Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fox Hunting

The Reuters news agency reported that in the Republic of Belarus, a wounded fox shot its would-be killer. The man tried to finish off the fox by beating it with the butt of his rifle, but the fox managed to pull the trigger, wounding the man in the leg. The hunter was hospitalized. No word on whether the fox sought treatment.

(Belarus is a country bordered by Russia, Ukraine, and Poland.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Born Free Legacy

If you have any interest at all in PBS's "Elsa's Legacy" (part of their "Nature" series), then you owe it to yourself to forget all about it and watch the BBC version of the same show, which is titled "The BORN FREE Legacy". The difference is beyond belief. Fortunately, some very nice person has placed the BBC version on YouTube, and I have placed all 4 parts of it below. The BBC got it right, and they even live up to the "legacy" aspect of the title. So far, only 339 people have watched it all the way through on YouTube; but this is the version of the show we should have been shown on PBS. Please watch and recommend this BBC show to everyone you know.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Elsa's Legacy

Elsa & Joy AdamsonPBS is running a show this week (the exact day depends on where you live) called "Elsa's Legacy", Elsa being the lion made famous by "Born Free".

I can't go on without giving a too-brief critique of the show. I have serious doubts about whether whoever wrote the script of the show (there is no writer credit given) ever saw the movie or read the book. Over and over, "Born Free" is referred to as a "fairy tale" and a "myth". Why? The writer seems to be of the opinion that "Born Free" presented some phony view of Elsa and the whole process she and the Adamsons went through in teaching her how to live in the African bush. The examples used to illustrate this point were, in actuality, all dealt with in both book and movie. I don't understand the cluelessness of the narration. (And very laughable was the picture used to illustrate the dangers of wild lions when they encounter an intruder: two lions mating.) Christian playing soccerThey also mixed pictures of the lion Christian (ca. 1971) in with the recounting of the making of the movie "Born Free" (ca. 1965)--but I suppose one lion is interchangeable with any other to most people. This is all the more a shame since one of the points they hammer home is that "Born Free" was the first time anyone considered that animals were all individuals with unique personalities.

Naturally, it wasn't the first time anyone had that idea, but it may be that the movie "Born Free" brought that idea to more people than anything that came before. The show ends by asking the question, can we rekindle the passion for lions that the movie instilled in people?

Christian & Tony FitzjohnStrangely, given the show's title, they never really explore Elsa's legacy. And it is a great legacy. Not merely the Born Free Foundation but also the George Adamson Wild Animal Protection Trust (which was not mentioned). Many people are carrying on George Adamson's work in rehabilitating animals to a natural life, and not just lions. And there is the story of Christian the lion, which set the world on fire just a couple of years ago, and which would have turned out very, very differently had it not been for Elsa.

Elsa and the Adamsons have made a change in the world, and all for the better. The reaction to Christian's story shows that people can get passionate about lions, and "wild" animals, thus continuing the good that Elsa started.

ChristianPeople need more opportunities to see more animals as they actually are, and observe their natures for themselves. I believe the passions will then arise naturally.

Born Free BookBorn Free DVD

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Life, and Consciousness, and Equivalency

I got to thinking about the physical sciences and our ingrained worldviews.

Physical sciences tell us that all there is is matter and energy (and Einstein told us that the two are actually the same).

Take carbon: Coal - Graphite - Diamonds - Whatever its appearance, no one will tell you that it is alive. Nor is oxygen. Carbon and oxygen do not willfully combine to form carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide, or anything else. The same things can be said for hydrogen, nitrogen, or whatever element you choose.

These elements are not alive, but put them together in the right combination and you get Life.

How does Life happen? There is no physical answer for that. But we know what Life is; we recognize when something is alive. Alive means consuming, growing, reacting, reproducing. And we have no problem allowing that a butterfly is just as alive as a human.

We also know what "consciousness" is (never mind philosophical attempts to obfuscate the idea). You know you are conscious, or else you wouldn't be translating the pixels on your screen into words and those words into concepts that I'm trying to communicate.

But for some reason society, and science, and religions all want to put a fence around consciousness, and not allow it to any other life, just humans. All those defining forces of our lives constantly beat this idea into our heads, that only humans have conscious intellect.

Yet, those people who have first-hand experience with animals know differently. They know that the animals they interact with are just as capable of thinking, feeling, and loving as they are. And yet the concept of a barrier between conscious and non-conscious life is so ingrained that it doesn't usually disappear completely, even for such people. The barrier gets stretched, pushed outward, to allow some animals in, but not all of them.

In his book Kinship with All Life, J. Allen Boone describes how he established a relationship with a house fly. He and the fly had a real responsive relationship. No one can reasonably deny that this is true--to do so would be to deny this man his own experiences when he gives no evidence of being other than intelligent, reasonable, and articulate. So to deny what he says about the fly and its ability to have a relationship with him would be to say that you know more about his life than he himself did, which is simply ridiculous.

So if the barrier that allows consciousness can be stretched so far as to allow house flies into the exalted realm, surely by that point it must be stretched so thin as to fall apart completely.

In the light of all the experiential evidence that exists, would it not be more logical to assume that all forms of life have consciousness than to assume they don't?

Then why is the idea of the separateness of humans from the rest of nature so very difficult to shed?