Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Web of Life

Omnia vivunt, omnia inter se conexa
[Everything is alive; everything is interconnected]

- -Cicero

Ya kill for a little bit of money.

There's more to life than a little money, you know.

Don'tcha know that?

And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day


Lack of awareness of the basic unity
of organism and environment

is a serious and dangerous hallucination

--Alan Watts


We are largely a nation of disconnected, distracted and disaffected individuals. We lack a sense of Other and fail to respect that we are a nation of disparate individuals. It is so simple: The one is part of the whole, and we all have a part to play. The problem is, we are egoistic, and believe we are the center around which it all revolves.

God exists to fulfill our dreams. Prosperity Theology tells us that He wants us flush, and some Christians read Theology of the Body as inducing us to have great rolls in the hay, at God's behest. Many strands of mainstream Christianity are now hawking a "Hot Monogamy" theme. It's all about us, except when it isn't.

There is something beyond all of us, and that is The Other, the Stranger. The Bible commands us to love him
(Deuteronomy 10-19), but most of us find that hard to do. Examples of the difficulty of this endeavor abound, both among our fellow humans and with the other inhabitants of our world.

We seem alienated from animal life unless it exists to amuse, clothe or feed us. Ranger has neighbors in the rural county in which he lives who kill hawks, coyotes, raccoons, opossums and rattlesnakes, and the commercial farmers get special permits to slaughter deer wholesale because they forage the tomatoes they grow. This is especially hideous as tons of tomatoes are scrapped every growing season for being too ripe to ship.

We kill because the little critters are deemed nuisances, or for the sheer pleasure of killing varmints. Like the character Leonard Smalls in the film "Raising Arizona", they are especially hard on the little things. Ground hogs are killed for sport, and African safaris continue to be a draw, though most of the hunts are canned.

Many (illegally) kill Florida panthers for the sport, and though their numbers are being dangerously reduced, bobcats fill in as sport for some lusty deer hunters. Forget slowing down on the highways to protect wildlife -- for many, it is a real-life version of Death Race 2000.

We lack empathy, and fail to examine the most basic of our actions. We have allowed government to commit indecencies and crimes in our name. We invade, topple and kill as easily as if shooting wild boar, ignoring the interconnectedness of all life, both animal and human.

In contrast to his neighbors, Ranger feels privileged to view the wildlife that forage on his property. The occasional red fox is seen, and hawks were never killed, even when they targeted chickens. All life is connected and has purpose.

It is unfortunate when we forget we are all part of this web of life.
The New York Times ran a story on Paris's city bike initiative, reporting that 80% of the Vélib's had been vandalized or stolen, often by disaffected residents (French Ideal of Bicycle-sharing Meets Reality.) Said one Parisian user: “It’s a reflection of the violence of our society and it’s outrageous: the Vélib’ is a public good but there is no civic feeling related to it.”

That is the bottom line: We may not feel kenzoku (blood brother affinity) with many, but we can always have
a civic feeling, a feeling of being a good steward, if societies are to persist in anything other than an Escape From New York sort of way.

"In an unsuccessful effort to stop vandalism, Paris began an advertising campaign this summer. Posters showed a cartoon Vélib’ being roughed up by a thug. The caption read: 'It’s easy to beat up a Vélib’, it can’t defend itself. Vélib’ belongs to you, protect it!'”
But if you don't believe Velib' belongs to you, you will not protect it. You may vandalize and cannibalize it, in order to get your petty share, but in its wholeness and functionality, it means nothing to you.

Life is give and take, and we are all part of the whole. This is something that all men must remember, whatever their country or religion. From killing we may escape and survive, but there must be a place where it is not carried to excess or committed with alacrity.

Too often our lives and wars feature both excessive and frivolous killing, and our disposable society does nothing to dissuade this voraciousness. More for me, and there will always be more.

Until there isn't.

