Saturday, March 18, 2006

I Don't Mean to Harp, But...

Boy do I have mixed feelings about this whole seal hunt business. First, there’s Sir Paul who may be the Walrus. Or was John the Walrus? No matter, Walri and Harp Seals, what a combination!

I am Buddhist person, you know? This killing of seals does not sit well with me for that reason. How I would like it if some other way could be found for people to make a living. But that’s OK, Sir Paul the Fabulously Wealthy Walrus has no problem coming along to tell people how they should live their lives. I wouldn’t mind so much if I hadn’t heard (some time ago) this (admittedly second-hand) story from someone who worked in McCartney’s road crew. Sir Walrus is a vegan. Everybody knows. What everybody doesn’t know is that when you work for McPaul, you also become vegan for the duration of the tour. God help you if you get caught with McDonald’s breath, because Mr. McVegan certainly won’t. In fact, you get tossed out on your ear unceremoniously. In other words, Sir McVegan, the fabulously wealthy Paulrus, not only chooses himself to be vegan but insists, on pain of dismissal, that everyone else be vegan as well. In other words, the Dalai Lama would be unable to work on the McCartneys' road crew.

Sure, I agree, much better if we could all be vegans, or at least vegetarian. But we can’t. We aren’t. Suck it up, buttercup. (A phrase lent to me by my other Buddha-buddy Sheryl (not one of the Hyannis Port Kennedys.)

Meanwhile, there are real, ordinary people earning their livings in a crappy, messy business. Here’s the problem: it ain’t done behind closed doors in a factory setting. Many years ago, I spent a summer working at Lunchbucket’s largest meat-packing plant. I was a little runt then, so I managed to avoid being assigned to the beef or hog kill floor. Still, I know the technique for killing a big cow or hog is not much neater than that for a harp seal. It’s bloody bloody! I did work in the chicken shack, and that was a daily orgy of fowl destruction by the thousands, poor chickens literally scared shitless. But it’s institutionalized. It’s hidden. Our meat comes in bite-sized morsels. Not much to remind us it was once a sentient being. Not so with harp seals. Right out there on the ice floes, snuggling up to Sir Paulrus. Blatant barbarity begging for photo-op. I say, Paul, go check out Tyson, the largest meat processor in the US. If you got a beef, why not take it to them, eh? Tell the meat-sucking Yankee denizens of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, A&W, KFC that they must give up their meat! Go pick on the Americans, eh?…Not bloody likely.

And now we have the Canadian Senate entering the fray, in the form of Gliberal Valkyrie Celine Hervieux-Payette. Here’s, possibly, an example of how much the average American (even in the border states) knows about Canada.

A Minnesota family sent letters to all the Canadian Senators telling them to stop the “horrific” slaughter of lovable seals, and if they didn’t, said Minnesota family would no longer vacation in Canada and also tell all their Murrican good buddies to boycott the Great White (tho somewhat blood-stained) North.

OK, they’re American. American Senators are powerful people…so…Canadian Senators must be the same, right? Member of Parliament? What’s that? Prime Minister? Isn’t that the guy in England? No, no, give them Senators hell!

Anyway, that’s a slight digression. Point here is, Senator Valkyrie took exception to snooty Yanks telling us what we should do, and sent them back a sharp letter in which she said that the really horrifying stuff to her was "the daily massacre of innocent people in Iraq, the execution of prisoners – mainly blacks – in American prisons, the massive sale of handguns to Americans, the destabilization of the entire world by the American government's aggressive foreign policy, etc." Of course, she’s right, if somewhat tactless. I have visions of poor Minnesota kids recoiling in horror at the harsh words of some crabby Senator Valkyrie from that French state up there in Canada. “Hey Mom, what’s she so mad about anyway? All we wanna do is play with the seal pups…!”

Well, at least she’s not the Canadian ambassador to Washington.

All this merely shows that people who live in glass houses…you know. And guess what? We all live in glass houses! I vaguely recall something about questionable fishing practices on the US west coast that was harming…what…whales? Or dolphins…something. It’s bootless and fruitless to start making comparisons.

Let the Minnesotans stay home if it suits em. And Sir McPaul Walrus too. (You may remember his movie theme from the Bond flick, Live and Let Die, which I think won a Grammy…so he doesn’t mind spouting nonsense or things he doesn’t believe in if there’s commerce in it…)

Really, I’d rather play the harp than kill it. You have to give people an alternative. McSir Paul Walrus could donate some of his millions to the Seal Hunt Retirement Fund. The Minnesota family could demand that the US government stop paying billions for foreign wars of dubious morality and use the money it saves to buy every Iraqi citizen a Big Mac. Canada can supply the Timmy's. That kind of good will would be cheap at twice the price.


