Executive Brief: Some persons claim that just one person cannot make a difference (to support their decision not to make a difference); however, that’s just an empty excuse; ultimately, difference is only ever made by just one person.
“Just one person” is always the way that it starts.
That is the umbrella under which I would like to insist:
Don’t blame wildlife for being wildlife just because you don’t want to change your domestic choices.
Recently, among various folks with whom I happen to be conversing socially, a particular topic has been coming up with increasing frequency. (Such repetition is just part of my life’s high levels of ambient coincidence.)
They have been expressing escalation because wildlife sometimes disturbs their domestic tranquility.
Some of those people, I love (and I at least enjoy the company of the rest of them), so while I am feeling judgmental (which is very rare with my friends), this is not a personal attack. Yes, I do notice myself feeling disappointed and discouraged, not in who they are, but in what they believe (and therefore do) about this specific thing. (I understand that I am dismaying to them about some things as well.)
So this is a me thing, namely: working with animals (human and otherwise) in the particular way that I have over the course of my life has further reinforced the intensity with which I feel triggered by their victimization (and other unjust treatment), and I find myself to be entrenched; that is to say, I am not very open-hearted on this particular subject. I am easily escalated. And, given how fundamental those core beliefs are to who I am, there’s not much of significance that I can do about that faith while remaining me.
I am not sure how else to put this more clearly. My way of being in this regard is not something that I learned. To the degree that it makes any sense to say that someone was “born a particular way”: I was born this particular way. It is hard wiring.
Having said all of that, these are the sorts of discussions that people should just leave me out of (which is just fine) if they don’t want to be around my escalation (which is also fine):
Raccoons are described as threatening their outdoor cats, and as eating the pet food and garbage that they leave outdoors. You know, like the same sort of domestic cats that are wiping out the indigenous bird species in Hawai’i.
Geese are reviled for hissing and puffing and biting. (That’s gander slander.)
The wildlife gets cast as the villains in these stories.
But humans are the ones who have eradicated the habitat in which the raccoons and geese (and other wildlife) were living and eating. Humans chose to invade that wilderness, and chose to introduce their domestic pets into that environment.
“But I can’t keep my cat locked up indoors. I have to let my poor little baby destroy those nasty-assed wild bird populations.”
“Can’t” is a lie. Getting a pet was a choice. Take adult responsibility. Don’t blame the raccoons over your sense of inconvenience.
“Geese leave their crap all over the golf course, and I have to golf.”
No, you don’t. You choose to golf. Grow up and deal with the poop. (And at some point, maybe think about how much of a problem your poop is for the environment before you start ragging on the geese. A toilet isn’t some sort of magic transporter technology that makes shit disappear.)
“The wolves are attacking my cattle. I have to kill them.”
You are referring to the cattle that you introduced as you wiped out the habitat in which the wolves and their natural prey once lived. You created the problem. You are choosing to drive the wolves into extinction.
“But people have to eat!”
Not domestic cattle, they don’t. That’s another choice.
“Geese attacked me when I was at the gas station. Someone needs to do something about those damn geese. I have to get gas for my car.”
Nope. The geese aren’t the problem in that situation. You are. (And yes, someone does need to do something about you; specifically, you could do something about you.) Using cars is a choice that humans make. Don’t blame the geese when you threaten their flock as you get gas in an area that humans are trying to make unlivable for them.
The response to my perspective, such as not “needing” to get gas, tends to be that just one person can’t make a difference (i.e., the claim is that there is reason never to try).
Do I place greater value on non-human animals than on humans? Yes, sometimes. I do so when humans are being assholes and hurting animals for selfish, unnecessary reasons. (But that’s not a matter of valuing animals so much as devaluing self-oriented jerks who should have the capacity available to be better.) I have likely worked in close contact with more wildlife and exotic animals than most of you, where many of those animals were abused by humans; in fact, human abuse is often the reason why I was working with them… cleaning up your mess.
Am I a hypocrite regarding this issue?
Well, I do choose to drive a car, and I do choose to get gas for that car (although I might make different choices later); nonetheless, if geese tried to bite me at a gas station, I wouldn’t identify them as the aggressors when I am the invader.
I do eat some animal meat, but I have been moving it out of my diet (except for chicken, turkey, and fish… so far). That is a relatively new change for me, one that should be more sustainable when I am the only person for whom I am cooking (and when I have fewer other changes that I am pursuing). I do have some older rules:
1) no baby animals (period),
2) no cephalopods (i.e., we are their land-dwelling alien siblings),
3) nothing that has passed – or is a close contender for passing – the likes of the mirror test (i.e., having some sense of Self), and
4) nothing that displays affection, where my needing to make guesses about this is one reason for choosing to err on the side of caution (i.e., I have wallowed in denial around cattle and pigs and so on).
And once I really understood what was entailed in making milk commercially available, I gave that up. Cashew milk was the winner of the ensuing comparison test.
But then there’s cheese, that curdled liquid expressed from the evolutionarily modified sweat glands of those bovids who were biologically assigned female sex at birth. (Thank you Becky Chambers.) I’m a huge fan of ranges of flavors and textures and stuff, and cheese has that in abundance. (I don’t drink much alcohol, and the effect has never been a big draw, but I really like trying different kinds of flavors.)
So, yes, I am hypocritical about cheese, given how the bovids are treated. So I have put that on my list to take care of once I have sufficient emotional resources left over from fixing all of the other stuff that is higher on the list… like changing my behavior to address prediabetes (for which cheese in moderation can be beneficial, according to scant but solid research).
Now, all that said…
If someone wants to vilify mosquitoes, I’d chime right in, given the blood-sucking, welt-causing, disease-ridden bastards that they are.
Well, except that some of them pollinate flowers. So not those kinds of mosquitoes. Just the ones that bite me.
Because I have to sit outside of an evening with my friends (as they complain about Nature futzing their whims).