At first glance the Houyhnhnms seem to be a very virtuous people. They supposedly seek righteousness and have no real knowledge of evil. Reading about the H.* reminded me of one of my favorite books, The Giver, about a carefully controlled utopian society. Much like the H. society in which emotions are not prevalent, human emotions are banned and controlled by a special pill. The same thing that stops love stops hatred.
This utopian society looks wonderful at first. It is full of order and great accomplishments. Everyone seems happy. There is no pain. But imagine for a moment, never experiencing love. While these people may not contend in war, without the human emotions they are far from being cured of cruel atrocities. Killing those babies who did not meet certain standards is the norm (The Giver) or enslaving a whole race of beings because of their looks and actions. In addition, in the H. land, the children were pruned, groomed and taught with the utmost care, but not discipleship. They are completely unattached to any individual over another.
Love. Hate. Joy. Freedom. Cruelty. Courage. Bravery. Desolation. Friendship. Betrayal. These things all come with the emotions of life. I think the question that both these stories raise is, is it worth it? Is love worth having cruelty in the world? I would argue that being able to feel pain, feel loss, feel horror at injustice and cruelty is equally as important as being able to feel joy, feel love, feel thankfulness for the gifts of God. Without these contradicting feelings we would not be truly human.
In conclusion, the H. unattached state is not a good thing. They are free from many of the evils humans know, but they are actually infested with some more subtle evils. Likewise the tendency of humans to get so attached to ideas, places and people is also harming, but God created us with emotions and the ability to do good and evil. These are an important aspects to humanity.
Also I would just quickly like to note that although I am seemingly comparing the H. to humans, it is important to note that they were not in any way human. I think it is best to remember that they are fantasy and could not truly be compared to other humans, although their characteristics and actions can.
Please comment your thoughts on my question or my answer!
*H. equals Houyhnhnms