Friday, November 25, 2005

That's Entertainment

U.S. soldiers discovered two endangered cheetah cubs being held captive and abused in a restaurant in this dusty, remote Ethiopian village.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this story but I am still appalled. Appalled by humanity's graceless and callous treatment of nature's creatures. Of course, such despicable behaviour is merely symptomatic of our general disdain for the natural world writ large.

But still, I can no more understand how anyone would enjoy watching cheetah cubs fighting than I can understand any of the other dreadful amusements human kind have manufactured at the expense of the animal world; cock fighting, dog fighting, and lord knows what other awful kinds of gaming that have been dreamt up for no other reason than diversion and entertainment.

One might contort thoughts to find some justification that this sort of behaviour is the product of poverty and desperation. But I would rather not hear such tortured arguments. I want to reach into this picture and slap the bastard with the very hand he is using to beat the innocent and already brutalized cub.

But perhaps more alarming is that this deplorable sight is actually being done for the entertainment of the small children of this poor village. And, judging from the picture below, they appear to be enjoying the show. We can't possibly expect this to have a positive effect upon their outlook on nature's creatures or the environment which these children will grow to inherit. The message seems clear enough: our abuse of the natural world is not a concern but, rather, something we do for our own enjoyment. Pain and suffering are simply vehicles by which we can enthrall ourselves at the expense of other, less capable beings.
Of course, we know well that humans have an astounding capacity to abuse each other and everything else around us. The events of the world today speak volumes about that. We'll dump phosphorous on children, burn them alive and pretend that it isn't all that bad. We'll watch a city flood, bloated bodies will bob in the fetid water and the president will strum a guitar, showing little awareness and no real concern. We'll go to war, kill untold tens of thousands and say that it is all for the greater good. We'll gut the sea and everything in it, tear tops off mountains, slash and burn vital forests, foul the very waters we need and say that our consummption must be maintained; that it is our right no matter how wrong.

Perhaps with all the larger ills of the world, the abuse of two cheetah cubs seems small and petty. And it may be. But it speaks as a metaphor to our larger failings as stewards of this earth and each other. Will we ever stop acting like those children who seem so amused and unbothered by the sight of small, starved creatures tearing each other up?


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