Watched the movie "Earth" with the family this weekend. The baby animals looked disconcertingly like children I know. I started naming the bear cubs in my head. And yes–they were named after your children. You know they were.
I was surprised at how carefully my children listened, though. "Hey Mom," my son said after the voice of Darth Vader stated that deserts cover 30% of the earth's surface, "Didn't he just say that 75% of the earth's surface is covered with ocean?"
So he did. And 75+30 definitely equals more than 100%. I think Vader meant 30% of the earth's exposed crust is desert, and the ocean figure referred to the entire surface of the earth, but that my son picked up on those numbers surprised me. I was just watching the scenery, you know?
And I realized something about myself: I'm prejudiced against pinnipeds. Every time they showed footage of a wolf going after a polar bear, or a pride of lions attempting to take down an elephant, I cringed; I hoped. That poor starving cheetah! That poor terrified antelope! I was torn–I don't like to think of the hunter going hungry or the hunted being eaten.
But when the polar bear attacked the walrus? I was totally rooting for the bear. Killer whale and the seal? Nothing. No anxiety. I find it curious that I don't feel anything but revulsion for pinnipeds. Maybe because they remind me of fish, and I don't feel any compassion for fish, either. Not really. Or most types of aquatic mammals. It wouldn't have bothered me if the killer whale got speared right after killing the seal. As a matter of fact, if I lived on a lake that contained something more palatable than carp, I'd be all over sending my boys down there to catch supper.
Hmmm. Come to think of it, and speaking of supper, I don't feel a lot of compassion for chickens either. Maybe I interacted with too many of them growing up. These are not intelligent, dewy-eyed animals that remind me of my children, if you know what I mean. I love chicken–with a bit of Yoshida's Gourmet sauce.
And while we're at it. Cows. Thinking. Hmmm. See, it gets tricky. I am the hunter, albeit indirectly and with my wallet. (Which, come to think of it, is probably leather.) I am also hypocritical–I make my children kill small animals for me. Like somehow that is more compassionate.
A few years ago we were having rodent problems in our old house. They'd pop up out of the heat registers in the middle of the day and make nests in the drawers and in our truck's engine. Not to mention race around my feet while I was driving–and they outsmarted us for a long time.
We tried everything against these super mice. Spring traps, glue traps, spring and glue traps. Sometimes they'd make a mistake and we'd get lucky. One day a mouse had her back legs stuck in a glue trap and her head caught under the spring of another trap. She was wide awake and breathing hard. Pewter eyes staring up at me in terror.
I couldn't kill her–even though I knew it would ease her suffering. I made my eight-year-old son take the mouse, with traps attached, and throw her in the weeds across the road and prayed the neighborhood cats would find her quickly. My husband would have stepped on her. We were cleaning out a vacant lot last spring and he stepped on dozens. Crushed them.
Could you do that? Stomp on a mouse? I can't even step on a spider–pick it up with a tissue and flush it, no problem, but that popping sensation? Eww. Now imagine that on the scale of a rodent.
I am a conflicted omnivore, yes. I buy my meat in unrecognizable shapes (I once bought a whole ham–it freaked me out–looked like a human thigh, never again!) and I call it by euphemistic names. Beef. Ham. Venison. Notice–the fish and the chicken we call by their natural, in the wild titles. Maybe there is a reason?
Hmmm. Now there is something to think about.