Sadly, on January 18, this year, my heart broke when my oldest, best friend, Her Majesty Queen Millicent I, ceased this life after a brief illness and caused me to weep as if I had lost my wife, a child, or a human friend. Indeed, Millie was my little girl who was my companion, confidant, and playfellow for 18 years.
My wife and I adopted her in May, 1996, when she was about six weeks old. From that time until her death, she ruled! A bright, vivacious kitten, she delighted in chasing me through our house, attacking me in mock viciousness, pretending with her little ears plastered to her head to be ferocious. We loved her intensely.
Millie actually belonged to my wife Miriam, a cancer survivor who, after completing a successful treatment program, asked for a kitty, as she put it. It sounded good to me. Miriam taught second grade, and when a secretary in the office revealed that her cat delivered four kittens the day before, my wife told the secretary that she wanted one.
We waited until the mother cat weaned them and time for adopting was good. When we arrived at the secretary’s house, two of the kittens were adopted with two left, Millie and her brother. As we learned later, Millie was tenacious. As her mother tried to avoid her, Millie kept running after her and trying to nurse.
Millie was a fluff of gray fur with “tiger” stripes of black. But, what fascinated us was the “M” mark on her forehead that we later learned was a mark common for tabbies such as Millie. For us, however, the “M” connected Miriam to her initially (pun intended). When Miriam scooped her up, she nestled in Miriam’s arms, and that was it; she was ours, or more accurately, we were hers.
We were mad about her. She owned the house, and in the evenings, she resided on Miriam’s lap, and woe unto me if I tried to remove her. She was my play-buddy, but she belonged to Miriam.
Well, in 2006 Miriam became an invalid because of severe osteoporosis. She never got well and died that year in August. A few minutes after Miriam died, Millie came into the bedroom, jumped upon the bed, and sniffed her best friend’s face. Then, she turned and walked over to where I was standing, sobbing by the bed, and placed her sweet head under my arm, staying there until I picked her up and snuggled her in my arms. She knew her mommy was dead, and I’ll always believe she tried to comfort me and hide her grief.
Millie and I were joined at the hip, so to speak, after Miriam’s death. A few years later I fell in love with a wonderful woman, Terry, and Millie came to live with us. Even as she grew older she was quite lively. She appropriated my lap and many evenings she would lounge there will I read or watched TV. I love classical music, and from all I could tell, Millie did, too. She’d stretch and listen with me. Although Mozart was her favorite, she seemed to dance when I played Beethoven’s Ninth.
I noticed a few days before she died that Millie was not herself. She stopped eating, purred very little, and hid under the bed, something she didn’t often do, and she stopped curling up with me. Her veterinarian examined her and said it was possible she’d had a stroke. As I held my baby girl and told her how much I loved her and would miss her forever, she looked straight at me as if she understood, and then she turned away and died. I promised her when she was a kitten that I would never let her suffer, and although the vet assured me Millie was not in pain, her quality of life would never be the same. Though she was and always will be my baby girl, she was, in fact, an old lady and it was time.
Her cremains are in a cute little urn on my bookcase, and in a weird way, I feel she’s still here, jumping on my lap and keeping me from writing because, hey, it was her world and she was boss. Yes, unapologetically, I am an anthropomorphizer.
I am reminded of a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” The lives of all animals with which we share this planet are some of the “things that matter.”
Indeed, we are the guardians of all the animals on Earth. We are animals of Earth, but we have a special responsibility to them because of our place in the food chain; we’re not nourishment for other animals. They are nourishment for us. In order for most of us to live, a sentient critter has to die and be consumed. Can we not, at least, kill them in the most humane manner possible? Better yet, can we not adopt a plant based diet, a diet vastly more healthful than one based on flesh?
Plant-based diets would provide more land to use for growing vegetables, fruits, and grains because it takes many more acres to feed-out an animal for slaughter. Depending on climate and location, it takes from two to 90 acres per animal to produce a steer, and about an acre to produce three to five sheep to slaughter. The sum of acres needed for animals surely is in the millions.