--Lisa and Jim

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Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

sometimes i do wonder at it all. i still hunt. although, being descended from savages and all, i do it with a respect for my quarry, and a reverence for the nature i inhabit and work within.

lately, most of my hunting has been black powder, with flintlocks. this dove season my cousin and i used the single shot breakaway .410's we had used as kids. we still got our limits.

the guys who do the canned shoots, like the "hunt" cheney was on when he shot his lawyer buddy in the face, are an anathema to those of us who still enjoy our time and our place in nature's chain.

even the mormons were failures at civilizing me to the point where i could see the sense, or the fun in that stuff.

i remain a proud, and sometimes even noble, savage.

one of my main points of pride is my son. he has become a professional hunting guide. out in the wild. not on a ranch. when he returns from his trips, he always makes the rounds of the elders on the rez. choicest cuts, the best hides are given away to them. it's an old custom, as old as our people. he hasn't been civilized to the point of gimme gimme greed. he's a fine young man.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 7:05:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Joe said...

What an outstanding post! The real question becomes how can we "fix" society to stop being so individualistic and be more civic?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 9:21:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Jay said...

I like to watch the program "Life
After People" that plays sometimes on the History Channel. I feel a sense of tranquility seeing the depiction of the buildings, roads and dams falling apart and the animals reclaiming the earth.

Really, what good have we done?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 9:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in the thoroughbred business. My wife and breed, train and race these horses. So I gues you could say I one of those who commoditizes (I think that's a word) animals.

However, by the time those horses get to the track they are among my best friends. I was there when they were born; often assisting the process in some way. Before they stand and nurse for the first time, I have breathed in their noses and offered words of encouragement. For the first two years of their lives I handle them on a daily basis. By the time we get them under saddle, I know each and every one as individual sensitive and intelligent living beings with unique personalities. Training is always modified to meet that specific personality. And the horses respond to this. They reciprocate the friendship and we become partners.

There are often many deer on my land; especially in the fall. This is probably at least in part due to not hunting personally or allowing others access to do so. I like venison and each year I say I'm going to hunt, but then I never seem to actually do it. Some year I might.

I'm with Minstrel Boy. What counts is the spirit in which you do these things.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 2:35:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Anon, Horse person .
I understand your position and just yesterday was telling Lisa about birthing a Dummy Foal years ago and the feelings associated with this event.
I quit horses b/c of my back injuries and moving on to other things. But one thing stays with me- animal loving people are good to deal with and to be among.
I used to marvel how my horse would respond to cues so subtle that I wasn't even sure if I sent the cue or if she was reading my mind. This is a connection seldom experienced and savored when it happens. She died 2 years ago and I'll never own another.
My point is that use of animals is legit if there is respect and trust. Killing is needed but should serve a purpose beyond blood lust.
Nice to hear from another horseman.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 11:58:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Killing to live is different than living to kill and you clearly understand this fact.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 11:59:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes, I think it was a mistake coming down from the trees. :^)

Quote from the Matrix:

Agent Smith: I'd like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species, and I realised that humans are not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment; but you humans do not. Instead you multiply, and multiply, until every resource is consumed. The only way for you to survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern... a virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer on this planet, you are a plague, and we... are the cure.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 1:12:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, that anon horse person was me, avedis. I screwed up the google account somehow. Hence the anaon post.

Horseman, eh? I knew I liked something about you from the first post I read here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 6:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Alas, humans oft behave like malicious viruses. Rapacious ones, at that.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 7:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Minstral Boy is also an avid and accomplished horseman.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 7:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

avid, indeed.

although, like ranger, i'm retiring from the ring by degrees. when my body refuses to take me forward anymore, i retreat yet another step.

i spent many happy years, breeding, training and riding my arabs in endurance races all over the west.

to the people who complain about abuses and stuff regarding the horses, i can remember that every single one of the ones i took to a race, understood what was happening, and loved it.

something i really loved was that moment of synergy that takes place when a highly trained endurance stallion realizes that the rider on his back knows the race route, and how far we have to go. that's when i could quit fighting to keep the pace down. the horse would trust me, and on many levels realize that a horse, with a rider, can be a force multiplied.

i had a great t-shirt that a buddy made for me. it showed the ass end of my horse going away at a trot....underneath it said:

if you ain't lead horse
this view won't change.

another classic was:

in the money or
in the hospital.

i quit the racing for good when i just couldn't force myself to diet down to 140 anymore.

that was just in time for my knees to go to shit.

ah well, it was great fun while it lasted.

(note to ranger and all our good friends, homeboy's gonna be off the grid for the better part of a week, gotta a date with my long rifle and some mountain elk...)

Friday, November 6, 2009 at 7:36:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Dear MB,

Have fun, and be safe :)

Friday, November 6, 2009 at 7:46:00 PM GMT-5  

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