Anonymous said...

All we need do is make individual seal hunters in to a corporation. A McSeal type corporation. Gather up the seals and drive them to a factory and do what it is done behind close doors in the same way as we handle cattle, pigs and chickens.

Have you ever looked in to the doe like eyes of a cow?

Course Sir Paul has many investments in the corporate world. So the uncoporate world of a seal hunt is a safe target. I don't relish clubbing any life form to death. I prefer oblivion and not knowing my food source.

But all that really isn't the point. Minnesota is the land of lakes and big trees.

Cross the line to Canada, what do you get... Lakes and big trees.

But of course that is discounting Winnepeg and the opportunity to eat at foreign Mac Fast Food and marvel at the custom of putting vinnegar on fries.

Larry Keiler said...

Winnipeg...Slurpee capital of the world!

Anonymous said...

Winnepeg - Minnepolis not much difference other than the Mall of America. Largest cathedral in the world for corporate retail spending.

Larry Keiler said...

Ooooh! I love cathedrals! I feel a spiritual experience coming on.

Larry Keiler said...

Oh yes, once on a canoe trip we camped overnight in what turned out to be a cow pasture/trail/path. Woke up in the morning to cows snuffling at the gates. Yelling "shoo" at them didn't quite work.

Anonymous said...

When I was In Holland, probably close to 30 years ago allready, for a visit to my sister, one of the first things I was confronted with was a group of young people aking me to sign a petition to stop the killing of seal pups in Canada.I refused. Explained to them that many families were dependent on the sealhunt for a living.

And yes, I wish it weren't so. With the right political will it needn't be that way.

How cute they are should not be a reason. It's like urging your cat to catch a mouse, but punishing him when he catches a cute bird.

We cannot live without killing. Be all the vegetarian , vegan you want. Vegetables too are life. They have no beautiful eyes. We cannot hear them cry. There is no blood. Not red, anyway. But do we know what they feel or have an awareness of?

My system doesn't tolerate meat. I haven't eaten it for so long, I don't even like it anymore. But if I did, and if I wanted it, I would not pick it up in the super market. Like I buy my eggs from a farm with free run chickens, I would buy meat from such a farm, probably Mennonite. Although I am not sure that all Mennonites are humane that way.

I do know that for mass production, cattle, fowl, and pigs are mistreated, drugged, violated. They suffer, no less, almost certain, more than seal pups being clubbed, if the death is instant.

It's always a life for a life to live. Humans take more than they need. Or they only take the part they want. Catch a turtle, cut off the part that's in commercial demand, leave the turtle to die slowly.

I would think if coastal people need to kill seals for food and also use the hide for clothes, even handbags or so, that can be sold too, for part of the family income, that would be justefiable.

Mass killing for commercial purposes, more than to stay alive, for getting rich and powerful, creating those who have too much and those who live in poverty... that's what's wrong. Torturing animals is wrong...

The world is so out of balance. People fight against wrongs in one place and ignore suffering in other places...

The intentions of those young people getting a petition signed was good. They could only see part of the problem.

And even though I talk like doing the right thing, I do eat fish and do pick up canned tuna or frozen bluefish from the super market, occasionally. There also is a problem with commercial over fishing...

Man it is hard to be consistant. Especially for poor people...

Larry Keiler said...

W.T., we talk about this frequently amongst the Buddha-buddies. I'm willing to bet Paul McCartney doesn't think of the wholesale slaughter of insects and worms, etc. that occurs in the growing of vegetables and grains. We humans, we sort of can't win. Our bodies need food. No matter what we do, it's going to involve some killing. The best option, it seems to me, is an approach somewhat like the Native Peoples, a sense of gratitude and respect for the other beings sacrificed so that we can eat.

Anonymous said...

Not to forget the harm machinery does. To harvest vegetables, to foresee in the food supply for so many people. How many beautiful, little bunnies are cut to pieces, torn from their comfortable nests, killed or left bewildered. Rabbits, groundhogs skunks, whatever wildlife make their homes in cornfields, beanfields, in the soft earth, in the protection of such growths...

I've heard a lot about the outrage of so many people killed in 9/11. I've not heard a lament for environments distroyed in the war against Iraq.

"Thou shalt not kill" How many people are smug about following that commentment? How many people feel selfrightious about never having taken a human life? It doesn't say in the Bible, "Thou shalt not kill humans." It only states, "Thou shalt not kill." How to take that?

