VIEWS: 7 PAGES: 41 POSTED ON: 11/16/2011
130,000 Years A robin redbreast in a cage Puts all heaven in a rage. A dove-house fill'd with doves and pigeons Shudders hell thro' all its regions. A dog starv'd at his master's gate Predicts the ruin of the state. A horse misused upon the road Calls to heaven for human blood. Each outcry of the hunted hare A fibre from the brain does tear. A skylark wounded in the wing, A cherubim does cease to sing. The game-cock clipt and arm'd for fight Does the rising sun affright. Every wolf's and lion's howl Raises from hell a human soul. The wild deer, wand'ring here and there, Keeps the human soul from care. The lamb misus'd breeds public strife, And yet forgives the butcher's knife. The bat that flits at close of eve Has left the brain that won't believe. The owl that calls upon the night Speaks the unbeliever's fright. He who shall hurt the little wren Shall never be belov'd by men. He who the ox to wrath has mov'd Shall never be by woman lov'd. The wanton boy that kills the fly Shall feel the spider's enmity. He who torments the chafer's sprite Weaves a bower in endless night. William Blake Auguries of Innocence ‘Perhaps you have noticed how babies, children and those disadvantaged souls of low awareness and intelligence, enjoy and are generally fascinated and engaged by animals, particularly those we call pets? They talk to them, touch and stroke them, and become part of their lives, even immersing and perhaps identifying themselves with the animal's simplistic natures which, being mostly of an unthreatening disposition, reasonably often matches the level of their own intelligence and awareness.’ Preface Perhaps I should apologize for this socially radical document. I did not intend it to be a diatribe, and I have been generously informed that I am not an acrasial author. Nevertheless, I have no doubt this essay will be likened to the labour of Sisyphean, king of Corinth, condemned in the underworld to roll a huge stone to the top of a hill from which it constantly fell back; laborious and fruitless; endless. Reading and re-checking the text, I cannot help but feel it will have as much as an effect than if I were to plea to an army of Islamist militant suicide bombers to, just be nice, do no harm and go home and love your families. My early test readers, upon wading through its content, thought at first it was a parody. Certainly, it can be admitted that a social conscience drives my thoughts...however hopeless my ultimate aim. Upon initial consultation with colleagues and one-time friends, it was suggested that this book be written either carefully or carelessly. There could be no other way. You are welcome to be my judge. It may upset the status quo. I am clear of this possibility. It may inform. It may inflame. It may infuriate. Nevertheless, I am convinced not a single shred of human activity will be altered by its publication. Why then publish? Because I believe that somewhere, out there, there exists a greater good, and trust that although nothing of earthly value will be moderated, our spirituality will benefit merely from its existence. What is it about? There are books on bullying humans. This one is about how we bully animals. It is a slender volume. However, if I were to mention and offer a fuller description of the activities and atrocities, both legal and illegal concerning our morality and immorality concerning any creature not labelled human, this book would be hundreds of times greater in length. Natural Truth is always short. Their fundamental nature can be written on scrapes of paper and placed in matchboxes. What then is this book’s purpose? When I was a child I asked the oddest of questions to the constant irritation of my parents who were not in a position to offer meaningful answers. ‘What is the value of a spider?’ ‘How many insects do blind people eat each year?’ ‘Where was I before I was a baby?’ ‘Why do I feel like this?’ You can imagine the picture. I am convinced my parents must have dreamed of having a child that just asked normal questions such as, ‘what is sex?’ Nevertheless, as a youngster, my mother gently informed me, that reading, like travel, would broaden my mind, and answer all my questions. It is the purpose of words she informed me. However, some sixty years on, there appears to be a niche of people where words do not impact or penetrate. No matter how structured the argument, how well devised and logical, the messages they offer, the knowledge they contain, skim over certain types of people like flat stones across a still pond. The written word has changed communities. Please note, I did not use the noun, civilisation. For many, books are the plough of humanity's social life, enabling both good works and weeds to flourish, feed and entertain us. Rain falls; books grow; yet a not so rural field remains. It is understandable why we pick and choose our knowledge, our seedlings, and our flowers. Some provide much needed nourishment, yet others entertain us with their beauty. Some rare varieties manage both (John Fowles/Michel Faber). Some live for moments (pulp fiction) yet some a lifetime (J. K. Rowling) Or, many lifetimes (Beatrix Potter/Jane Austin) One or two even grow into monoliths spanning the centuries, continuously feeding our hearts and minds (Shakespeare/Homer/Herodotus). We have perhaps noticed the odd corruptible weed solitary struggling to grow, but generally, most publications are life affirming and congenial objects, no more a threat to our sensibilities than unspoken words. Our social conscience sees to that. Those that do attempt to distract and ease us from our paths of compliancy often do so with such tenderness and gentleness as to make their authors seem entirely like placating seraphic gardeners. That will not be my intention here. And for that single reason, it is doubtful that this, ‘unpalatable weed' will flourish except in the mind of its author, and a very few crazed others. Almost certainly, it will never bare any form of sweet fruit, at least not the kind on which my contemporaries and peers might enjoy sucking. For we have here in this volume ladies and gentleman, a hardy variety of heterogeneity, a sub species which many might regard as worse than a bittie weed comprising a noxious pot of potpourri. You may ask; why do I choose to see similarities between plants, and the world of literature and especially books? It is because of their ability to emancipate us. However, beyond the obvious connection that both have a life cycle consistent with each other, being born, bred, cultivated, lost, cut down, used and destroyed, plants have the ability to save us wholly. Words only partly. It had not my intention to write a foul-smelling monocarp. However, this seedling, this book, some may find noxious. Nevertheless, it will be you own thoughts and opinions that will upset, not the innocent words. Some readers will applaud, but many will be appalled. I expect that. Virtually all of you will be accused in some manner, and this is unavoidable considering the way of the world. This book has been many years in development, perhaps decades. I believe it had always been searching for a suitable approach until I realised one morning that one did not exist. I was forced therefore, to carve the approach out myself, and force the discussion. So, what is this book's purpose? It has none. Like the spider, it simply exists. My justification for writing it is not clear, although I do now understand the value of a spider. I trust that you will appreciate my unashamedly honest way of tackling this quite serious topic. It is not my intention to appear preachy. I understand we live in the real world, but real life occasionally means we have to compromise our ideals. I admit; I am an idealist, yet I do not look down upon those whose life choices deviate from what is considered to be the high moral ground. My wish is too lead souls to water. It will be up to you to drink. Despite this early negativism, I close ultimately with a message of hope. You will find certain words and phases used repetitively. I choose this manner of expression for I respect their importance and competency. Many may question my bias. Some may consider me insane, naive and even half-witted. Others, possessing a less charitable nature, may organise Heaven and Hell against me, as if I am some distinct agent of the Devil come to wreak havoc amongst the world. But I maintain that Hell is already here and living amongst us quite quietly. ONE ‘I feel little but contempt for the actions of ancient, so called, 'civilisations’ One The genesis of my thoughts concerns bullying, and that will, to those of a more discerning nature, answer any question of bias. School for our young in any time period has always been riddled with the uncertainty of ones peers, but it is only within the last two decades that serious attempts been made to tackle this form of persecution. Our place of work too is another environment where the oppressor and the tyrant can make day-to-day living a thoroughly miserable experience. Let us be clear; bullies are thugs. They are concerned with their own pleasure. They both want and need power over others, and they are willing to use and abuse other people, animals and situations to achieve satisfaction. By definition, they find it hard to understand another's perspective. This is childlike and egocentric behaviour. The behaviour of the immature. I dare not, and will not offer reliable statistics. The World Wide Web carries more up to date information than I could ever hope to impart, but the problem is gigantic with, in the worse case scenarios, suicide rates escalating worldwide. Child lines and advice lines have never been busier...and needed. Explanations absolving the inner personality of the bully are many and varied, but that will not concern us here. For what one person may consider someone’s personality unnerving, another may experience no such emotion. Classifying the personality of the serial, or even the occasional bully into a well-defined arena is a helpful course of action. Nevertheless, I put forward the case that that this step is only the beginning. Professionals who study this sort of thing are convinced that two forms of bullies exist. Physical bullies are more obvious, yet the psychological ones act discreetly, and are equally damaging. An example of a physical bully occurs on our roads. Speeding and tailgating are just two tactics of the selfish intimidator. Two situations amongst many serious traffic violations that are reported each