That being said, I’d like to open this week’s entry with a line from the musical “Paint Your Wagon” which should set the foundation for the premise of this writing: “God made the mountains; God made the sky; God made the people – God knows why. He fixed up the planet as best as He could; then in come the people and gum it up good!”
That misanthropic line is sung (or, more accurately, croaked) by Lee Marvin as he explains why he holds his own species in disdain. I could spend hours elaborating on the failings, folly and foibles of the human race, but that would be tantamount to redundancy. We all know we as a species have “gummed it up good”, there is no need to recap on that count. My point is better illustrated by simply listing the numerous ways in which the various species’ of “dumb animals” have acquitted themselves as far more worthy of our respect than have our compatriots.
In my experience animals will NOT:
~ Kill one another for “sport” or petty jealousies (for reasons of survival, only).
~ Engage in self-destructive behavior for whatever reason, (well, except, maybe lemmings, but I honestly believe they don’t know what they are getting into when they sign up for the Big Outing).
~ Destroy ANYTHING wantonly.
~ Betray your love for them and vice-versa for any reason (more on this later).
~ Abide any creature (human or other) messing with their families (granted, we share this trait, and consider it noble, yet when displayed in the animal kingdom, we call it “instinct”).
~ Waste food or resources – they use what they need and leave what they don’t.
Although I am aware there are plenty of you out there who share my views, it is a fact that we as a species seem to hold the animal kingdom in disregard and I cannot fathom why this is the case. I am befuddled by this outlook because everywhere I look, I see evidence of animal superiority: please reference the above list as “exhibit A’, if you will. Add to that impressive résumé’ the fact that virtually every genus of animal possess senses that far outstrip the maximum capabilities of our own. In fact, in some cases, it appears they may command senses that exceed the standard issue of five (witness various tales of critters who have knowledge of natural disasters in advance of the events, not to mention the use of companion animals to provide early warning of seizures and other medical episodes that modern medicine cannot provide unassisted). These abilities challenge us in that scientists, meteorologists and seismologists have been unable to duplicate them despite our dizzying array of technology, gadgets, gizmos and doohickeys. Yet, despite all this empirical evidence, we inexplicably persist in considering ourselves superior to the animals based solely on the fact that we have managed to fabricate devices and machines that allow us to destroy them. (An accomplishment most consider laudable but strikes me as dubious, at best).
For all of the above reasons, but mostly because humans on the whole have succeeded in disenchanting me as to our worthiness, I choose the Animal Kingdom – either wild or domesticated as my preferred source of companionship. They just seem to have so much more to offer than my human acquaintances. For instance, my dog will greet me with unbounded élan each time I enter the house – whether I’ve been gone five weeks or five minutes – it makes no difference – the greeting is the same. My conure will greet me with a “hello” each time I enter the room, even if I have been in and out five times in as many minutes. As I mentioned earlier, there is simply no trading on or diminishment of the emotional bonds formed between you and a “dumb animal”. They define the term “unconditional love” on a daily basis. Add loyalty and dependability to that term as well. Recently on an episode of “Zoo” I heard this and thought it an appropriate quote for this writing:
“All men are unknowable, but with animals, you always know where you stand”
The truth of these words compels and, I submit, supports the bulk of this writing. And finally, I submit the most compelling evidence:
Does this not define the meaning of joy? What manner of depression or heart can stand unmoved in the face of this unmitigated happiness? I won’t even delve into the obvious question of whether we as individuals merit this level of unflagging devotion – a wise man once said “I only wish I could be half as wonderful a person as my dog thinks I am”. When these creatures form a bond with us, they at once become shining bastions of the concepts of devotion, loyalty, unconditional love, trust and commitment.
One glance at this heartbreaking picture tells us that in an age when the term BFF is subject to change as rapidly as we can scroll through our contacts list, these creatures clearly have much to teach us about the concepts of loyalty and commitment.
Sad to say, these animals enjoy no such guaranteed devotion from the “superior” species – granted, it happens in the human world, but anyone who has found an abandoned puppy, kitten or bunny shivering and desperately searching for a meal understands that this level of commitment is much too rare in our world. And the callous disregard that this type of treatment bespeaks happens across all species of pet – old and young alike – a sad indictment of our species’ ability to turn our back on others in need.
Bottom line: Person or critter – give me the critter every time. They are the best bet by a long shot – the ones you can count on, and you know what you are getting, every time.