Poultry production is hideous. Hundreds, even thousands, of these very sensitive birds are crammed together in coops and made to live in filth and forced to eat until they are sick. Certain breeds of chickens are bred to grow at accelerated rates so they are market-ready in about six weeks. So fast and heavy do they grow that they are unable to walk, but because they are created to never stop eating, they crawl to the feeding trough where they spend most of their lives. Their beaks are cut off so they won’t peck each other, and amputating a beak is tantamount to severing a finger on a human being.
Take a look at the video above: Why I Don’t Eat at KFC Any More.
And, it’s not only KFC; it includes all of the similar outlets for fried chicken. These restaurants order the slaughter of millions of chickens and other poultry every day. Next time you bite into a juicy chicken leg or a succulent piece of turkey, watch this video at the same time.
The meat industry, sans cruelty, might be justified because we’re talking food, protein nourishment needed for our bodies, although protein sources are abundant in plants as well. But, there is categorically no justification for the existence of the fur industry. No one anywhere on Earth needs fur, not even people who live at the North Pole. Many fabrics today are available and are much warmer than fur. The great majority of fur used is to show off how wealthy someone is.
Fur animals are treated worst of all, many being skinned alive. Dogs and cats by the thousands are skinned, and their hides are sold as other, more expensive furs. This industry includes wool, which is often just ripped from sheep in an effort to accommodate supply and demand.
ANIMALS ARE NOT OURS TO EXPLOIT, DEVOUR, OR WEAR!
We are responsible for their care. It says so in Exodus when God commissions Adam to have dominion over them. The word doesn’t just mean power; it also means protectorate. We are to protect them.
If you subscribe to my blog, you’ll read many rants about animal rights, and have an opportunity to view some really disturbing videos among other videos showing victory over some acts of cruelty.
To quote Leyla Hur, “As humans, we are the ONLY VOICE for helpless animals suffering needlessly, for the sole pleasure of human consumption, fashion, and enjoyment.”
I SHALL NEVER KEEP SILENT!
Following are links to four extremely graphic videos showing casual animal cruelty. I dare you to watch this as you eat supper consisting of animal flesh while wearing anything with fur or made with leather.
However, we evolving creatures cannot comprehend time in terms of millions of years, let alone billions. Neither can I. Take my parents, for example. Both were born before the Wright Brothers changed the world forever at Kitty Hawk. Yet, they lived to see Neil Armstrong step on the moon.
In between those events they experienced the world at war for the first time, with my dad fighting in France under General John J. Pershing, and after the war becoming a part of the Roaring ’20s — the Jazz Age, the Age of the Flapper — that opened our culture to obscene optimism that made people unaware that financial disaster approached and Wall Street would tumble-down like Humpty Dumpty’s wall.
Alas, they endured the Great Depression, helped silence the exuberance of the ’20s, as loyal Americans helped win WWII, and put the country back together in its aftermath.
They were born during Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency; Dad died when Jimmy Carter was president, and Mom lived to experience George W. Bush.
My point is that during all that time, the world evolved from horse-and-buggy transportation to almost routine flights into outer space. Yet, my dad’s 77 years and my mom’s 91 were not even eye blinks in the tide of times. So, how can anyone question evolution, which we count in millions and billions of years. To deny evolution is to deny life.
Having said that, another measure of H. sapiens’ evolution is religion. Sounds weird, I know, but the history of human kind shows clearly that religion — no specific faith — is arguably the greatest influence on human culture. No other pursuit or interest to which peoples commit their lives is as strong as religion. That was true in our pre-history as it is today. Yet, unlike the expansion of the physical and mental progression of H. sapiens, a study of ancient religious world views reveals we have not evolved very far from the mouth of the cave, metaphorically speaking.
Follow along. I think this is fascinating, and I think it explains a lot about where we are politically, culturally, and moralistically.
To be sure, we continue to be superstitious, the most salient article of faith of ancient peoples. According to a study produced by Nicholas K. Rauh at Purdue University (http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~rauhn/ancrelig.htm):
In a word, ancient peoples were extremely superstitious. All around them natural phenomena released destructive energy that they could not understand. All they knew is that these forces were greater than human kind. Ancient polytheistic world views focused on the causation and/or the “deterrence” of destructive or frightening natural phenomena. Lacking scientific understanding prehistoric peoples presumed that any force more powerful than humankind — lightening, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. — were inherently divine or the direct manifestations of divine forces.
