy’s maturation, of its promise, and of The Park’s prosperity. When this all started, we had one common enemy and one common goal. Humans were the enemy, and governing ourselves was the goal. You will discover, as our celebrrtion of thirty-five years of zoocracy continues throughout the year, that actual self-government—Animals governing Animals—was not our founder’s first choice, nor did he believe, at least at first, that it would last. What were the chances? Realistically?
So, you see, it was a grand experiment, but it was one that appealed to all of us. And we realized that we were all in it together, all working toward a common goal. And, as a result, I would say that we pussyfooted around each other most of the time, lest our goal be jeopardized by the interests of any particular species. So for many years, that was the case, and every year we celebrated our collective survival and the survival of our political system—a system that desperately needs to be tweaked and modernized and expanded—but nevertheless, a system that belongs to us.
But, as I said, as we grew within the system and as we relaxed against our common enemy, we began to turn on each other. No longer did we see only Humans as standing in the way of our personal success; we saw each other as doing that, as well. I’m not saying that that is a healthy attitude, but I am saying that it displays the health of our government. That we can look away from it, cease to guard it and with the security of it intact, look to other things…look to ourselves.
TMD: But the anger that has been displayed in the past few years…
RM: Ah, anger. Anger will tell you a lot more about yourself and about others than any other emotion will ever do. You have to understand, anger is the preserve of the powerless. Or those who believe they are powerless. That is where the go to lick their wounds, perceived or real. Those who feel vulnerable, and perhaps disenfranchised, look to others and see that they appear to be in a better position. And this makes them angry because they believe they’ve lost their power.
The anger among the species that has been displayed in the past few years indicates to me that we have stepped away from the collective, that we’ve become more concerned about ourselves and that we’ve retreated to our own species and groups. That is not surprising as I said before. But it isn’t healthy, either. Unless we deal with it head-on, it could undo entirely the peace we’ve forged here in The Park.
Now, mind you, some of this anger is justified. And that is what we should be looking at. Not that any one species has taken another’s anything, but that perhaps some species are more in need. Perhaps because they have come from different climates, different circumstances. In some cases, because their coats seem strange to other species. Whatever the reason, we have to acknowledge our own feelings about each other if we’re going to diffuse the anger. That’s why I’ve been such a supporter of our Stereotype Sundays and, indeed, of all our efforts to foster awareness and understanding of others.
TMD: Do you think Stereotype Sundays have been successful?
RM: I do. They’re not the only answer, of course. It’s a complicated issue, as is the issue of open immigration. But we have to be a park that welcomes others who have suffered. That was the basis of…that was our foundation. That is why we exist. To build a better world for Animals of all, if I may say, stripes. And spots, as well. And, yes, to some extent, as you asked at the beginning, to be a model for other parks. To be able to say, yes it’s difficult, but it works. And, in the end, it is all worth it.
TMD: Is it worth it?
RM: How could it not be? Is there an alternative that you know of that I don’t?
TMD: No. I was just wondering.
RM: It’s an imperfect system. And we live an imperfect life. That is not news.
TMD: Where do you, personally, go from here? What do you see in your future?
RM: I’m cleaning out my office presently, and I’m just a touch lost, but I will find my feet soon enough. I do believe that Archons should be able to serve more than once. I think we’re losing a lot of experience by not allowing that.
TMD: Are you saying that, if you could, you would serve another term?
RM: I’m saying just what I said. That if should be allowed. I certainly wouldn’t go right into another term now. But in a few years, I can see that being an appealing choice, yes.
But, as it stands, the only way to share what I’ve learned and what I’ve observed is to do what all other Chief Archons have done: to write a book. And that I will do, but I prefer to do it with a bit more perspective. So, I wouldn’t go looking for it this year.
TMD: Mr. Chief Archon, it has been a pleasure to talk to you today. We all in The Park wish you well in whatever you choose to do from hereon in. And we want to express our deep gratitude for your work in the service of zoocracy and The Park.
RM: The pleasure has been all mine, both in this interview and in serving as Chief Archon. I’ll see you all at the swearing-in on January 16 and again on Groundhog Day.