50. Mayan Meltdown (12/2011)
Within the space of a few decades the status of domestic animals has been denigrated to such an extent that few humans these days truly understand the beauty of the relationships between man and beast.
Man’s best friend emerged willingly over centuries from the wolf living in close proximity to humans eventually becoming tamed, loyal and ready to serve in the transition from pariah to companion. Later different characteristics were manipulated and honed to create breeds that were useful in many ways from herding livestock to tracking criminals, and guiding the blind. Now days although some individual canines are allowed to perform and fulfill their raison d’être, the vast majority are allowed to breed indiscriminately or worse, steered towards the opposite extreme of aesthetic over selection. For some peculiar reason humans tend to shun the healthiest dogs of mixed breed that are so prolific, ending up in shelters, euthanazed en masse daily. The functionally defunct pedigreed breeds that are weakened and disease ridden through inbreeding have become highly prized fashion accessories, indicating the depth of our general concern for life.
Swine also evolved so closely to man that sometimes the two species can barely be told apart. They lived off human waste, literally, which is what aided the tape worm to evolve as a cyst in the muscle of the pig which when eaten by man develops into the segmented worm releasing its egg laden segments in the faeces, only to be ingested by the pig for the cycle to continue. Although we are very similar creatures in many ways the unfortunate pig has been relegated to a miserable life behind the tightest fitting bars imaginable, by the dominant specie.
Welfare standards during the dubious glory years of equestrian centered progress when horses were used extensively for transport and going into combat hardly bare contemplation and perhaps they are better off in the mechanized era being made to run around in circles, jump over poles, or take extended lessons in the sophistication of restraint.
Bovine herds that once graced the pastures of our beautiful landscape now find themselves in a crowd of complete strangers, separated from their families standing about in vast sunbaked feedlots, growing rapidly on hormones and antibiotics while their dung piles up around them.
The pain of the general depression expressed by our abused domesticated friends is quiet and fearful midst the noise and confidence of modern day consumerism. The misery is carefully hidden from human eyes that have in any case lost the ability to discern suffering. What seems to stimulate temporary joy in the restricted human psyche is the unverified idea of free ranging animals: a dog running(illegally) on the beach, pigs wallowing(unhygienic) in mud, chickens scratching(wastefully) in the forest, cows grazing(uneconomically) in pastures, and horses roaming(irresponsibly) wild and free. But in reality these situations no longer exist on earth as they do in our imagination. We have excluded their natural world from them by preventing access, thereby ending that world as they knew it.
We mask the physical pain of the child, adult, aged, victim, hero, and the seen animal at all costs. We dull our own mental anguish with drugs and alcohol, and television or internet distractions, and forget about the insanity of captivity. We can sink into the bliss of oblivion while 2012 collapses all around us, or wake up to the real possibility of choosing life.