If nothing else, let it not be said that I don’t consider your feelings as I’m writing these essays. That’s not to say that I don’t sometimes tromp all over them in my attempts to throw some light on a topic. What I mean to say is, the stomping is not gratuitous. A good friend commented the other night that she still hadn’t recovered from my blog on Quantum Mechanics. Sorry Chris. The Excedrin’s on me.
A Look Behind the Curtain: Right now I have three essays on deck. One is a little goofy, having to do with what happens when you inherit a gargantuan sum of Money. One is an examination of our quest for Excellence...with unexpected conclusions. And the third and most recent is analogous to giving a guided tour through a minefield of Ethics. Strangely, this one scares me most.
I was getting ready to send the scary minefield one on ethics out just this minute, but Pamela interceded on your behalf. “You can’t keep hammering them with tough topics. It’s too exhausting. ”
Sooo…this one below has been on my mind and though it’s somewhat bombastic, it glistens in the reality that it is equally bombastic to all mankind. This one shouldn’t hurt too much. Might make you smile… or not. And you’ll know in a week or so when the minefield one comes across your bow.
Mankind is at the tippy-top of the food chain. We have spread our toes over virtually every square foot of habitable as well as uninhabitable land and under-sea and air…something all our furry, scaly, feathery brethren have wisely avoided. Moreover, we’ve systematically exterminated whether intentionally or un, entire species…by the thousands. Okay, I’m declaring a victory. Mankind won, hands down. Yay, Mankind….
It’s not enough that we did that, however. We have vast subsections of humanity that stare with raised eyebrow at the rest of us. We have, our selective vegans and vegetarians. Two good friends (both stylish gals) come on like gangbusters if I look at the steak section of a menu. “Henry…How can you do that?” But then they’ll order Chicken Parmesan, or lobster, or eggs Benedict or, swordfish, grouper, or any one of a hundred other alternatives. If you were to look at the way chickens are raised in America…you very well might throw up. Also, when you look across the table, you see leather belts, suede shoes, pigskin jacket… an alligator purse. These gals know how to dress!
A weird subset of this is the people who’ll have a hamburger or a steak but then rail against someone who’s wearing a mink coat. “Those poor little mink. They’re so CUTE! ” (Not to mention that their fur is simply sublime!) Did you ever look at a picture of a cow? a heifer, a sheep? They have big eyes, long eyelashes and feed their babies lovingly.
Here’s what seems to be going on. The cuter the animal, the safer it is. No one wants to eat a Boston terrier or a Labrador retriever. They are cute! (Except in the Pacific Theater, where they are a delicacy.) But…hey…when you go to brunch on Sunday: how would you like your bacon? Extra crispy? Truth is, pigs are probably as smart as some subsets of humanity. Unfortunately they aren’t very cute…Worse still, they are…tasty! Bacon!
This week, a seriously sad thing happened. Some idiot with a lot of money flew over to Africa, paid a huge sum of money and slipped some people even more money, went out and killed an animal, strapped it to a truck and dragged it around until “Cecil” the lion showed up. At which point, our brave and daring dentist took aim with an incredibly powerful crossbow, took aim and shot Cecil. (By the way, in case you didn’t know, whenever “Great White Hunters” go on safari, they have two locals with heavy artillery should GWH screw up.) Not terribly dangerous when you understand this. Also, for the record, brave intrepid dentist only wounded the lion. The local guys finished him off.
Now……..before you get your ire up about what I’m going to say, understand that I thought…and think that this killing is total bullshit. It’s stupid. It proves nothing about the “heroism” of the man and…it’s just incredibly coarse and idiotic.
Having said that, however, let’s look back at our own (I am completely including myself) utter hypocrisy on the subject. Let’s dig a little deeper. The other night, among the four of us at dinner, we annihilated at least four species. Does the fact that lambs and cows and chickens are more plentiful justify our eating them? I can actually answer that. If you go back in a time machine about 50 years, there would be essentially, not even the blinking of an eye over killing a lion or a water buffalo, a zebra, rhino, or even an elephant. Remember the images of Ernest Hemingway…all the movies about the great white hunters. Fifty years ago…this sort of thing was…..”cool”. The term back then was Macho.
But Henry, you forgot one thing! These creatures are endangered! Yes, some of them are. But do your homework. The elephant is endangered, not because of big game hunters, but because of their ivory. Talk to the fashionistas, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Ana Wintur, Lagerfeld, Karan, and convince them to use ivory-colored resin and the elephants just might survive. And a bit of Naugahyde in those belts, shoes and bags could save millions of animals. No, Naugahyde is not the hide of a dead Nauga.
The rhinos, black rhino in particular, are in hugely serious danger of extinction…not because of big game hunters but because of the mass slaughtering because (you won’t believe this) in Japan and several other countries it’s believed the rhino horn makes them more sexy…more manly. They pay HUGE amounts for what is absolute bullshit. Shark fin soup …same thing. Kill the shark. Cut off a pound of fin and throw the rest overboard. Our bottle-nose dolphins…in many ways smarter and in most ways kinder than mankind….delicious.
As a little kid, I grew up in a different era. It was an era when kids turned 13 and they got a .22 rifle to learn……to become a man. Getting that rifle hardly did that. I was a kid. It was “what kids do” and my arsenal as well as my marksmanship grew. It’s scary what I have in my closet now. You would NOT approve. I don’t approve, but there it is. I learned the hard way.
One day I wounded a groundhog with a .222 Remington with a 3×9 Redfield scope…at 85 yards. Yeah, big game hunter… The groundhogs were messing up the farmer’s field and he paid me to “get rid of them”. Anyway…I wounded that groundhog…raced across the field to “put him out of his misery” and he was panting, bleeding and looking up at me. He kept squealing in pain. I threw down the gun and tried to figure out a way to get him to a vet. He didn’t make it. That…was the end of my hunting.
Soooooo… to steal a lyric from Judy Collins, “I’ve seen the world from both sides now.” And yet, I’ll still order a steak. I’ll order chicken, eggs, bacon…all of the above. I know I’m a hypocrite. But at least I don’t exacerbate my hypocrisy with a huge slathering of righteous indignation.
A gal (Roxane Gay) in the New York Times this morning wrote about Cecil the Lion. On several of the news stations, announcers were crying about the lion getting shot. But then, “In other news….a motorist was shot after being pulled over by a policeman.” The man was black….but then…he was missing the front license plate on his car. He could have been pulled over for a burned-out bulb in his tail light….same degree of culpability. And…he was shot to death. The comments were, “He should have been more friendly to the cop”. To my knowledge, no announcers shed even a single tear for an innocent man being shot to death…for a missing plate.
We are in a weird world now. There are things you and I can actually do. It happens when something in your mind clicks and says, “Enough is enough…”