The Magpie and the Cat
Over the summer we had the blessing of having a pair of blackbirds decide to nest in the ivy just outside our bathroom window. This rare opportunity allowed us to see as clear as day the eggs in the nest and ultimately the babies once they hatched. The children found all this very exciting and would check on the nest each day to see how things where coming along. Once they had hatched the children watched in fascination as they where fed, with more than a few "ewwww's" each time I would explain that the parent regurgitates the food into the babies mouth. During this time I would explain to them that a long time ago we as humans had to chew the food our babies would eat because they were not able to do so. These small moments led to times of contemplation, making me consider our position in the animal world as a human.
It reminded me that even though we spend all our time trying very hard to escape the animal world, we ultimately cannot escape something that we are bound to, such is the law of nature. Some time later, i was again led to contemplate the laws of nature.
Once the babies had grown to the point where the nest could not host them any more it was time for them to jump ship. We came home one day to a garden full of babies hopping about which was a great and hilarious sight to behold. The laws of nature had there funny moments it seemed, yet soon the harsh reality of nature was to strike as the magpies became aware that their dinner was on the loose in the garden. The parents jumped into action defending the babies with great efficiency so much so that if my counting is up to scratch after day one the magpies left without food. If the magpies are to survive, something would have to die, be it the babies in my garden or the babies somewhere else. A little later I popped my head out the door to see what all the racket was as I could hear the parents going crazy again (they make one hell of a racket!) to see the local cats sporting with one of the babies attempting to grab one away from the crazy parents.
I reacted. I ran out into the garden, chasing the cats down into a corner of the garden that they couldn't scale the fence of, jug of water in hand. A cat was about to learn that going for the babies in this garden gets you very very wet. Once the cats has jumped ship I sat out back for a bit watching the babies and contemplating what had just transpired. I couldn't help but ponder why I had reacted the way I had with the cats yet not with the magpies. It didn't take long for me to realise.
All of life is a part of nature, from a worm, to a magpie, to a human, to a chemical waste silo. Everything is part of nature - nothing can be separate from it regardless of any negative impact it may have. That said, although everything is a part of nature not everything is completely dependant upon it. The example here is the cat given that due to a level of domestication we have removed some of it's dependence on nature and transferred that dependence onto us. The cats are happy with this arrangement and so are we and so I see no problem there. The problem lies in that although the cat has a known source of food and has no need to source any other, it "decides" to do so. It impacts upon nature beyond it's need. Some of you cat lovers may say that its in the cats instincts to do so but it is not. A cat doesn't hunt because it has to, a cat hunts because it can. Also bear in mind that without domestication that cat would not even be there to impact on the local ecosystem so the whole point becomes moot.
In contrast the magpie is wholly dependant on the local ecosystem, a system that nature has tweaked, managed and adapted to suit all its users so that there is usually a balance of food available to the carnivore/omnivore whilst allowing a certain survival rate to perpetuate the species. It is a delicate balance, one that can be thrown into disharmony if outside factors impact too much.
All these thoughts lead me to one simple conclusion.
We are not magpies, we are cats.
We are a domesticated animal with a difference. Due to our natural strength being our intelligence we have taken a different approach and domesticated ourselves. Whilst the advantages of this are extremely self evident the pitfalls are even more so. Self domestication requires self discipline, self control and we have exuded neither. We behave like the cat but in the extreme. We don't hunt unnecessarily like the cat - we go much further. We capture the parents and cage them, making them have as many babies as we can to support our ever growing numbers. We have perfected this process as it makes the need to hunt them down defunct. The babies are born directly into the cage into which we keep them. Maximum output, minimum effort. We are to be appluaded for such a clever and ingenious idea, and we are to be loathed, feared and condemned for our actual use of it.
The greatest evils in the world are the ones that manage to convince you they don't exist and most of our world goes through it's life day by day oblivious to the underworld beneath it that it needs to perpetuate. We are too wrapped up in our obsession with image, instant gratification and pleasure to actually take a moment to make ourselves aware at the true cost of all this. Yet once you are aware, as a sentient, intelligent being it is then down to you and you alone to decide if you react to that knowledge or not. Sadly many don't for denial is much easier. As they say....
...ignorance is bliss... yet we should remember a saying from Guatama Buddha...
"Every human being is the author of his own health or disease."
No excuses, no exceptions - make your choice for you are the author of your life, no other.