day. However, after every incident has been labelled and itemised, we are left with the fundamental impression that bullying is about dominance; a queer need to control and have authority over others. This diffidence happens within the mind of the bully. Therefore, by the very nature of this argument, bullying can occur on many levels, and this aggressive behaviour cuts across countries, creeds and religions. I have to acknowledge our history, and our pre-history and the steps we have chosen which has brought us to this point in our evolution. However, to bring matters into the open, where they can be compared and judged, I refer now to the keeping and breeding of domestic animals for pleasure and profit. By using this example we can distance ourselves from the bullying issue without prejudice. However the matter still provides a strong magnifying glass into the way we exist. Furthermore, it will be clear that the way we treat animals will be a perfect reflection on the way we treat each other. How could it not be? The more they are placed under the glass, the more is revealed about us. Perhaps you may now begin to understand why these words will do little to stave off the hoards of frightened ruffians who are too set in their ways to change. Perhaps though, just perhaps, a trickle may be able to see through their own deficiencies, scars and problems and look with new eyes at what is to come. If we can understand new vistas with horizons so far distant from the ones we currently possess, then perhaps we will be able to comprehend how difficult it currently is for people who do not have the vision or courage to alter their behaviour. My imagination, when it comes to bullying, goes far beyond the usual resources about which we have become accustomed to reading, as dreadful and as tragic as all of those common circumstances may be. Let us be clear once again; bullies are those who are concerned with their own pleasure. They want and need power over other people. They are willing to use and abuse other human beings to achieve their aims. Therefore, to begin. In order to gently immerse ourselves into this new fiery environment, let us add a caveat. Within the terms of bullying, let us substitute the label 'animal' for 'human' so that the example is clear. Here are some reasons we might do that. 1. Have you ever witnessed a person yank at a dog's collar to subjugate it? Or seen a pet cower in fear? 2. Have you seen a bird fluttering uselessly in a cage? Or seen a large and confined animal pace back and forth? 3. Have you ever ridden a horse, pony, mule, camel or elephant? 4. Have you ever eaten animal flesh? 5. Have you ever yelled at an animal? Or hit one? Or kicked one? Or killed one? (And not eaten it) 6. Have you ever placed a bet on a horse, dog or any other type of living creature? 7. Have you ever visited a zoo or Wildlife Park or a place like SeaWorld? 8. Have you ever kept a dog, cat, rabbit, fish, reptile, insect or any other life form as a pet? 9. Have you ever visited a circus or an aquarium, or do you yourself have an aquarium? Of course you have! We all have. Its part of who and what we are, living as we do in this time and place. Most domesticated animals are thought of as little less than moving furniture. Yet are furthermore treated like criminals. We lock them away when we feel the need, and control their every movement and motion. They are brought and sold at the slightest whim. They are items kept for amusement or companionship. Let us continue further into the dark. 1. Have you ever paid to see a bullfight? (tauromaquia) 2. Taken part in a fox hunt? 3. Do you fish for pleasure? Are you an angler? 4. Taken part in a dog fashion show? 5. Have you hunted with dogs? 6. Have you taken part in hare coursing? 7. Have you practiced falconry or enjoyed watching trained birds hunt? 8. Taken part in a pheasant shoot? 9. Visited a rodeo? 10. Been involved in pigeon racing? If you live in the countryside and in the UK, then concerning the fox issue, up to February 18, 2005, the activity of fox hunting may have seemed attractive to you. Perhaps it still does. Fishing for relaxing purposes, particularly for men, may seem an inviting activity in which to take part, and even one which appears normal. Certainly an activity that may seem to fall into the realm of the commonplace. However, it is that very impression of normality that I am aware to be the knife that is stabbing us in our own backs. And not only physically with regard to our own health, but also to the relationships we forge with each other. In the fifteenth century, the people of England believed it was quite acceptable to chain bears to a wooden post, and set large fighting dogs against it until it bled to death. Besides asserting that the meat tasted better, it was considered entertainment. How many of you reading this still hold that view? However, despite the hundreds of years which have passed, this very same unimaginative and singularly barbaric mental altitude exists in the same form the way some people view fishing and horse-racing today. Some may comment that it is not the same, but where it counts, where it originates, in the mysterious mind, it is the same. Disrespect and disregard, cruelty and bloodthirstiness originate from the same place. Some may squirm and writhe at this accusation, this suggestion; this association of events and topics, but a death for amusement, is a death for amusement, is a death for amusement. How you take what is being offered here depends, of course, upon your personality, your point of view, your humanity and the level of respect you show for all life. Not just human life, but life of any kind. The world will offer you up-to-date exam results on your personality should you wish to view them if you simply examine your actions, your desires, your needs and the things you feel compelled to do. Let us walk further on... and into the darkest part of the cave. 1. Have you ever seen bear (cynartomachy), badger and bull baiting? 2. Have you ever-witnessed organised dog fighting? Or perhaps cock fighting? (alectryomachy) 3. Have you ever participated in, 'throwing at cocks?' 4. Have you ever been on safari with an aim to shoot animals such as elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, baboon and cheetah? And then bring the animal home as a trophy to hang on the wall? 5. Have you ever shot a partridge? 6. Have you ever been involved in hunting hart (a stag more than seven years old), a wolf or the wild boar? Or buck, doe, fox, the martin or the roe? How about the badger, the wild-cat and the otter? What about the reindeer, the cat and the elk? Why stop there? How about the grey, the weasel, the squirrel, the white rat, the stoat and the polecat? Or just plain wild boar? The last wolf was killed in 1770 in the UK, so you would not have seen one in its natural habitat in this country, but it is understood the practise of killing them still occurs in countries that are not as morally advanced as the UK. The Humane Act of 1835 brought many of these ancient and indecent traditions and customs to a shuddering halt. Because it can take generations for human beings to change some of their perceptions, we can take it as certain that many citizens of the time probably wholly disagreed with the government's legislation. And probably none more so than those who earned a living from practicing that the Act forbad. But those people survived. They moved on. At least the ones with any sense. Our government, in its present mature form has been around for over a thousand years, and because it does not deal with individuality, it has had the experience, and has the wisdom to know that behaviour becomes modified over time. And moreover that the population have short memories. It understands that people resist change, and it knows they will complain, but it also comprehends how single men or small groups can do very little about it. Since 1949 when two private member's bills to ban, or restrict, hunting with dogs failed to make it onto the statute books, it took until February 18, 2005, some fifty-five years later until The Hunting Act 2004 was passed. As controversial as the passing of that Act was, within a short number of decades, and with the old enthusiasts dying, and their grandchildren growing up not taking part in such activates, the hunt and its archaic memories will fade. How many old people do you know who still talk about when their own grandfathers used to complain about The Humane Act of 1835? I would guess none. The animal activists need do nothing. We need not fear the government will repeal the Hunting Act for it was a responsible decision, meant to enhance the lives for the majority. Time will take away those responsible for fox hunting, and they will be eventually be forgotten just as we have forgotten the names of those who bated bears. In general, we favour those who add beauty and protection to our society, not those who kill and maim. Especially for fun. When the Conservative government under Benjamin Disraeli took it upon itself to deny the greater public access to public executions in May 1869, a great sense of ill feeling and resentment was generated. Partly, no doubt for the revenue the, ‘hanging days’ generated (because of the sensational amount of crowds generated) but the need to satisfy an ancient bloodlust was, we can have no doubt about it, also a mighty factor. However, how many today clamour for the, ‘good old days’ when up to 20,000 people could witness, even children gasping for their last breath as they pointlessly struggled and fought to live whilst roped and blindfolded? Very few I would imagine. At least here in the UK. The youngest children ever hung in Britain were Michael Hammond and his sister, Ann, whose ages were given as seven and eleven respectively. They were hanged at Kings Lynn on 28 September 1708 for theft. The corruptible mentality continues today of course bolstered up by reality shows where crowds abuse solitary ‘victims’, but the desire for real bloodshed is not entirely diminished. There are companies and individuals, acting irresponsibly, and most probably illegally, who make money selling films of death scenes. Beheadings, shootings and hangings appeal to the barbaric just as much today as they have in the past. When a certain African government recently advertised for an executioner, over 200 people applied, some from the UK, and some were women. Naturally, whatever is good enough for men is certainly good enough for animals. Cockfighting in Cumberland is still known to