My parents often told me to look further than my nose is long. Advice the whole human race could do with.

Gratitude and respect for life was stressed by Albert Schweitzer, one of the roll models in my life. When he dug holes in the earth to raise poles to build baracks to heal the sick, he brushed any insect life that could be hurt out of harm's way. Snakes and worms, most likely. Let them live... He called it ethics.

Loss of life cannot be prevented. I think that, probably, what is most important, is our attitude toward life and death. It's what is in our hearts that counts. Maybe it's what the
"Little Prince" calls "Matters of Importance."

" You understand... It's too far. I cannot carry this body with me. It's too heavy."
I said nothing.
"But is will be like an abandoned shell. There is nothing sad about shells..."
I said nothing....

And he sat down because he was afraid. Then he said again: "You know- my flower...I am responsible for her. And she is so weak! She is so naive. She has thorns of no use at all, to protect herself against the world..."

"There now- that is all..."
He still hesitated a little; then he got up. He took one step...

There was nothing there but a flash of yellow close to his ankle. He remained motionless for an instant. He did not cry out. He fell gently as a tree falls. There was not even a sound because of the sand.

Here then is the great mystery. for you who also love the little prince, and for me, nothing in the universe can be the same if somewhere, we do not know where, a sheep that we never saw has -yes or no?- eaten a rose...
Look up at the sky. Ask yourselfs : Is it yes or no? Has the sheep eaten the flower? And you will see how everything changes...
And no grown-up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance!"

Larry Keiler said...

What Albert Schweitzer did the Dalai Lama would also call "ethics". There is a sense of "live and let live" to this. Among Buddhists there are many stories of this sort of care for animals. There is a movement among Buddhists called Animal Liberation in which people buy live animals which are about to be killed...for food or for their fur, whatever...and set them free. Fish...people buy them and take them back to the ocean.

My own first teacher, Ven. Wongmo, had her own story. Living in India, she had a large spider which took up residence in her "shower". Didn't like spiders much, but she just let it be. Then one morning she went to take a shower and discovered that the spider had given birth to hundreds of babies. She carefully rounded them up and removed them before taking her shower.

Probably the most famous story is that of Asanga, one of the greatest Indian masters. Sogyal Rinpoche tells this story in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.

Asanga went up into the mountains to meditate, determined to achieve a vision of the Buddha Maitreya (the coming Buddha) and receive teachings directly from him. He spent six years meditating, but with no success. Not even an auspicious dream. He decided to come down off the mountain.

But on the way he met a man rubbing an iron bar with a strip of silk. Asanga asked why he was doing this and the man replied, "I haven't got a needle, so I'm going to make one out of this bar." Asanga was astounded that someone would work so diligently at something so fruitless. He realized that his own task was a valuable and serious spiritual undertaking and he was ashamed at the thought of giving up. So he went back up the mountain.

He spent another three years meditating. Still he achieved no results. Disheartened, he left his cave again. This time he met a man brushing a huge boulder with a feather. This man told him the boulder was so large it was blocking the sun from his house, so he was rubbing it to get rid of it. Again, Asanga was ashamed and returned to his retreat.

But three more years yielded no results. So he left the mountain for good, thinking the cause hopeless. Late in the afternoon he came across a dog whose rear legs were paralyzed. The entire rear half of the dog was festering with maggots.

Asanga was overcome with unbearable compassion and decided he must remove the maggots to relieve the dog's suffering. But then he realized that he might kill some of the maggots. He could not bear this either. He decided the only way to do it would be to lick the maggots off the dog's body.

You can imagine the revulsion that must have come over him. Yet his compassion was stronger. He closed his eyes and bent over the dog. But when he stuck his tongue out, all he touched was the ground. And when he opened his eyes, there was the Buddha Maitreya standing before him.

Asanga asked, "Why didn't you appear to me before?"

And Maitreya answered, "I was always there, but because of your negative karma and obscurations you couldn't see me. Twelve years of meditation removed the scales from your perception enough to see the injured dog. And your overwhelming compassion finally allowed you to see me."

Anonymous said...

Spiders live in my house. I just say 'hello' to them. Sometimes other insects. But that is when it is summer and when I don't want them to stay I bring them outside. I wouldn't do that in winter when they would freeze to death.

But life is a survival game. Our own bodies, the bodies of all living creatures, are built up from microscopical living creatures. We probably kill tons of them when we shower and wash with soap. When we swallow medication or are injected with it, to treat an illness, it is probably mass murder of some kind.

