Walt Disney was quite right on one thing. "The world is a carousel of color, mystery, comedy, and fantasy." This is so true and the jingle to the opening of his tv show each week in my childhood reinforced this idea over and over. The natural world that Disney revealed to the audience was perfect, kind, and glorious.
The natural world is just so many, many things. It is beautiful, mysterious, charming, humorous, graceful, enchanting, mesmerizing, amazing, wonderful,etc. The superlatives and descriptions are endless to describe it. As I was to learn later as I grew up and was shown other views, it is also a cruel and very hard thing to comprehend sometimes. In its unbiased perfection, it is a set of checks and balances that we, as humans, judge and give labels to, and morally decide the good guy from the bad, the right from wrong. Nature does not view itself from this myopic view point and has no moral code. It is totally about life and it is about death, and all means go this end. It is about the survival of the best, and eating is at the core of our survival.
This morning began well enough, coffee drank, hat on, out the door I went to start the day. Two of the dogs came up to begin our walk to the barn, with their ritualistic yapping at my heels. Jack was not present and neither was white dog, Memphis. When I turned the corner of the carport I saw why. Jack was urgently gnawing on the remains of a hind leg of a young deer and he looked up at me with a somewhat guilty look. I took it from him in disgust and then saw where Memphis was.
Further down the drive towards the barn she stood pulling at pieces from the rest of the front end of this poor young fawn. Its delicate ears draped to the ground and its beautiful head bent away from her pulls like a woman swooning from a romantic kiss.
I was instantly revolted and sickened by this horrific image, and angry too. Then I began to question both my horror, and more my anger. Why did I find humor in the time she had the dead squirrel and find myself so repulsed by this particular killing by my supposedly domesticated pet?
I live in the world, on this farm with these animals, that most folks read about and never experience first hand. One where death and life are close companions. It is a hard world to really emotionally grasp and I cant' help but be subjective. Exactly why is one animal's life, and its death, more important or different from another? Is it the fact that we relate more to the large eyes of the deer and care little for the furry tail rats? Is size the answer or is it of our emotional attachment to the species? And too, there is the primal thing about watching
a recently live animal being devoured, crunched on, chewed that is deeply disturbing.
I remember so clearly the film Disney did of Bambi and the movie's rude departure from the feel good stories I had viewed previously. The startlement in the death of Bambi's mother, shot by a hunter, leaving the poor fawn alone to fend for him self, really rocked my boat. This unfairness in the course of the natural world had never occurred to me. Until this point I was naively there with Bambi and Flower and Thumper rolling thru the flowers of life, having never thought anything but good was always to happen. Disney had ingrained this into our young psyches on previous works. The devastation, in the sheer concept of Bambi's mother' death , and finality of the pleasantness his young life to that point, was an unexpected eye opener.
I am an omnivore. I like meat. Does my moral compass shift away a bit at seeing this today? Yes a bit. I am glad to be spared the part where slaughter houses do the dirty work to bring my plastic packaged dead animals to my grocery store. On the other hand tho, should I feel any less guilty eating lettuce, ripping the leaves, and chewing them up? Eating is for survival. As humans we have just come up with ways to make food, whether animal or vegetable, pretty and appetizing. We manage to just sweep our little consciences under the carpet, unfold our napkins, and dig in. How different from Memphis are we? Not so much I think.