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Why is it Okay For a Snake to Eat a Mouse, But Not For Me to Eat a Steak?

October 15, 2014

PROMPT: Open Prompt


Ants are fucking weird. Did you know that some species of ant in South America invade neighboring colonies and bring the young back home and enslaves them? Some carry out slave-raids (that’s what they’re called) continuously, while others only do it when their work force needs replenishing. There’s another species of ant, and this is pretty interesting I think, that keeps herds of aphids as cattle and eats the honey they produce- it’s very similar to what we do to cows. Isn’t that funny? You know what’s really cool? Beavers. Beavers cut down these huge trees and use the logs to build dams that stop streams and rivers and create lakes. Did you hear that? They create lakes. That’s so impressive. They create them so that they can build their homes in them and have a steady supply of food. And any time those dams get damaged or torn away or purposefully removed, the beavers just rebuild them. There have been houses and communities that had to be relocated because Beavers moved in nearby and flooded out the homes. And of course there have been entire communities of animals that have drowned or been forced to relocate by Beaver dams. That is architecture and engineering and the unyielding determination to keep up what they’ve built. I think what I find so interesting about this is that these behaviors are so unbelievably human. You would never think of slavey as something that happens in the animal kingdom. Or domestication. Hell, dolphins, otters, apes, and a few other species have been known to use tools to get their food. You’d probably even think torture was a human invention too. Nope. Orca whales have been known to play ping-pong with baby seals before eating them, and everyone knows about cats and mice. What you probably don’t know is that some well-fed cats will hunt mice, play with them, and then leave them to bleed to death without killing or eating them. Not to mention the sheer amount of rape documented in groups of dolphins. Not usually what you’d associate with the natural world, I know. But whether you’ve seen it or not, it’s there. Survival of the fittest. Now that’s definitely a term you’ve heard before. It’s the law of the animal kingdom, the whole natural world. A creature unable to survive on its own must die, so the stronger animals can continue to make a stronger species. It’s funny too. With the way small children demand fairness and to the general disdain for Laissex-Faire capitalism to the human urge to help that mysterious demographic, “those in need”, it seems most humans refuse to accept or allow this principle in their own systems. We hate the instances of the strong taking advantage of the weak, and laud and glorify the strong helping the weak to become strong. We have a strong belief in everyone having the chance they deserve. In fact, the humans holding closest to nature’s basics are the ones destroying it. “For me to live, something else must die.” That’s harsh. And a little horrifying. It’s from Hatchet, a story about a boy who crashes in the middle of the woods and must survive with nothing but a hatchet. He carves out a place and lives at a balance with the world around him. It describes his reality and he makes his peace with it. Most people that I’ve asked say that if they were stranded on a deserted island with a dog, they wouldn’t eat the dog. But I think they would. Or the dog would eat them. When they return to a pure state of the wild, natural instincts will kick in to keep you alive. The reason people don’t kill on a daily basis in the modern world is because the farther removed we become from “wild” nature, the less wild we become. The less use we have for those instincts. With every natural disaster, there are lives lost and habitats destroyed. That doesn’t always mean human lives and habitats. But the fact is, everything in existence is capable of destruction. Creation is impossible without destruction. Life is impossible without it. Humans, whether you believe we are part of nature or separate from it, are just like it: destructive, cruel, unstoppable, and beautiful and complex and special. And you can’t ignore any one side if you want to see it clearly. So what separates us? Why is it okay for a snake to eat a mouse, but not for me to eat a steak? A snake is eating a mouse because it has to, because its instincts tell it that this is how to survive. When I eat a steak, I wonder if the cow was treated fairly, if the farmer/waiter/transporter/factory worker is getting paid enough, how the chef learned to work magic with food. Humans have something, something a tropical storm or an ant or an Orca Whale doesn’t have: knowledge of the consequences of our actions. Awareness of the impact we have. We know there is a world larger than us, a bigger picture that we are contributing to. And that gives us a responsibility to contribute to that bigger picture. Create more than we destroy. Give more than we need. We are either natural, entitled to the same destructive selfishness as all nature, or separate, and therefore responsible for more, responsible for what we are capable of and incapable of being one with the natural world. I mean, if you want my personal opinion.


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  • October 15, 2014 - 6:26pm (Now Viewing)

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