exist. (2007) At the beginning of this book I wrote that I would not be mentioning any or all of the evil acts in which human beings take part, but here I will make an exception; Live quail shooting. For sheer barbarity, unpleasantness and repugnant value, this is hard to beat. This inclusion is taken from FAACE, a UK based organisation, that campaigns to stop the torture and death of animals for entertainment. We should not be surprised that the report originates from Spain. This practise involves factory-bred quail chicks that are used as clay pigeons. This type of activity, known as Tirada de Cordoniz, takes place regularly. Eighteen crates, each containing thirty quail chicks, are removed from broiler sheds and taken to a purpose built arena. The ‘tournament’ is open to anyone prepared to pay twelve Euros or about 15 US dollars, to shoot at ten birds. The birds are stuffed alive into the barrel of an adapted clay pigeon launcher, and blasted into the air. Some chicks are shattered as they leave the spring-loaded launcher. Those that managed to survive, flail helplessly in the sky before being shot down by large calibre shotguns. Some tiny birds are always still alive after this barrage and lay fluttering. A few hop through the bodies of their companions trying to escape. The netting around the area that allows no exit frustrates their desperate attempts to escape. Yet as they walk, more shot rips their bodies to shreds. These escapees are the subjects of much laughter and joking. The pace is non-stop. At the end of the massacre a few hundred bodies lie scattered like little grey stones across the killing arena. A prize giving is held, with plastic trophies plus Euros awarded to the shooter with the highest tally of hits. Afterwards amidst the picking up of beer cans and general tidying, the bodies are scooped up by various men and flung into boxes and carrier bags to be taken off and eaten. Any survivor hidden behind the bodies of its companions or tucked away in a corner are stamped on or flung into the bags to suffocate amongst the corpses. However, to return to the fundamentals of people enjoying people and animals in pain. The human race being so diverse, will always toss up an atavist of course, and we can only hope that these ‘throw-backs’ will eventually be caught, and properly punished by their own misdirected passion. However, we can rest assured that for many, this curious need to see people tortured and killed has now buried itself deeply into our collective unconsciousness even though many harmless people still find it a fascinating subject. We are surely at fault when we assume we are the only form of life, which can be aware of our own mortality. As we become aware of the news today and witness the now powerless hoards of ‘red-coated devils’ still attempting to ride to hounds, with the aim of extinguishing the life of one small red- coated creature in the most repellent fashion, it is with a profound sense of relief we realise that the general public's memory and desire of those events will eventually erase and extinguish themselves as I have mentioned as much as it has for the above listed blood sports and public executions. As mentioned, the populace has rather a short memory as long as there is another simple diversion to be enjoyed just around the corner. But I am no ‘creature cuddlier’. I derive no emotional fulfilment in the friendship or companionship of animals of any description. Nevertheless, everything lives at the expense of other creatures. In Chief Seattle's words: ‘What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts soon happens to man. All things are connected’. Even our own decay is brought about by other organisms. We must be honest. Our race is still immature. Intellectually, we sit atop of an irrepressible, evolutionary, dynamic pyramid of life. Each competing for the next meal. It is only right and proper that the most specialised succeed and develop. There is a Zen to the process, and of course there is no doubt that human beings, with our intelligence and advanced sense of self consciousness, are more than equipped to succeed than any other animal. Social or solitary. However, we will not arrive to where we are supposed to go in evolutionary terms unless we give up our past. And here we immediately arrive at an impasse, for how can we rise above our animal ancestry while we still need them? I believe that is a good question. TWO The use and misuse of animals since we evolved and stood upright has developed by way of a clearly defined path. The first nexus was food. In the beginning our societies were composed of hunter-gatherers. In anthropological terms, a predominant method of subsistence involves the eating of edible plants and animals as nature supplied them using foraging and hunting. At that time there was no recourse to either agriculture or domestication. The second link is agriculture. Which began in the Neolithic period, about 12,000 years ago, and continues up to the present, clearly demonstrating our ability to manipulate the greater world around us. No doubt, this on-going process will continue with ever-greater intensity although recently (geologically speaking), nature is offering us signals, clearly in the form of global warning, that what we are doing, and the inclinations we are following are perhaps not the best of directions. The line between agricultural and hunter-gatherer societies was never clear. Many hunter-gatherers used to consciously manipulate the landscape through cutting or burning undesirable plants while encouraging desirable ones, some even creating an improved habitat for game animals. Some tribal agriculturalists even nowadays also hunt and gather, extending their farming during the frost-free season and hunting during the winter. As our societies became agrarian, dense and ever more sophisticated, it is not difficult at all to understand, with the ever present threat of invasion and death from unknown peoples, why clans and tribes formed. The first display of cruelty with malice against an animal is unrecorded, the first deliberate infliction of pain and suffering without nourishment. Perhaps it was simple use of association; a death for a death, performed in some antediluvian rite. Alternatively, perhaps it was an extension of the same reason domesticated cats torment any prey they manage to catch; to hone and perfect the necessary killing skills. I find it telling though that nowadays, in our Western, high-tech and commercial world, that the ancient bloodlust still exists. This inner need to kill living creatures just for the merriment of it. In this way, we are certainly different to the rest of the animal kingdom. We do not eat foxes. Not any more anyway. Killing foxes with hounds is really a form of premeditated prevention...with joy. Clans became tribes and tribes became empires. Killing, the actual extinguishing of the mysterious entity called life, was exercised by royalty to impress and keep order and power. The more he (or she) held the power of life and death, the more potent and Herculean they seemed to be. One only has to read about the use of animals in the Roman arenas as an infamous, objectionable and hideous example. The Roman Emperor Trajan gave one set of games that lasted 122 days during which eleven thousand people and ten thousand animals were killed. Titus had five thousand wild animals and four thousand domestic animals killed during his one hundred day show to celebrate the opening of the Coliseum for instance. I cannot begin to imagine how those ancient people dealt with the amount of blood that was spilled. They must have been wading through it. In 249 A.D., Philip celebrated the one thousandth anniversary of the founding of Rome by organising games in which the following were killed: one thousand pairs of gladiators, thirty-two elephants, ten tigers, sixty lions, thirty leopards, ten hyenas, ten giraffes, twenty wild asses, forty wild horses, ten zebras, six hippos and one rhino. The organisation these men needed to find and catch these exotic, unpredictable and dangerous animals, and then to convey them back to their homelands must have been colossal. How much the lives of everyone could have been changed if the same amount of attention and energy had been paid to improving human life. However, none of those societies at the time were ready for that direction. Thank goodness that we are now. May I direct you back to the quote at the beginning of chapter one? I do not consider these organisations, societies and governments civilised. (I refuse to dignify them with the word civilisation) That word implies a quality of excellence in thought, manners and taste. Mayan and Egyptian social groups were equal in barbarism in the ancient world as much as Nazis. It must be remembered that all of them dealt in human slavery. Let us not get caught up in their positive achievements like being able to build large structures and long straight roads. These people were cruel and barbaric, and life for almost everyone was hard and short. I regret the romanticism reserved for these uncivilised and unsophisticated cultures. I make no apologies for finding people more important than buildings, roads, democracy, laws or science. It is one of our unfortunate truths though that we have had to travel through those barbaric stages in order to reach where we are now, and over the long term, allowing for hiccups in behaviour, the future can only hold better consequences for us all. And that includes our relationship with the rest of the animal kingdom. Our main difficulty will be learning to remain part of nature, but at the same time realising that we are quite different and separate. At the moment though, man's personal continuing domination over the natural world has changed little since the wickedness of those earlier savage and brutal times. For although jurisprudence has changed a great deal, in the hearts and minds of many uncultured people, little has unfortunately changed. If we log on to the Web and type a few chosen words into a search engine, within seconds, we will be treated to the foulest of stories concerning the ill treatment of every living thing. The only animal, which escapes this human terror, is the one we have not yet discovered. As mentioned, it is clear that many humans are still involved in behaviours that are unsettling, disturbing and occasionally even horrific. I would be the first to admit that eliminating these grossly offensive acts to decency or morality may take several hundred years. If not thousands. So