Tuesday, October 7, 2014
"Our minds are made up of the animals we have attended." ~I believe this is from Robert Bringhurst
We tend to love the underdog in occupation stories. In the movie Independence Day we humans come together and fight off the vastly superior technological force from outer space that is trying to wipe us out and take over our home. We set aside all disbelief that we could make a virus for their super advanced computers that will wipe them out. In War of the Worlds the alien invading species is wiped out by disease that they have no way of coping with. We like those stories. But in the real world that is not really what we support. Our vastly superior technological weapons have swept over the globe, pushing out of the way by whatever means of genocide or biological warfare we can muster the Native aboriginal peoples that are in our way. Progress must progress after all. It is usually the invading species that wipes away the indigenous species with their disease by the way. What should happen, by all logic and karmic reasons when the aliens or angels or monsters arrive, is that we should be wiped away without a trace. By our own moral system, as we actually live it, not by what we profess, but by what has transpired over human history, these superior species are within their rights to push us out of the way and wipe us out as pests in the way of progress.
We still act this way. We act as if we are the only species that matters in the Earth. There are times when death is necessary in the cycle of things. I am not a vegetarian or a pacifist, and i do believe the fact that i am alive gives me the right to eat. But, that being said, there is a way to go about that with respect. I do not for example eat veal. That is to me simply the torturing of an animal just because we find it yummy. I have the right to eat, but not to disrespect and flaunt my power in a way that tortures the beings that are lower down on the food chain. Aboriginal people knew this and they treated the animals and the plants that they ate with respect, because in a hunting world view, the food you eat is a gift from related beings. You go out in the woods and wait for the food to come to you on its time. That changes with farming and domestication of animals. We put the animals in fences and they become a commodity. They are no longer the free acting agents of their own will capable of giving you a gift... they are property.
As i said, there are times when death is necessary. We need to eat energy to survive and eating of animals and plants is part of the cycle and the natural order of things. But, there are certain things that should occur in that cycle. We should treat these beings with respect. It does not matter whether or not they have a soul or are as smart as we are, what matters is whether or not they are capable of suffering. A good hunter will only take a clean kill. Ultimately that leads to better and more healthy food as well. An animal that suffers when it dies for longer periods of time has higher levels of stress hormones and unhealthy elements in its meat. I am not saying this is why we should be respectful, but it is a side effect. We should be respectful because it is the right thing to do. We are at the top of the food chain and have a responsibility to the animals in that cycle with us.
Sometimes we need to kill animals for other reasons besides food. Sometimes, they are suffering. I remember holding my cat Ninja as the heart beat and breath slowly left his body when we put him to sleep. He had gone from a 14 pound muscular and sleek hunter of the night, to a 6 pound shell that had pain when he walked and could not keep his food down. I wept. He was my friend and my teacher and i was there with him in his last moments those many years ago. He purred. I could feel it as surely as i could hear it as he left this adventure and went on to the next one. We laid his body in a place of honor and there is moss and roses growing there now. His body has fed them and the cycle continues.
Recently, i saw an animal that had rabies killed. It needed to be done i guess. However, there was laughter and video taping and the whole thing was treated as a joke. It may have been necessary, but it should never be taken lightly. Not only that, the initial "kill" with a shovel or pitch fork did not succeed and about 5 minutes later they realized the animal was still alive and trying to move about. I was filled with rage. My people, my species bothers me on many occasions and our disregard for the other beings we share this planet with is where it is probably at its greatest.
We are a part of the great cycle, the great dance of life on this living orb that hurtles through space and time. We have minds capable of so much and thumbs that allow our thoughts to be made reality in the world around us. We need to take care of these beings. We know as children how important animals are to our psyche with the stuffed animals and the wonder children see in their pets and any encounter with an animal in the outside world. The next time you eat, say grace. Say it to a divine power if you wish, but also, and i think more importantly, say thank you to the being that put on its fleshy coat for awhile so that you may survive. It is a gift, it is grace. Acknowledge that handshake that you are given from your other than human kin that haunt the forests and the fields all around us. Say thank you to your cat, your dog, your snake or your gold fish even. They teach us about our humanity. There is a reason why serial killers usually start with animals. The killing of humans later is related, because we are all related,all the two-legs, the four-legs, the wings of the air and the gills of the sea. Get excited when you see a wild animal intrude upon the teflon coated world we live in. It is amazing. Business as usual happens in the woods.