It’s that most horrible time of the year

At this time of year I am forced to bear witness to cruelty and death.  I cannot turn a blind eye or I will run off the highway. Dear hunting season is coming, and I must see the slaughter when I drive on the Taconic Parkway, as I do three times a week. I will pull up behind a vehicle, most likely a pick-up truck.  There will usually be a decal on the back windshield of a buck’s head drawn in white, a stylized hint of the driver’s penchant for deer blood. Duck hunters of course will have a duck instead.  There might be more than one decorative element on the truck, so great is the love of the animal’s noble profile. I don’t truck with truck people enough to know, but I bet they have tattoos of antlered heads, so that when they sit at ease, short-sleeved arms crossed at rest over their expansive bellies, their beloved trophy symbol rises and falls with their meat-filled gut. The fact that hunters relish representations of what they like to kill seems a strange love/hate relationship. I guess hate is involved or are we to conclude that are living proof of Oscars Wilde’s words: “All men kill the thing they love.” I cannot count on being safe, however, in approaching a less imposing vehicle than the pickup truck, as mighty hunters also drive SUVs (mostly of the American persuasion) or even a four door sedan or minivan.  The dead animal will be tied to a roof, like a Christmas tree will be tied two months hence, or tied on a little tray on two wheels attached to the back. I will pass as quickly as possible not wanting to stare at the picture of death any more than I would want to pull over to the side of the road and contemplate the road kill. I wonder if there could possibly be anything I could do on a public highway that would get anywhere close to being as obnoxious and repulsive as slinging a large dead animal over my car. Along with having to contemplate, whether I want to or not, the end of that animal’s life and the consequences not only for that one but for others (a doe, a mate, a grazing partner), I am also handed willy-nilly yet another opportunity to confront the mysteries of the human mind, those same mysteries that underlie every horrible event that men (mostly men, and I mean that with the lower case) have and continue to perpetuate. What is hunting? I might hurl various epithets, such as cruel and stupid.  Instead, I can establish what it is not: it is not compassionate to animals, it is not careful about inflicting suffering on a living creature, it is not saddened by death, it is not repulsed by pain, it is not the gathering of food to stave off hunger.

How can one not conclude that some people simply enjoy pain, fear, suffering and death (as long as it isn’t their own or even that of their pets)? Do they get in the killing mood through a process of rationalizing their actions? Does this happen subconsciously or is there no need to think about and justify their acts to themselves.  If the latter and they have dispensed with thought, would they say that they are functioning from instinct?  Instinct is what compels actions of animals (which we are) in the absence of thought. Maybe that’s it; hunters aspire to or actually do enter a nonhuman frame of mind, akin to the beasts who actually do have to hunt to eat (or at least some of them). They revel in shedding or pretending to shed the pesky traits of Homo sapiens (thinking, compassion and the like), but keep the sighting scope, the high-tech rifle, and the duly adorned pickup truck.

6 thoughts on “It’s that most horrible time of the year

  1. Kid, stick, poke. Sorry

    Ah you poor dear, life is tough, and then we die. It is un-philosophical to allow the actions of others to bother us so much. If it bothers you, simply just stop looking at it. Deer are tasty. We are meat eating animals. That is part of my culture. Sorry.

  2. Thanks for reading. I know there are people like you out there of course and I am glad that I have had the chance to make them think even if they seem to resist. I understand that having a certain taste in your mouth is very important to you at this time and that animals should die, in your view, to gratify your taste buds. Nothing new there. You might want to think about whether suffering and death balances out with chewing for a few minutes. As for culture as the basis for your conduct, did you read my last post, “The Cultural Animal?” You fit right in with those who do not think or question, but rather accept and continue whatever sefl serving practice is handed down in the name of culture. At one time I did not think and I wore fur and ate meat. People can change even you.

  3. There is no old well documented culture who is vegetarian willingly. All those who are are religious/philosophical driven, and have a major amount of cheating, eating of meat whenever it is available. This should tell us something about human nature. Further, I have seen what happens to people who do physical work and try to be vegetarian. You can live at a desk and be vegetarian ok. I have studied on this food issue, and my conclusion that we should be consuming carbohydrates only as incidentals, not as the main dish. On this, we can forever disagree.

    I suspect that you want humans to be what you think they could be, not what they are. Good luck with that.

  4. Right you are–I do want human beings to be comapssionate. I do think they could be compassionate! Some will never be, I grant you are right there, but others will change and culture can change because people exert their reason and develop moral codes that make life better for all creatures. Slavery was the way of the world for thousands of years; women were subjugated and worse than secondclass citizens for thousands of years; homosexuality was a reviled and serious crime. Were gladiatorial combats and mass cruxifictions human nature? They were supported by culture. It is facile to say that something is human nature and part of the culture and be done with it. Everyone can look at his or her own culture and ask what practices are self serving and what are compassionate, if one is aware enough to pose the question. I think that if some practice has gone on for a really long time it is a prime candidate for scrutiny. As for your studies on food, nobody needs meat, but any dietician not on the take from the meat industry can tell you that if you really want to look into it.

  5. from the internet:
    Dietary Sources of DHA

    Algae – Certain algae are natural sources of DHA. While most people believe that fish produce their own DHA, in fact, it’s the algae in their food chain that makes them a rich source of DHA.
    DHA fortified foods, beverages and supplements

    I am not an expert on nutrition, but there is so much informatin available that has established that meat is not at all necessary for good health and is the cause of ailments such as gout and heart disease.

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