what I am proposing may seem impossible. THREE I delight in the simplicity of what I see. From my kitchen window I never tire of how astonished I feel as grass grows back again and again after our communal gardener spends an hour mowing it. No matter how many times he cuts it, year in and year out, back it grows with a never-ending regularity. I am witness to a struggle for something to continue itself. No different in that regard to us. What a gift. As I mentioned before, that really is the Zen of things. Life is an unvarying struggle. So although it may seem that I am trashing people for their destructive and upsetting habits, if we take an overview of any situation, there can be no blame, no incrimination, no fault-finding. People do what they do. If we stepped back far enough, everything would appear normal. However, who among us can act with such nobility? Perhaps the guru who has spent forty years isolated from the majority of the population? Or the priest or nun who has dedicated his or her life to God and good works? Many of us, given the time, might realise that there is probably a higher ‘stage or setting’ to the one we are currently enjoying...or not enjoying. I currently believe as well that a universal heightening of the human spirit would not do us any harm at all. I do claim though that animals are equal in status to humans. It is my prerogative to believe that. I do not make the statement because I believe animals to be equal in everything, and that includes the high level of consciousness we enjoy of course. I do not believe they are of equal intelligence either in as much as I know we are not equal in speed and strength of some of them. All living things have value and achievements over other things. I state the obvious of course, but I do so with an aim of clarifying my position so that what follows will not be taken out of context. What I am convinced of also has nothing to do with what is outside of my thoughts either. Many of us are meat-eaters. We are part of the whole, the struggle, and most have no problem in defining our roles in the greater scheme of things. The way the world performs, it is the strong that seeks to destroy, consume, devour and control the weak. And there is nothing inherently wrong in that. That's the way this place has developed. Many humans though have made the conscious decision to bypass those impulses and understand that plants are all we need to supply all our nutritional needs, and I say, good for them, those ‘veggies’. Perhaps I will be able to achieve such complete and wholehearted fidelity one day, for, without doubt, and as 'Zen' as the our world is, the actual event of killing a living creature for nourishment can only be a noxious process. To end any life is crushing and sorrowful. And one that many continue to believe, belongs to those of a certain social class in as much as, to use an up-to-date metaphor, smokers and users of drugs and alcohol belong to another. As criminals do to another. Moreover, on that note; I may mention the following statistics. Cruelty through farming. An estimated three million piglets, two million lambs and a million calves die unnecessarily each year. On farms therefore, about 16,000 large animals die unnecessarily each day. Does this brief dip into animal hell take us away from bullying? I believe not. Perhaps some dictionary descriptions may assist us. Pet: An animal kept for companionship or amusement. Zoo: A facility where wild animals are housed for exhibition and amusement. Bullying: To discourage or frighten with threats of a domineering manner. To intimidate. The act of intimidating a weaker person to make them do something. To control. To dominate. Italics are mine. Our source here connotes that we cannot bully, control, dominate or intimidate an animal. This, many would take umbrage to, and is clearly incorrect. Bullying and controlling is the same whether applied to a human or an animal because it originates and stays within the mind of the bully. To quote from, A Course In Miracles, ‘thoughts do not travel from their source’. All relationships between human and domesticated and wild animals are based on power, control and domination. There will be no prizes for guessing which way the entropy flows. Or for perhaps my next collection of targets as my moral compass expands. Truly though, in the panorama of human activities, what we do with the status of our earthy companions is hardly bearable to think about. I arrive now at the detestable subject of pets. It cannot be denied of course that many of us think a great deal of our domesticated animals, and probably all would disagree with the opinion that they control, dominate, restrain, command, curb and moderate. As they do with their human children if they are decent parents. But the plain fact is, concerning animals that have been bred by us for thousands of years like dogs and cats, controlling and training occupy a greater part of our relationship with them in order that they do and act, exactly what and how we wish them to act. We use the lead, the yell, the smack, the jerk and the use of food to train and enforce our dominance over them. We organise their short lives, we train them when to urinate and defecate, we coordinate their exercise and feeding times, we stipulate their comfort and punishment and eventually, if they live long enough, we order and arrange their deaths. This domestication has been speculated about for many years. It was thought until very recently that dogs were wild until about 13,000 years ago. But DNA analysis by molecular dating methods published recently suggests a date of about 130,000 years ago for the transformation of wolves to dogs may well be a truer date. This means that wolves began to adapt to human societies long before humans settled down and began practicing agriculture. This speculation also casts doubts on the excepted thought that humans domesticated dogs to serve as companions. Rather, it is now thought by some, that dogs may have exploited a niche they discovered in early human society, and got humans to look after them. However... Now we have humanised them. We make coats for them. We use them as toys. We tag them. We enter them into competitions. We put them on leads. We name them. We use them. Is that honourable? Here is an important question over which we can ponder. Can that same state of mind, which demeans animals lead to quality behaviour and improved relations between ourselves? Removing our dependence on animals that have been bred for domestic purposes would be an excellent place to begin the process of clearing up issues we have with each other. To those who do not fully understand this connection; control and bullying is control and bullying whatever way we look at it. The same mind that shouts or injures an animal is equally capable of shouting or injuring a human because the threat occurs from within the bully. The time has come to amplify on the catalyst that was mentioned in the preface. The activator of this book. I have a dear friend who has such a high regard for life that it is with the greatest difficulty that I can write anything derogatory about him. But let me begin noting his positive qualities. He is a vegan. He is magnanimous. He is one of life's greatest givers. He is, I used to clearly announce to other friends who had never been fortunate enough to meet him, that he was the closest thing to God on legs that I have ever been fortunate enough to know. But, through time, moving homes and circumstances of family bereavement on both sides, we lost contact for a full five years. My destiny was travelling off in its own usual wayward way but we, by a happy happenstance, met once again as perhaps I always thought we might. However, during those long years my own perception had increased and distended itself until where, unfortunately, one evening at dinner, instead of enjoying my friend's company and his wisdom, all I could do was watch in wide-eyed astonishment at how he treated his dog. If it moved from its position on the floor, it was, ‘down dog’. If it even slightly whimpered that it wanted to go out, it was ‘No dog. Later’. There was no doubt that my friend cared a great deal about this animal, but it was quite frankly, rather sickening how much control he exercised over it in the false name of love. Much as another friend of mine had her cats spayed or neutered. For those who do not keep animals, that means removing their reproductive organs, and male dogs and cats are neutered by removing their testicles. As a badge of authority and a demonstration of almost ultimate bullying, how could we improve on that? Therefore, that was the specific circumstance that initiated this book. That was the event that took a series of disconnected and haphazard thoughts and turned it into what it is becoming. Perhaps my friend was more spiritually advanced than I thought. Here are some special thoughts from The Humane Society of the United States. My comments are in italics and bold. 1 Spaying and neutering helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives. Why do humans wish to improve on the creator's handiwork? This is nothing but an exhibition of gross arrogance and pride on the part of the demented and diffident. 2. Spaying and neutering can eliminate or reduce the incidence of a number of health problems that can be very difficult or expensive to treat. If you loved something enough, like a child, it would not be thought of as expensive or difficult. 3. Spaying eliminates the possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the incidence of breast cancer, particularly when your pet is spayed before her first estrous cycle. Why do humans feel the need to transform the experiences of another life form? If they cared that much for animals then why are the population levels of hundreds of thousands of species not classified as pets heading dangerously for extinction? Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If present trends continue one half of all species of life on earth will be extinct in less than 100 years as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change. 4. Neutering eliminates testicular cancer and decreases the incidence of prostate disease. As above but hey! Why not neuter men after a certain age if that is such a wonderful and efficient way of controlling certain types of cancer. If it's good enough for animals... 5. Spaying or Neutering Is Good for You. An animal then is a product, a machine, a plaything, nothing more. An item humans can order, alter and then dispose of when their usefulness has run its course. 