There are always choices to be made.

Do we, because we are humans, have to be better than other creatures? Is our thinking power an asset or a hindrance? I mean in the way of the universe.

I have watched my dog Jody, when I lived in N.B. with her pups. Pups are cute, right? You wouldn't think so when they fight to get to the tit. Survival is all that speaks. They can become little monsters.

Each life form, each species fight for their own survival. That seems to be the God given way. God, in this case not to be pictured as the old bearded man at a cloud throne, but the whole of life, everything included. The whole of life is our teacher, inspires us what to do, leads us. We have therefore the answers in us. We need to listen...

Anonymous said...

Was thinking, being out for a walk with Simon. Simon allows one to think. He's tuned in to you. No holding on leash, force or repremands are needed.

Comparison never fail to go limp, somehow. I was thinking about the dog and the maggots. Licking off the maggots, as far as I can figure, wouldn't keep them alive. You'd have to transplant them to another wounded creature. When you just leave them on the ground, they probably die from drying out in the sun, from drowning in a puddle, or freeze to death in the cold. Whatever. You could lick them off and swallow them, and your stomach juices will do the job.

In "The Black Cauldron" by Lloyd Alexander, The master tells the keeper of the pigs: "There comes a time in everyone's life when you have to be more than what you are."

I wonder if that's where the lesson lies. The man who wanted to do the best for dog and maggots alike, had to make a choice. A choice to the best of what he knew. There are times when we do not know enough to deal with a situation. But something needs to be done. Even if it endangers ourselves, even when it grosses us out, we do what at that moment we believe is the right thing to do in the universe we live in. We have to take a risk, we have to overcome something in ourselves, we have to believe while we are in doubt. I think it is that. The moment of being more than what you are, that the Buddha appears to us.

Anonymous said...

Praise be to God. I mean that sincerely.

Even with all these paradoxical situations - and my hope is in consideration of them - God creates. A deliberate choice made with ultimate wisdom and joy and love and sorrow. The alternative is not to create at all, or to create a universe that is static. Without life.

Samantha says the vegetable likes to be eaten. I've heard that idea before - it is a type of fulfilment. Who knows what goes on in the perception of a vegetable? I once had a mystical experience where I was within a plant - and I knew the joy and busyness of it - how it situates itself towards the sun and experiences it- without words. The sun was so different from what I know with my mind as a person...

And no, I wasn't SMOKING the plant at the time!

Larry Keiler said...

The Findhorn people would tell us that the vegetable certainly likes to be communicated with...not sure about the being eaten part. But the devas always appreciate recognition of their presence.

It would not surprise me to learn that all matter has some sort of consciousness. Not like human consciousness maybe, not the same level, but a different kind altogether. This leads you directly into thinking of the earth, Gaia, as a living organism.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes wonder if our own body, each living body, is not a whole universe. Do I have within me stars and planets, milky ways, and somewhere in there a creature is looking up at that fast sky trying to comprehend what it is all about?

I do believe in Gaia, the earth being a living organism.

Anonymous said...

My eye first read Larry's comment as "Gaia, as a living orgasm."

I laughed outloud, but then thought, hey, maybe that is closer to the truth!!!

And if we are speaking truth, I wasn't just in the plant, I was the plant... sounds so new-agish, but it wasn't at all. Quite a lovely experience.

Larry Keiler said...

Oh! Oh! Oh!
Don't Stop!
Don't Stop!
Don't Stop!
Don't Stop!

(Larry wants to know if he can get a job as Erotica Editor with Harlequin...)

Anonymous said...

Larry, what about writing a Erotica series? You've got a great beginning there. Don't stop now!

I like that you WAS the flower, DT. I so much like "Journey Into Nature", A spiritual Adventure, by Michael J. roads. I do believe in it, but also sometimes there is that little doubt, "Can that really happen?" Your experience gives me the definite yes.

Anonymous said...

It did indeed happen, although I wasn't lucky enough to be a flower. I was a green houseplant of some kind (sheesh, now I really sound crazy, huh?). Green prevailed... I was a leafy thing.... but since I was in side the plant, I was mainly water and nutrients doing very busy plant things...lolololol. I AM crazy! But what was overwhelming was the awareness of the sun in the sky - it's location - turning towards it - it was wonderful.

As for the orgasmic , Larry, if you do indeed write your Harlequin, then ya better come to the Dove Tale editing circles... we wouldn't want to miss it!!!

Help! I've written and I can't get up!