Monday, August 03, 2015
The long historical disgrace of our treatment, abuse, exploitation and murder of animals….
All of them, from the highest to the lowest. From the microscopic to the leviathans.
I liked every kind of animal right from the very beginning. My mother told me I used to walk around with insects parked on my arm or in my hand; talking to them. Telling them stories, Singing them songs. Even “Flys”, she said.
The betrayal and destruction of so many animals; the exploitation and brutality of the commercial and medical use of animals…all of it. There are billions, billions I say again, billions of animals used up one way or another. The absolute magnitude of the assault on the animal population of the earth is, to me, utterly unspeakable.
As a kid, I started out as a kid; I feel really let down. Every animal on earth is either in danger directly, or living in nervous fear of every human being around it in anticipation of danger. When I was a kid, the very idea that this portfolio of information about the fate and condition of our animals, was unthinkable. As an old man, I still remember the feelings that kid had for the animals.
Even as we continue to discover new species, animals all over the world are on the run from civilisation, from corporations, from poachers, from the indifference of idiots. Some countries have placed entire categories of animals under armed guards.
Spider killing tourist: A woman, middle-aged, short and a little stocky. She was accompanied by a man. They were walking up to the well-greened entrance to my art gallery in the PNW and I was coming up to meet them just at the first stair to the gallery entrance; the woman stops, stomps on a spider, just as I catch up with them. I was quite agitated..immediately asked her why she was killing spiders on my land? She had nothing to say, she and the man. I told them directly off the land and watched as they walked back to their automobile. That was so long ago, but I will never forget it. I was never the kind of person to stomp on or smack insects or lizards or ants as they go about. Yet, this kind of behaviour is so common, no one thinks anything about it at all. Even now, if an insect gets into the house, I take a few moments and just carry it or direct it out the door. That feels a lot better than slamming them into a smear.
I don’t like dogs so much. All that unrestrained barking. But I don’t want to hurt them. There is nothing so sad as the face of an abused and neglected doggie. It is complicated. Our attitude towards the animals. Or it seems to be.
What about Cecile the Lion? A beloved and “protected”, majestic animal, with a large family depending upon him, shot with an arrow…in terror and pain, running for his life for hours…bleeding, filled with fear and rage: finally murdered with a bullet from a high powered “sport rifle”…skinned, his head cut off. All done by a coward with money, an ignorant white man, a medical professional (dentist)…from what was once the heartland of Ojibwe lands.
There appears to be some outrage. Is there enough outrage to change anything? Maybe. Just a little. Some 600 lions are “legally” hunted each year. That needs to fucking stop.
Some time ago a man world famous for his life long work with Elephants passed away in Africa. For days Elephants from all over Africa made their way to his home base to say goodbye. !!!! A teaching moment for all human beings. How did they know? Why did they care? This is one of the most incredible events I have seen in my entire life. No one is paying attention.
For centuries human beings have dismissed, ignored, abused and denied that the animals have souls, feeling, memories, intelligence, awareness: all lies…cowardly, ignorant, arrogant and deeply disturbing.
We have all heard stories about dogs or cats separated from their adopted families, sometimes by thousands of miles, finding their way home again…somehow, some way. The consequence: humanity has learned nothing. We ignore and refuse to take into our comprehension these lessons, these revelations, these absolute proofs.
Dead Eagles in New Mexico: years ago there was a federal agency who set up an operation where they would buy animal bodies, Eagles in particular. In that area Eagles had made a great recovery after years and years of being rare. This part of New Mexico is very poor. Very few jobs for anyone. The word went out that this little group was paying cash for Eagles, up to $10,000 for a single Eagle. That is a lot of money in an area where there are no jobs. Up until that moment, no one was bothering the Eagles and they had made a strong recovery. However, as the word got around about this cash being available, people who had never broken the law started killing Eagles. Dozens were killed and sold to these undercover agents. Eventually the buy operation was closed and police closed in and arrested all those poor people who had sold them dead Eagles. Once the cases came to court, however, something strange happened. The judge hearing the case was outraged. He felt that the cops had set everyone up. He felt that until the cops showed up, there was in fact not a problem. In his outrage he actually dismissed all the cases against the so-called poachers…AND brought charges against the agents who initiated this stupid program. To bad there are not more courageous judges like this one. I have been poor. In my life I have even been homeless, without food also. Yet I never would kill an Eagle to get money. I am not sympathetic to poor people who loose their souls and feel they should kill an Eagle to feed themselves…BUT I do understand the pressure, the desperation. It is this same sorry pressure that leads poor Africans to murder endangered animals for their body parts. Like the stupid cops in New Mexico, really, it is the BUYER, the people willing to buy endangered animals and their parts that create these problems. IF no one would buy Rhino horn, the Rhino would be safe.
The old Indians lived in great harmony and respect for the animals and the plants around them. These facts are well known and well documented. YET it is these humble and intelligent people who were called savages and condemned by the Europeans who swarmed over the “new world” like a vicious virus, killing every animal in sight, harvesting the ancient forests, creating massive, farms dependant upon toxic chemicals and insane ecological devastation to make their money.
Modern people are still doing this…it has in fact become elevated to a high art with huge factories processing thousands of chickens, cows, pigs, corn, tobacco, vegetables at unimaginable scales. Plants feed on chemicals in dead soil in arid deserts. Pigs and cows spend their entire short lives standing in pens where they cannot even turn around.
That kid who walked around the house with a bug on his arm, discussing the merits of affection and friendship, wanted to change the world. He thought all the animals would help him, would believe him, even if he never really said this to anyone else, to the adults. Sixty years later everything has changed. But not in the way I imagined. Not in the way that I hoped.
As a boy I thought education was the root and the key. In my regular classes in pre-college schools, the balance of nature, the value of animals, the ethics of responsible behaviour was “taught” to us almost daily. As an adult I have watched the GOP gut and decimate schools, teachers, curriculums. I have watched how even so-called religious organisations have forbidden and repressed honest science…and politicians fuelled by corporate profits fight, resist and destroy common sense regulations and laws that would protect and preserve nature…every fucking day I see this.
It is like watching the inmates of the asylum become the overlords. The criminals become the law givers. The cowards become the protectors. In the America this disaster is fuelled entirely by the political right, whose God is Ronald Reagan.
How can this be changed? Hundreds of millions of animals tortured for science and for cosmetics…majestic, ancient species murdered for some small body part…ancient species murdered for the sport of despicable, bored, men and women with money…I know absolutely no one right now who has any idea how to stop this terrible momentum.
I did learn some important lessons from the old Indians who were my teachers in this life. Those lessons are humble lessons. Lessons about the power of the individual. Lessons about individuals learning to take responsibility for their lives, for their choices. YOU. ME. I. That is our only hope. You and I have powers of choice. Power to choose what we buy, whom we vote for, what we do with our feet and hands. Saying this feels almost, but not completely, hopeless. There is so much apathy, indifference; so little courage. I have not in fact changed the world, but I have changed little things…one by one, day by day, in small groups, in private conversations, in small ceremonies.
Each individual who struggles to Wake Up can help one other person Wake Up. The Power of the One. Of you. That is, today, our only hope. That is our most sacred resource. You.
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