6. Spaying and neutering makes pets better, more affectionate companions. Better? What does that mean in relation to the animal? Again, modifying a living thing to please an under- developed ego. 7. Neutering cats makes them less likely to spray and mark territory. Why should any human soul wish to stop another life form from doing that which it is designed to do? 10. Spaying a dog or cat eliminates her heat cycle. Estrus lasts an average of six to 12 days, often twice a year, in dogs, and an average of six to seven days, three or more times a year, in cats. Females in heat can cry incessantly, show nervous behaviour, and attract unwanted male animals. As above. 11. Unsterilised animals often exhibit more behaviour and temperament problems than do those who have been spayed or neutered. As above. 'Let us control nature as much as possible because we think we know best'. 12. Spaying and neutering can make pets less likely to bite. As above. 13. Spaying and neutering makes pets less likely to roam the neighbourhood, run away, or fight. As above. 14. Spaying, neutering and pampering are good for the Community. It provides jobs and an income for vets and ‘pet parlours’. As usual, we find this is not about pets; it is about the humans under which they are forced to live. And another exploitation of yet another resource. 15. Communities spend millions of dollars to control unwanted animals. As above. 16. Irresponsible breeding contributes to the problem of dog bites and attacks. As above. 17. Animal shelters are overburdened with surplus animals. As above. 18. Stray pets and homeless animals get into trash containers, defecate in public areas or on private lawns, and frighten or anger people who have no understanding of their misery or needs. As above. 19. Some stray animals also scare away or kill birds and wildlife. As above. You will notice that there are plenty of references to 'as above'. This is because the arguments for keeping wild animals as pets are extremely limited. Yes, wild animals. By the way, as an aside, should you wish to see what is under the very thin psyche or ‘personality’ of any domesticated animal then simply stop feeding it. Then you will see how much it, ‘loves’ you. Moving away from the Zen position, because very few of us are capable of spending forty minutes on our own let alone forty years, the idea is negative, and therefore harmful. To those who think I am brainsick and dangerous, I offer the following. Humans who keep pets for amusement and companionship enjoy the same mind-set that is changing our planet. They do not occupy themselves with the same actions of course, but it falls within the same sphere of activity. Which is, believing that the earth is our playground, and that the life forms which occupy this space with us should be dominated and controlled. Spayed and neutered. Yes, I feel I am nailing my colours to the mast now. Quite the actions of the insane. I will agree that I am dangerous though. People who care normally are. Continuing. Naturally I would not be doing my literary duty if I did not mention the unnatural practice of beautifying dogs. I almost become lost for words on this subject, for I find the process sickening, distasteful, revolting, repugnant and so utterly unnatural. There are unfortunately more products available in the marketplace than there are synonyms to describe them and what they are for. There are products to bush their teeth, pyjamas, coats, collars, leads, dark glasses, designer shades(!), tags, non-slip dog food mats, lifejackets, weekender travel bags, snowsuits, dog ramps, thermal dog cushions, a dog sitters handbook, an ultrasonic pet trainer, bean beds, duvets, throws and blankets, mats and other bedding, rigid dog beds, soft dog beds, vetbeds, flecta beds... And for cats...no, I won't subject you to it. Humans make money from animals. Humans make money from the care of animals. Humans make money from the exploitation of animals. Humans make money providing food for animals. For getting rid of their waste. For naming them. For curing them. For killing them. For burying them. Animals who are loved are profitable financially for business, or for emotional reasons by the person who thinks they are in control of them. Those that are not are quickly disposed. Those that become unmanageable are disposed not so discreetly. Those who do not live up to our expectations, whatever they may be, perhaps not cute/bouncy/colourful/big/small et cetera, et cetera are disposed. Canis lupus familiaris, the common dog, we have made into particularly pathetic creatures. Like humans, they are highly social animals, and this similarity in their overall behavioural pattern accounts for their trainability, playfulness, and ability to fit into human households and social situations. This similarity has earned dogs a unique position in the realm of interspecies relationships. The loyalty and devotion that dogs demonstrate as part of their natural instincts as pack animals closely mimics the human idea of love, leading many dog owners to view these animals as full fledged family members. Engendered, we bred them for control, size and temperament. The evolution of the dog is certainly interesting, and we can trace their ancestry back to a five-toed, weasel like animal called Miacis, which lived in the Eocene epoch about 40 million years ago. This animal was the forebear of the cat, raccoon, bear, hyena, and civet, as well as of the wolf, fox, jackal, and dog. From Miacis, next in the evolutionary line was an Oligocene animal called Cynodictis, which somewhat resembled the modern dog. Cynodictis lived about 20 million years ago. Next in line was the extremely doglike animal called Tomarctus, which lived about 10 million years ago during the late Miocene epoch. Tomarctus probably developed the strong social instincts that still prevail in the dog and most of its close relatives. Members of the genus Canis, which includes the dog, wolf, and jackal developed into their present form about a million years ago during the Pleistocene epoch. But then their natural world combined with ours, and they were given names, taught to be obedient and do tricks. Nowadays they are dressed, dyed, groomed, pampered and massaged. We insult their sacred wildness and credibleness by dressing them up in the mannerisms of humans and photographing them in idiotic poses for greeting cards. And it is important to remember the anal sacs. What are anal sacs? They are two small glands just inside a dog or a cat's anus. The material secreted into these glands is thick and foul smelling. Most animals can empty these glands voluntarily for scent marking or in self defence (as a skunk does). However, domestic animals have largely lost their ability to empty these sacs voluntarily. Walking around and normal defecation serves to empty the glands, but some animals become unable to empty their glands on their own at all. The sacs become impacted and uncomfortable. Dogs with impacted anal sacs usually scoot their rear on the ground in an attempt to empty the glands. Some dogs will lick their anal area and other dogs will chase their tails. Cats often lick the fur off just under their tails. I am certainly not against some of the symbiotic relationships that have evolved between men and beasts such as police, search and rescue and other forms of sniffer dogs. Their extraordinary sense of smell is unique, and we do not have to technology to mimic these. Other creatures manipulate animals, therefore I do not have any difficulty with this concept. However, I do have more to say about this point later. Sheep dogs and Seeing Eye dogs too have their place, and I understand there are dogs who are so sensitive that they can foretell when a person is going to have a seizure, an epileptic fit or when their blood sugar levels are low. Until we gain the knowledge of how to achieve this with the same degree of sophistication, again, I see no problem in learning to live in harmony with these animals. Other animals, even the lowly ant, has learned to live in propinquity with aphids whose abdomen they stroke to release a sweet liquid called honeydew. Some ants even move aphid nymphs to new plants, and into their own nests during bad weather, and they assiduously guard their aphid cows from their natural enemies. There are examples of animals of different species living in beneficial relationships to each other all over the planet from the great plains of Africa to deep in the sea so I have no dilemma with this situation; animals which live in harmony with each other for mutual purposes. However, that is not what the substance of this book is about. I believe it is important to ask why humans choose to create children (as opposed to animals who are driven by blind instinct over which they have no control) Do we do it for the child's sake? When we make love? To give an unknown and, at the time, a non-entity, a life? Or is it for hedonistic means? Or for reasons other than true altruism? Do we do it to please others? For our own future's security? To show our peers how potent we are? For companionship or amusement? To ease the pain of aloneness, of solitude? All or many reasons for which most people do not have a problem. However, I mention this because I am concerned over the question of destiny. A person, too bonded with their mother or father, to the extent of not being able to leave the nest, is truly a stunted person. They are on a leash just as real as any captive dog or emasculated cat. And imprisoned like any caged bird. We may well ask at this point where does our natural sense of compassion and curiosity come into play? The answer to that question may be complicated for some. Children are naturally curious and learn quickly that they can destroy what they do not like. But can we allow a child's perception to dictate how we make choices once we have developed into maturity? And who among us can pass by the wounded, the flailing and the dying animal without compassion of a sort arising in us? Certainly, to heal an animal is to take charge of it, to confine it. Because we know what is in its best interests. No one end of the vast spectrum of human understanding works completely well in this discussion. Becoming sensitive to the inherent value of an animal in terms of its existence and balancing that ideal with our natural ability to interfere, needs constant readjustment with emphasis given over to the welfare of whatever we are attempting to help. I myself would advise