Saturday, May 30, 2009

Animal Killers

by Michael Goodspeed

"There is no anti-depressant that will cure a depression that's spiritually based, for the malaise doesn't originate from brain dysfunction, but from an accurate response to the desecration of life."

-- Dr. David R. Hawkins, Power Vs. Force

What I am about to tell you is horrific, or worse. Not tantalizingly scary like a "haunted house," not distasteful like a rude joke emphasizing the lower bodily functions, not even "shocking" or "sickening" (descriptives best reserved for Rob Zombie movies and the menu at Taco Bell). The author Isak Dinesen commented, "I don't believe in evil, I believe only in horror. In nature there is no evil, only an abundance of horror: the plagues and the blights and the ants and the maggots." Of course, horror exists in (and virtually defines) nature, but the deliberate, unnecessary, brutal theft of a life -- ANY life -- moves beyond the impersonal horror of biologic decay and death, to the realm of DESECRATION, a strictly human behaviour that cannot reasonably be characterized as "natural."

According to the ABC news affiliate KATU (Portland, OR), police recently booked two teenage boys on charges of aggravated animal abuse, after they allegedly scalded a kitten with hot water, then cut off its head with a hatchet. The website reports: "The cat, a black and white named White Socks, belonged to 19-year-old Shaina Nelson. She told KATU News that she came back to her southeast Portland apartment Thursday night and faced the alleged killer.

"'He jumps over the fence...and he goes, 'The cat's dead,'' Nelson said. 'And he had no emotion on is face. No. Nothing. He had no emotion at all.'" (Full story: LINK .

Ironically, the young woman had reportedly been helping out the two suspects, offering them a place to stay in her home. The suspects (allegedly) responded to her kind gesture by inflicting unimaginable pain on her cat and then decapitating it. also reports, "The suspects reportedly told police they wanted to put the cat out of its misery after they burned it."

Above, you can see the mug shots of the two suspects, aged 19 and 18. Just as described by Ms. Nelson, the vacant eyes and slack expressions reveal... precisely nothing. No intelligence, no warmth, no personality, not even a spark of angry defiance. Nothing. Nothing.

I'm not so arrogant as to presume what kind of lives these alleged torturers and killers have led. Maybe they are both victims of unimaginable abuse and thus feel compelled to re-enact their sufferings on others. Perhaps they, like countless millions of American youngsters, have been neurologically, emotionally, and spiritually impaired by rancid cultural agents, including pervasive media violence, psychotropic medications, chemical-laden fast foods, aspartame, fluoride, cell-phones, a collapsed education system, shopping malls, Hannah Montana, etc., ad nauseam. The Internet is an astounding database for evidence of this cultural apocalypse, and I don't feel the need to elaborate on it here.

Instead, I would like to encourage the reader to join me in a moment of honest self-inquiry. Please ask yourself, how does it make you feel to learn of the torture and death inflicted on this animal?

Do you feel angry? Disgusted? Sad? If you are of sound mind and possess even the vaguest respect for non-human life, I'm going to assume that you feel all of the above. (Let me say parenthetically, what constitutes "respect for life" may be a matter of some debate, but it is a clinical FACT that the torture of animals indicates deep-seeded mental illness, and is a reliable indicator of future violence against HUMANS.) So if we can agree that anger, disgust, and sadness are healthy and appropriate reactions to the desecration of animal life, let us go a step further and wonder, why?

Here is a fact that is curious (at least to me): While a domestic animal like a kitten can be a source of great joy and satisfaction for its owner, it does not serve any utilitarian function in human life. In fact, cats as pets tend to create significant burdens -- scratching up furniture, peeing on rugs, killing frogs and mice and birds and leaving shredded torsos on their owners' doorsteps, meowing at all hours, getting pregnant and birthing massive litters, not to mention the vet and food bills that will soar into the tens of thousands before Chester or Abby finally expires.

From a neo-Darwinian materialistic perspective, the human instinct to love and nurture a weak, defenceless animal makes little if any sense. Animals only serve our brute survival by providing food, transportation, protection of home and body, and a few other utilitarian chores (none of which are provided by cats and many other common house pets). How did this joyous, irrepressible affection for essentially "useless" animals "evolve" in a world supposedly dominated by Survival of the Fittest?

Some might argue that the adoration most humans feel for "cute" and "fuzzy" creatures is just a sloppy quirk of the mammalian brain, nothing of any significance. They might also suggest that we are allowed such "indulgences" as affection for pets because we are long removed from the jungle and its relentlessly savage laws. But these notions are totally spurious. Number one, Survival of the Fittest as "understood" by the caveman is understood at least equally by the CEO. The guiding principles of our capitalist society are "kill or be killed" and "screw everyone but me." So from a neo-Darwinian perspective, altruistic behaviours are as anomalous today as they were in the Cro-Magnon era. Consider also that a lot of people love their pets like they do their own children. Some would unhesitatingly risk their own lives to save the life of an animal -- ANY animal. A human being who feeds a starving kitten is not serving the interests of his own body or the interests of his "tribe." And yet for most, the choice to aid a helpless animal isn't a "choice" at all, but simply the very obvious Right Thing to Do. Because it FEELS right. And the alternative feels terrible.

If you meet a friendly dog while you're walking through a park, you don't bother with inane formalities like introductions and handshakes. You just say "Hi there!" and treat him with a touch of affection, as if he were a lifelong friend. We love animals so fiercely because we share with them an easy communion that is almost impossible to achieve with other humans. People have egos, and egos are ugly, defensive, fearful, and more dangerous than the most rabid dog or feral cat. My ego is offended by your ego, and vice versa. I'm not saying that animals are "superior" to humans in any way. I'm saying that the guileless stare of a kitten or a puppy is a perfect mirror reflecting back one's own true essence.

This essence is more than a body, more than humanness, more than animalness, more than instinct and desire and survival and death. It is lovingness, and it is sacred. For a sane person, the act of loving and nurturing an animal is wholly selfish, because of the fullness it provides in one's own heart. Because like attracts like. And that likeness is love.

Except of, course, for those who live in abject denial of their true, loving essence. I dare say that the hollowed-eyed suspects above (if they are guilty) are worthy of pity. C. S. Lewis commented to the effect that evil is not the opposite of good, but the complete absence of it. Anyone who deliberately inflicts pain on an animal has no awareness of love, never tasted it, never extended it, and almost certainly never received it. You might feel compelled to wish these young men to hell, but rest assured, they are already there.

The above story is just another one of those stories that I saved for some reason unknown to me at the time. Lately I see more and more that whatever strangeness that has taken hold of so many of us appears in many ways to be some sort of cleansing and airing of the darkest corners of our psyches. When I was around six years old I found a kitten one day in our back yard. It was a sunny hot summer morning. I wanted to keep that kitten so badly and was afraid to ask my Mother, so I found an old bucket and stuck the kitten under the bucket. It was Sunday and we had to go to church. I planned to ask my Mother to let me keep it and then bring it in the house. I remember running to the backyard home from church, running to that bucket, and turning it over and horror of horrors - that poor little kitten had suffocated to death. It was horrible. I have never forgotten the horror that I had caused it's death. I had only wanted to keep it and love it. I pray that I have been forgiven and I pray that I have forgiven myself.

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