Saturday, March 24, 2012

Humanizing Animals, Animalizing Humans

I reported the other day that we got a dog. So for a week now, I and he have been bonding, master to animal. I'm sure he is a Filipino German Sheppard because he is rather stubborn about some things. Like if there is a "slipper" (sandal) in the neighborhood, he will chew it to shreds no matter how many times he has been told "no". And he will eat the crap that comes from the kitchen drainage pipe no matter how often he has been yanked away and scolded.

This morning I observed my wife's brother trekking out for his early morning duty of feeding his fighting chicken. He lives in the house at the other side of our property, along with my wife's mother.

I've never owned a fighting chicken, but I've owned dogs.

Americans tend to ascribe human qualities to their dogs. Most pamper the animals, talking to them, feeding them, keeping them bathed and clean. In the U.S., dogs often have the run of the house. My ex-girlfriend, a veterinarian, would allow her poodle to sleep on the bed with us. She argued that dogs are cleaner than humans, and I believe her. After all, she is now rich, and so is her dog, and here I am, sucking my income off Uncle Sam.

Dogs in the Philippines also have the run of the house, but that is often because there is no door. And fleas are just another bug that poor people have to deal with.

The dogs here are not very well cared for. Well, other than receiving the garbage for food, they are usually not cared for at all.

But the chickens are.

They get vitamins and  a little house and personal attention and are trained for their occupation, to kill other chickens.

That's what I don't comprehend, and maybe a reader can help me out.

I humanize my dogs. Care for them, love them, get loved back. Do Filipino men care for their chickens that way? You know, do they bond at the heart?

If so, how can they send them into the fighting ring knowing there is a 50/50 chance the bird will come out dead?

I'd never send my dog into a fight. Certainly not to one where odds were even I'd have to get out a shovel and bury him. And my hungry neighbors would certainly not be allowed to dine on his carcass.

I deduce that Filipinos simply don't extend their feelings to animals at all. Not to dogs, not to chickens. Hell, based on the rudeness everywhere, I'm not sure they extend their feelings to other people.

Yet that is what distinguishes the higher order of human from the lower order of animal, is it not? The ability to conceptualize and figure things out, to know that kindness is good and courtesy honorable? That's why we are the superior animal, except for cockroaches and ants who will be here long after the nuclear holocaust.

I look at the Republican primary in the United States and I'd say those of us claiming to belong to mankind have not progressed very far on the progressiveness scale. The deceits, outright lies, manipulations and lack of respect shown other supposedly upstanding, honorable men is astounding. It's down and dirty. No holds barred. Cut throat. Rather like fighting chickens in the ring, now that I think about it clearly.

The Corona trial is another cock pit, women welcome.

We are more animal than human, in many respects. Bowing to base motivations like dominance and cunning. A cross I suppose between an elephant and a fox. Dominance and cunning and even nasty, ruthless violence. What animal best represents that? A hyena? The results of our murderous tendencies are broadcast daily. Who can question that somewhere in our genetic code is an easy disposition to kill?

Well, I think we have to simply try a little harder to recognize principles that allow us to claim an honorable place above animals. We have to try a little harder to stick to those principles, even if the weight of other people's opinions and acts goes against us. We have to do better. Better than uttering lies, knowingly. Better than lying to ourselves.

Right now, I think dogs, and possibly even chickens, are more honorable than man.

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