an approach with no hard edges. What is commonly being referred to as the middle way. A way to satisfy our unique sense of compassion yet a way in which the contentment of the creature is untouched. It is not an easy road, but not taking it means we, collectively will eventually have to pay the price. FOUR This is a book of stages, and we have arrived at an age of compassion for animals. Before two to three hundred years ago it may have been given some thought, but the subject would never have been written about. Animals were regarded as dumb creatures that served mankind just as human slaves were regarded as necessary to serve those that ‘owned’ them. Animals never went to heaven. They didn't have a soul. They never felt pain and if they did, well, it was just an animal. Any expressed thoughts of equality or rights for them would surely have been greeted with a huge round of great merriment, and the speaker probably would have been regarded as a simple-minded idiot and probably put in the stocks, themselves to be made the subject of sadistic entertainment. Human societies in the past without exception were cruel and barbaric. Most still are in one form or another. Then came legislation in all its many forms and now, today, for the majority of us at least, any of the activities mentioned earlier such as dog and cock fighting, bear baiting and killing large game for pleasure (I cannot and will not dignify the activity with the word sport) have become abhorrent to many of us. That some activities like dog fighting still occurs in parts of the world, even in so called civilised countries like the USA, in the twenty first century is an indication of how deep this self-conditioning behaviour runs. (We have perhaps 130,000 years of conditioning to overcome) Of course there will always be those feeble-minded, and it has to be offered up for conjecture, possible psychotic to a degree, weak and helpless individuals, mostly, it needs to be mentioned, middle- aged men who will always feel the need to justify their frail and powerless personalities by killing those less able to defend themselves be it a tiger, an elephant or even a cold-water fish. We have all met these singular people. Remember them from the playground of our youths? Or from the last car journey you took? However, just as much as what we consider to be satisfactory and endorse today, will, in all likelihood be put to a moral test tomorrow. An activity like fox hunting, of which many people in the early part of the twentieth century approved, one hundred years later has now been rejected and disapproved of by millions. Enough to force the government of the time to act. Perhaps in another one hundred years time, fishing for pleasure will be as regarded with the same amount of repulsion as we now view bear baiting. Imagine that. Perhaps, dog and horse racing will also be banned, at last, out of sheer cruelty. Although I myself think it may take more than that amount of time for that to happen given that our own Royal family is so enwrapped in the divinity of it. But make no mistake, their world of cruelty, control and domination is becoming ever smaller, and this many recognise. Acting themselves like cornered and fearful animals, their time will eventually run out as decency and a better face of humanity emerges and prevails. However, back in the present, let me tell you that horses regularly die at race meetings and despite the 1911 Protection of Animals Act, a statute that is intended to protect animals from ‘unnecessary suffering’, little is done and these beautiful creature’s necks, backs and legs are broken and damaged whenever racing takes place. Heart attacks are not uncommon. The amount of suffering that happens in the equine business is prodigious, horrifying and by any recognisable and moral standard, should be offensive to any human holding any kind of compassion in their soul. The amount of money changing hands in the entire equine business is disheartening and flagrantly depressing. To those who argue that little Sally's ride on her pony at the weekend does no harm, I ask them to remember that by supporting her hobby, besides sending an abundant amount of clear messages to the child of the type I have mentioned many times over in this writing, the owners, the stables and everyone involved in the infrastructure of keeping the animals for pleasure and profit are linked to the wider world of the professional horse trainer, whose activities and involvement in races do kill so many wonderful and beautiful animals. Nothing we do is in isolation. The same kind of argument prevails whether the discussion is about illegal drugs or media piracy. Purchasing an illegal DVD at the local market may seem a harmless enough thing to do, but somewhere down the line, that person has just supported slavery and prostitution somewhere in the world. Every year some 375 horses are raced to death in Britain. Some thirty percent of these fatalities occur during or immediately after a race, and result from broken legs, necks or pelvis’. Deaths also result from fatal spinal injuries, exhaustion, heart attacks or burst blood vessels. Other victims perish from training injuries, or are killed after being assessed by their owners as counterproductive and expendable. No fewer than thirty horses have perished at the three-day Grand National meeting since 1997. (Information received 2006) They became casualties from the usual broken necks, backs, legs, shoulder blades and from being deliberately put to death, ‘out of compassion’. Quite apart from this lamentable and horrid state of affairs, this wretched issue, of using horses as beasts of burden, takes on new meaning for me every time I see a horse and rider, perhaps on a Sunday afternoon. Occasionally I stop and stare almost not quite believing what I am witnessing. For I become aware of two things. Firstly, the poor captured horse, saddled, the metal bit uncomfortably in its mouth and artificially shod, its spine under pressure from the weight of the rider and its inability to flee, to peregrinate where it wishes to go, and secondly the unconsciousness and self delusion of the lazy creature who sits atop of it. I have no doubt that many riders ‘love’ their charges, and care for them perhaps even more than they might members of their own race, but that is hardly the point. The fundamental issue is, no one has asked the horse if it wants its spine deliberately bent out of shape by baring a load nature did not design it to take. We understand we obviously cannot ask the poor thing, and that should become our starting point; for beginning to understand ourselves in a more complete and wholesome manner. We have no need to ride horses nowadays. Not in the Western world. Other means of locomotion have become available. We no longer need oxen to pull the plough or horses to pull carts. The horseless carriage was invented over a hundred years ago. Recently I heard these words from a BBC television program called Countryfile; ‘The countryside is very important to people...and to animals as well of course’ What a perfect indictment as to the way that presenter thought. It has to be remembered that everything we do in connection with animals is a perfect record of how we sit with ourselves. Naturally it is impossible to advance the quality of our living conditions without disturbing the environment. Like any other animal, we are rivals for food and shelter. However, the moment we begin to cultivate soil, remove trees, divert lakes etc, we remove ourselves from the ‘natural’ system. Altering the ecosystem, making it difficult for other creatures does seem to be a habit of ours but one, it seems and from which I hope, we will eventually pass through as I touch upon later. Regarding organisations and companies, of particular abhorrence is, The National Trust who describe their work as ‘encompassing an array of sectors, ranging from the conservation of wildlife and geological features to the strengthening of rural economies to enable sustainable agricultural development’. They claim they are committed to influencing the management of the whole environment. Maintenance and repair? Since when did a flower or a tree need repairing? Forests, woods, fens, beaches, downs, moorland...the list of natural situations as well as animals that it wishes to control are endless. However, the conclusion that animals have certain innate rights and are entitled to a kind of moral consideration is resentfully becoming a sound and workable idea. At least in the more advanced countries which do not rely on animals to do physical work so much. Crass and ignorant biblical statements that the animal world, like the rest of creation, were made for the use of man have not helped, and it will almost be an act of divinity when all religions and the noose they hold over the animal kingdom comes to an end as it surely will for reasons best left to the next chapter. FIVE Animals rarely have a choice to be with us. That is the main thrust of my argument against ‘animal lovers’. So my first point is for animals. My second deterrence is that by treating these creatures as we do, our disagreeable behaviour migrates and bleeds into our relations with each other. That logic is assured. The same innate brain which names a dog, or becomes irritated with a dog is exactly the same brain that affects the way we treat each other. Ultimately, as well as the animal, it is ourselves who are harmed. Using animals is yet another way to keep us spiritually depressed. In a perfect world we would all be vegetarians, but let us not examine that issue here. There would be no point. Enough volumes are published each month on the benefits of the discipline, and I am not qualified to voice my opinion on the subject. However, I do object to many of the major animal industries, including those of hunting, whaling, and factory farming. Humans are part of a food chain but that does not exclude us from using and making decisions which might ease the suffering of those species we decide to eat. As an aside, I do not understand this aspect of life for it makes no sense. Nature created us, and we reciprocate by altering and even destroying the very thing which gave rise to us. It seems as if nature is self-destructive doesn't it? Why would it do that? Our own intelligence may well turn out to be our greatest enemy. I am not one of those tree-hugging, lyrical, new age personalities who feed vegetables to their ‘pets’. Some animals are naturally carnivorous, and it is right and proper that they eat meat. I offer