13. Talking About an Evolution (11/2008)
Humans are the least evolved animals on earth. Every other living creature knows its place and nature, accepting its perfect niche. Disasters occur where man intervenes to control, manipulate or destroy the lives of others.
Birds migrate in a cycle of eternal summers using their own energy, flying an ancient path without carbon emissions, noise pollution, or bad airline meals. The spring air is filled with mellifluous, and perfect song that even the most dazzling opera divas strive a lifetime to achieve. They’re all working hard to build their own eco-friendly dwellings in ideal locations. Plumage is immaculately cared for, every feather in place, unflinching with changing fashions. The best food is freely available: Many birds make use of humans to produce it for them, without our imprisonment.
Bees have highly sophisticated and organised lives: hives thrive by strict social order, individuals working together for the common good and indirectly for the benefit of other communities like ours, through tireless pollinating, making of honey, and maintaining genetic diversity.
The lives of rats are among the most revered. They are resilient, adaptable and cunning, yet delicate and sensitive, as can be observed by the reaction of a rat when you gently blow into its face. Being mammals they posses every organ we do: a brain, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys etc; and their physiology is identical to ours which is why rats are used in laboratories for experimentation. In these circumstances they are often abused and cruelly treated as objects and not respected as sentient beings. This has led to militant anti-vivisection campaigning worldwide by people who have grasped the concept that animals are sentient beings and need to be treated kindly. Now there are superior and kinder alternatives to the vivisection charade, yet the practice continues unabated behind firmly closed doors.
The great apes are obvious animals to compare to humans, recognising the similarity requires little imagination. Gorillas don’t bother with doing math, driving cars, building houses, watching TV, sending emails, or wandering around shopping in malls. But they do spend time caring for family members, communicating effectively, eating well, travelling short distances on foot, sleeping properly, and entertaining guests. A gentle, idyllic existence in harmony with the environment is something they cannot maintain because of human interference. They certainly wouldn’t stoop to moving in tour groups ‘observing’ humans. We are constantly making ‘new scientific’ discoveries about the lives of these and other animals. The entire animal kingdom does not need to learn anything from human beings. Simply existing they demonstrate contentment.
Those species that have developed a closer relationship with man have done so at their peril. What were historically symbiotic relationships with domestic animals have become exploited to the extent of institutionalised cruelty on a massive scale for certain species. Some 18 million battery hens in South Africa are kept crammed into cages where a hen has the floor space size of an A4 sheet of paper: she can’t perch, preen or behave naturally. For pigs it is worse as pregnant sows are kept in crates where they can’t even turn around; a practice now banned in many other countries. Animals kept like this lose their minds, dignity, and freedom of movement, immunity, and health; to our detriment. The overwhelming quantities of toxic waste produced can lead to severe environmental contamination. We turn a blind eye, for eggs and bacon, and lose our self respect.
Marvelling at the lives of others enriches our own experience in this circus where we are the clowns. Send in the dodos.