Okay, having read that, is Pat Robertson of the 700 Club superstitious when he said, “If enough people were praying, (God) would’ve intervened. You could pray. Jesus stilled the storm. You can still storm.”
Was that a superstitious reaction or advice? I’d say a bit of both. Superstition (religious faith) prompted him to say God would have stopped it if enough people prayed. Notice he did not specify which god he was talking about or define enough.
Then, here is the late Jerry Falwell:
AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.
Was Falwell revealing his superstitious bent or was he sure of his God’s existence? Again, no god specified.
Ancient religious peoples, and most ancient peoples were very religious, Professor Rauh says, may have blamed Hadad, the storm god, or Inanna (Ishtar, Aphrodite), goddesses of love and fertility. Maybe the goddesses created gay love to confound human kind. The ancient gods loved to mess with people, especially the Greek gods. Zeus was forever having his way with human women, impregnating them, as Yahweh did Mary, and then bragging about his demigod progeny, infuriating his wife Hera who in turn punished his offspring for their father’s dalliance.
Of course, precious few Christians would call Yahweh’s fecundation of Mary a dalliance, now would they?
However, today, not all superstitions relate directly to religious belief. How many of us at least bow to these:
GRAVES AND GRAVEYARDS
“It is believed to be bad luck to plough up land that has previously been used as a graveyard. It is also a waste of time, as any crops grown on the site will be stunted,” writes Richard Webster in The Encyclopedia of Superstitions.
“Everything inside a graveyard is sacred, and it is bad luck to interfere or meddle with anything found there. … It is unlucky to pick any flowers growing on a grave. … It is particularly bad luck to use pieces of broken tombstones for paths or roads. Frequent accidents will occur as a result.”
Anyone agree with Richard Webster? He is an award-winning, multi-million selling
author, ghostwriter, mentalist, hypnotist and magician. Wikipedia.
OPEN AN UMBRELLA INDOORS
“A common superstition is the belief that opening an umbrella inside a house causes bad luck. The origin of this is that the umbrella acts as a shield against the sun or rain outdoors. To open it indoors offends the spirit of the umbrella, who will cause bad luck to occur as a result.”
APRIL FOOL’S DAY
In the past, very skillful liars led me down the garden path to the bramble bed of fools. My problem is twofold: I trust people and I am gullible to a fault. Here’s what Webster says:
“The custom began in France, in the late 16th century, when the Gregorian calendar was adopted. This changed the start of the New Year from March 25 to January 1. As March 25 coincided with Holy Week, the New Year had traditionally been celebrated on April 1. When the date changed, many peasants paid surprise visits to their neighbors on April 1 to trick them into thinking it was still the start of the New Year. Gradually, the custom spread around the world, and people look forward to this day as an opportunity to play tricks on their friends and colleagues.”
Punxsutawney Phil is perpetrator of a very popular superstition that no one should NOT enjoy, but should NEVER believe. Read this:
A report in the Christian Science Monitor revealed this fun fact: “Flipping through the history books, it seems Punxsutawney Phil has spotted his shadow 99 out of 114 times. That would mean poor Pennsylvania rarely gets an early spring. However, according to the Stormfax Almanac, the groundhog is only right 39 percent of the time — a failing grade in school terms.”
WALKING UNDER A LADDER
Now, maybe this has a practical origin. Walking under a ladder can, conceivably, invite something to be dropped on you. But, no one really knows this one’s origin.
Again, Richard Webster:
“Walking under a ladder is believed to cause bad luck. No one really knows why, but at least three theories have been proposed. The most likely theory is that a ladder forms a triangle when placed against a wall. The triangle symbolizes the Holy Trinity. Consequently, when you walk through it, you effectively insult the Trinity and attract the devil. The second theory concerns the use of the ladder in hangings. The ladder would be propped against a beam to allow the person about to be hanged to climb high enough to reach the rope. A third theory dates back to ancient Egyptian times, when people believed you might see a god walking up or down the ladder while you walked under it.”
I agree, this post is much too long and is only my personal indulgence. I’ll end it here, but pick up the theme tomorrow … or the next day … maybe next week, next year, next decade. Hang around. Come back. Or not.