information. That is my job. Your conscience, your body, is your own responsibility. What of the future then? How can we overcome 130,000 years of conditioning? How can we stop breeding animals for profit and pleasure? How can we learn to live without domesticated animals? When will we be able to say that the only birds we can hear are wild ones, not stuttering little creatures trapped in cages? What will we do with those already domesticated? Those descendants of the grey wolf, Canis lupus for instance? Deliberately kill them? I hope not. The extinction of canis familiaris and feline might just signify our own release though. After an exhaustive commendation of the domestic dog, part of the Aberdeen Bestiary, written and illuminated in England around 1200 (Folio 18r) reads, ‘Finally, their nature is that they cannot exist without man’(!) (My exclamation mark) However did they exist and manage before we arrived on the scene? What foolish gobbledygook! When will we be content to look and admire fish without feeling the need to yank a hook though their mouths and smother them with air? Or keep them as decorations in artificial circumstances? I include garden ponds. When will the minority amongst us have the capacity to take a camera on safari instead of a shotgun? When will the truly evil process of taxidermy cease? Of deliberately killing an animal simply to mount and display it? Another example of the feeble-minded and dogmatic personalities which walk among us. A luminous display of dominance over an animal. A clear example of the division that exists between these abnormalities and the rest of the animal kingdom. Sadness here, for me, is that I am forced the share oxygen with these throwbacks. When will our leaders, our royalty, our government spokespersons, begin to show real and honest respect for themselves by refusing to take part in blood sports? When will we stop raising horses and dogs for their racing prowess? Or pigeons for racing? Or hunting dogs? Or small pitiable creatures forever locked away in a laboratory, its only destiny, a needle. It will not take 130,000 years. Of that I am sure for the pace of our societies are accelerating. Information is flowing freely throughout much of the developed world. One can only hope that China's government, the Communist state will soon collapse and that will be 1,313,973,713 (July 2006 est.) persons gaining their freedom. Which will lead eventually, hopefully to an increase of personal respect that in turn, might be transferred to the way Chinese people treat animals. Without a doubt, the Chinese treat the animal kingdom with a cruelty that easily eclipses anything we in the UK have done over the last 1,000 years. And its record of human rights is not at all good either. Read any information about what happened when they invaded Tibet. Videos of cruelty to domesticated cats and dogs for their meat, their skins, and their fur have been appearing now with some frequency and at the present time, things are not getting any better. The Chinese penchant for obscure materials like the testicles of certain animals or horns, taken into their body with the superstitious belief that the substances, or their quiddity will in some way heal or enhance them is not only revolting to many, but primitive and unsubstantial. China is not the only culprit of course. There is probably not a country in existence, which does not contain a measure of this problem. The dilemma is not only monstrous, but wickedly huge. And with six billion people involved, it appears to be a situation that might be with us for as long as we are around. But I do not think so. I have no great affinity for or with animals. I simply accept them as part of this world, as much as I do plants or ourselves. If I were forced into a position, I would choose a human life over an animal because I am more closely affiliated with humans. They are my species. I very much doubt that a rat feels much about a rabbit. I admit to feeling a little confused over the time spent regarding animals, especially those we still allow to roam in the wild. My own personal preference here is marked; whenever I have watched a wildlife program, I have to admit, all I ever see them do is kill, eat and mate. And that does not stimulate me at all. Yes, I marvel at the sheer diversity of it all, but in the long term, I do prefer creativity to copulation and too much of the latter will soon send me to the remote. For although, undoubtedly, to a physical degree, we share many traits and circumstances with the animal kingdom, our higher consciousness should surely naturally gravitate towards the care and love of our own. I unfortunately, know too many ‘pet’ owners who love and think more of their animals than they do other human beings. Am I alone in thinking that this practice is unhealthy and, in an odd way, even macabre? Almost, I think, as spooky as yet another variant and modern form of bullying. One I believe we have to truly guard ourselves against before it becomes integrated into our personality. The practice of self-bullying. Which would include putting ourselves into positions where we openly allow people to bully us. The proliferation of reality TV shows, shows us the way here. But to return to macabre behaviour. To include my own in fact. To underpin my opening promise, I understand that my attempt to change the way we are is as fruitless as an ant trying to push an elephant uphill. In fact, several dozen elephants on a largish cart. Make that several hundred carts. However, perhaps I should not be surprised. Those people who indulge in loving animals more than people of their own species are bound to behave in some extraordinary ways. How can they not? I have to report my own feelings and put down as a matter of record, that if people put as much time, energy and love into people as much as some of them did to the domesticated animals they falsely believe they are caring for, then I cannot help but feel that the value and happiness of many human lives would definitely increase. I believe we need to re-evaluate our relationship with the animal kingdom. Why should we do that? One by-product would be improved relationships with each other. So what can the future hold? Will it take another 130,000 years to change that which must be changed? SIX The writer now has the complicated task of summing up the contents of this short book. I'll begin by asking, is it possible to look at something common with new possibilities? The level of compassion, there's that word again, each of us feels could be raised, of that there can be no doubt. There are two issues yet to be addressed; compassion and the steps we must take to control the future. I believe most thinking people would agree that animals lack the consciousness required for compassion which my dictionary defines as; Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. Pity also is extremely similar; Sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another. We humans have it in spades. Scientific evidence uncovered recently has given an estimate for the earliest recorded instance of compassion as being about two million years ago. Undoubtedly, Mother Nature placed it inside us as an evolutionary step although it is still unclear why. The glib may say ‘its what makes us human’, the serious will offer natural and necessary transformation but neither does not answer the point. Like all life forms, we learn by imitation, and many of our traits are learnt in childhood, a time when our compassion is not yet fully developed and many children (mostly boys for some unknown and illogical reason) somehow possess the evil necessary to pull the legs off spiders and burn up ants with a magnifying loupe under a hot sun. They learn quickly that smaller things cannot hurt them and so the die is cast. With our innate sense of curiosity, we rapidly learn that domination is easy. Once learnt, it is a hard lesson to let go and we progress to make careers out of it whether that is bending and twisting nature to our wills or imposing our domain over the lives of others be them animal or human. It is difficult to witness an animal suffer and, as I mentioned before, it would be a hard man or woman who could walk by one in obvious pain. We have the means, the intelligence to help and we often do but I maintain that we suffer for it in the long term by extending that help beyond all reasonableness. Perhaps that's how domestication of wild animals began. It does not take much imagination to see perhaps how it all commenced. It is quite impossible to be objective when assembling a book of this nature. I hope it is obvious that I care compassionately about the plight of animals even though I do not affiliate myself with them in any way except in the most normal and base bodily functions. I do naturally care more for my human brothers and sisters, and it may seem strange to write a book about bullying animals in that case, but as much as I care about what we do and how we treat the other members of the animal kingdom, my plan was simply a device to bring our misguided attention and neuroses back to us where it belongs, not projected out there on suffering animals. The dog and cat owner may differ greatly with me on many points using their well-groomed sense of benevolence as an excellent defence. They may offer me dozens if not hundreds of examples of good and rightful behaviour about how compassionately and well the domesticated animals in their ‘care’ are treated, but my single answer would be the same as I mentioned before concerning the horse and is deafening in its basic simplicity; did anyone ask the animal if it wanted to be kept in captive surroundings? We can be sure then that in the absence of a positive answer, we just continue to degrade and humiliate ourselves I am not being facile. Of course the animals do not appear to mind (the ones whose basic needs are being met) but how are we to positively know? Do we in fact care? The best we can do is use what empathy we have and try to imagine that that is what we ourselves would wish for under the same set of circumstances. This is something we are practiced at and often we meddle in the affairs of others attempting to see things from another's point of view but often getting it wrong. The quiddity of this book is; what if we have been getting it wrong about the way we treat animals? A little meditation on this throws up the following; 1. We still have a desire to eat animals, but most of us also own the consciousness to protect them from harm and distress. There can be no doubt, that the sooner our species learns to rely on the world of plants for its nutritional an other basic needs, this stressful component of our thinking will fade away. 2. The desire for companionship. Much has been written about man's appetite in this regard. Certainly dogs make passable companions of a sort considering that they cannot talk or think. We may talk at them but as millions of years go by, not one has yet to answer back. (Nothing meaningful at least!) However, perhaps the truth being that they are dumb and therefore do not need much exercise of intelligence in dealing with them and can be so easily dominated and kept, says far more about our own needs. Domestic animals do not answer back. They do not argue. They do not cloud any issues with backchat. They normally do exactly what they are told. They are, in fact, perfect little thralls, passive victims of our obsessive and innate need to dominate. This particular desire may well be our greatest problem in learning to advance spiritually. In learning to become more human. I wonder how many animals would remain pets if they had the consciousness to reason and talk? I can imagine a scenario; A DOG OWNER; Come on old girl...walkies... FIDO; Not now thanks, I'm comfortable here. OWNER; But I want you to do your business now. FIDO; No! Leave me alone. I'm happy here thank you. OWNER; Look come with me now or I'll drag you outside. FIDO; Don't you dare put that lead on me. I'll bite you if you do. OWNER; Look, come with me now... FIDO; Get lost! Go hassle somebody else. After a few months of this sort of exchange perhaps every day, I wonder how long the owner's temper and ‘love’ would last? The owner might just about put up with that sort of behaviour, attitude and response from her own teenaged son or daughter but from a dog...? 3. Respect for animals and their environment. Many of us have little respect for ourselves at the moment unless it is connected to a problem involving monetary gain. Our ability to control the land, the environment is increasing and many of us play no part in determine what impact we are having on nature. Again and again we come face to face with the same dichotomy of appearing to care yet often, showing no compassion at all when it comes to an issue about a subject in which we need to succeed. Once again, we need to grow spiritually and begin to place others needs before our own if we are to benefit from any action we take in the world. I despair when I read of how animals have been corralled into parks where they can be further controlled, tested, tagged and marked for our amusement or our scientific curiosity. I cringe at what we do to them, how we treat them, how we hurt them and cause them pain. The genesis of our lack of respect is hunger, I admit that. It is comparatively easy for a normal person of normal values to offer and show a normal amount of respect to other life forms including animals when their belly is full. The same is true of animals as well of course. (You are more likely to survive walking by a tiger after it has eaten than when it has not) In this regard then, I see the future as somewhat bright. Advances in science will eventually usher in another age. An age where, how we use animals at the moment will no longer apply. We will not have to use animal carcasses for certain things. For example, soap; Almost any fat or oil can be used to make soap. Fats for soap making include animal fats such as tallow (fat from beef), lard (fat from pork), and the various plant derived oils and hydrogenated fats. Traditionally, animal fats have been used, with beef tallow making the hardest soap, pork lard a medium hardness soap and chicken fat the softest. Its generally accepted at the moment that the harder fats make better soap but what will the future bring? Perhaps laboratories will produce a perfect soap made from vegetable oil? It is to be hoped. Just one example out of untold thousands that we have found uses for out of the corpses we use. Bone china is another. Bone china is type of porcelain first developed in Britain in which ox bone, bone ash, is added to the mix. It is a major constituent, about fifty percent and characterised by high whiteness, translucency and strength. I sometimes wonder how many people realise that manufactures still use real animal bones in the products they use to drink from. To touch against their lips. The future I believe can only be positive. Synthetic clothes production will increase and hopefully match and even excel fur or leather in quality. One may think this would be the perfect time to bruise and deride those who wear fur but once begun there would be no end to it. Those who do indulge, know what they are doing because many are clever and intelligent if not somewhat emotionally and spiritually stunted. One can only hope the morality of the greater world will eventually affect their simplistic and narrow thinking, their habits will die away and mankind will become a unity, just as the majority now think breeding dogs for the use of fighting for profit is an evil. New production techniques and innovated ideas and brassy inventions like nanotechnology may hopefully bring us to a day when the last animal has to be sacrificed in the name of our needs, desires, wants and habits. Perhaps when we can precisely place an atom, side by side with its neighbour, meaning we will be able to make anything we like, perhaps that will be the start of a new epoch for us. Perhaps innovative techniques will be discovered that will make plants have a firmer and more chewable texture, a kind of halfway meeting point between the vegetarians and the carnivores. No doubt, one day, we will even develop an electronic ‘nose’ that will be a thousand times more sensitive than the performance of the best bloodhounds or ‘sniffer dogs’ have at the moment. We no longer rely on canaries in mine shafts. Perhaps even, and let us stretch our imaginations further than they have done before, the keeping of domesticated animals for amusement will undergo a dip in popularity as we advance. For, concerning these billions of creatures, we have dug a metaphoric pit for ourselves and only a radical shift in consciousness will be strong enough to tug us out of the problem. Perhaps one day, horses will be regarded for what they truly are; magnificent wild creatures. In everyday life, here, in modern London, the majority of people do not use horses for easy transport unlike one hundred years ago. The car, with all its associated problems, has taken over the burden of trolleying us about so moving and shifting our consciousness and circumstances certainly can be achieved even if the advancement was done with us in mind and not the horse. Re the same for ploughing using ox or shire horses. I agree that shifting from using a horse to a car or tractor is far more destructive for the environment in so many thousands of different ways but if we understand the process as just another stage in our evolution, then the positive aspects of the change becomes apparent. Hydrocarbon-based machines are a necessary evil at the moment. An arena through which we have to pass. Already hybrid cars are becoming commonplace. Who can guess what will come next? Hydrogen-fuelled cars whose only exhaust is water? Most importantly though, in this instance of the horse, a living creature has now been freed. (Except by the cruel, the inconsiderate, the indelicate and the insensitive) On this subject, I waver in my indifference for each time I see a person riding a hose, pony or mule or see the obnoxious betting on races that we force them to undergo, as again aforementioned, I often feel utterly revolted by the sadistic sight of it. That poor horse's spine... and all for amusement. And profit of course. My thoughts may be quixotic, but I do not waver from the possibility of this advancement. We can only hope and trust that we will find our way. I feel sure that one hundred years ago, the average person, if told that within a hundred years, the horse would disappear from industry, they would have hardly believed you. I can only hope that in (or maybe shorter) a similar period of time, the same might apply to many if not all of the damnable practices mentioned before. It is painfully ironic that in order to reach these stages of improvement, humankind has to pass through degrees of cruelty in all its many forms and for that reason alone, I cannot condemn. Or try not to. We understand nature has a sure way about her. Ultimately, I do believe she knows exactly what she is doing (in the sense that no other action can be possible) Although it personally grieves me to witness what happens around me also understanding that I can do little to prevent most of it, I do understand that old maxim, grass is green, sky is blue, all is well. For us as individuals then, we need do nothing. Nature will take care of us. Our attitudes both shameful and honourable will adjust to the ever-changing circumstances in which we find ourselves. Our governments will eventually do what is correct and proper and right will always find a way of overcoming wrong. Thank goodness, as humans we operate on the pleasure principle. I began this work by mentioning that I believed very little change would come of this book and I still believe that in terms of short years. However, I do conclude that for our race and the animals that occupy this planet, the long-term future is nevertheless a positive one. Perhaps when this author is little more than crumbled dust in the ground, animals may finally have less to fear from their greatest predator and we may have finally grown into our spiritual heritage. The key is change, perception and awareness. We need to go beyond our circumstances, beyond our apparently inflexible DNA. I believe that our perception is greater than those restrictive controls nature placed within us as much as it is general recognised that we humans are greater than the sum of our parts. Next time we see a horse's back bent away from its natural shape, or being made to race uncontrollably by a jockey in the pursuit of money or made to stand unnaturally still by one of the Queen's Life Guards for what may seem like an endless period of time, perhaps we might stop and stare at the unreasonableness of it. Or even the sheer evilness of it. Or maybe when we see a dog being throttled by a tight collar and its ‘owner’ shouting at it, threatening it, perhaps we can imagine a little human child on the end of that leash. Emotionally, there is little difference. Both have hearts.