Monday, August 18, 2014

The Killers Inside Us, Hear Us Roar!

You would never know that we can carry on an intelligent conversation if you had to drive with us yesterday. I once again had to drive Jim to see his eye surgeon because the bubble in his eye made him fret about his driving on the Ohio Turnpike. I thought my ordeal was over but no--so into the breach once again. En route and back I made five driving errors, including almost hitting another car in the Bob Evans' Restaurant driveway and almost paying the state of Ohio double my toll payment for using the Ohio Turnpike.

So what is surprising is that once out of the car, I was actually able to carry on an intelligent conversation over breakfast at Bob Evans. The topic of our conversation was killing other living organisms. What got this going was that Jim just saw his drumming friend who had come into town for a wedding. She told him that she and her boyfriend were in a house in California which was built in an area where rattlesnakes lived. The rattlesnakes still come back and they are divided in opinion about whether to kill them. She says no; he says yes. She does not like killing living things and is a vegan. We've had this come up other ways, such as hearing objections to killing hornets, wasps, or voles. Lest you be thinking these living things do not have the ability to do great damage, samplings of their attacks are shown below.

Over breakfast was the first I had heard the rattlesnake story and Jim wanted to know what I would do if placed in that situation. My fellow predators, shown below, are not having discussions about this, by the way. They are busy just getting the job done, as they were designed to do.

The below image demonstrates that this rattlesnake problem is not limited to Jim's drumming friend in LA.

If you know me well, you know that I would never even consider living where there were rattlesnakes in the first place. So let's assume that I had been forced to live where rattlesnakes hang out. Here is my take on why I go ahead and kill them. By building, buying or renting this house in the first place I have entered their space as a predator. I have come in to take over their place. This is their natural habitat, not mine. This in itself is an act of war. Once you engage an enemy in territory, you have lost the option to fight unless you entered combat with the idea of sacrificing yourself. I am not a martyr. I am a member of the homo sapiens species, a mammal. It is well documented that I am a predator.

I hire an exterminator to kill the rattlesnakes and to lay whatever snares or traps are necessary to keep killing them.  I do not take a walk outside my house without having a loaded gun on me which I know how to shoot so as to kill them myself if I run into one or more. If it is legal to carry a gun with me to the park, I do so.

If you do not want to kill the rattlesnake population in southern California, your best option is not to move there instead of moving there, entering their territory and expecting them to change their natures and leave you alone. So yes, although I am not Oscar Pistorius, I am indeed a killer. I accept the way the universe was designed and play the part I was designed to play in it.

At this point, as I near my conclusion, our waitress shows up with my extra salsa for my omelet and Jim turns to her and asks her, "If you lived where there were rattlesnakes, you'd kill them, wouldn't you?" The poor woman almost drops what she is carrying but Jim simply rephrases and asks her again. I apologize to her while telling him to knock it off. This kind of situation is where he turns into being a Felix and I need to play Oscar and shut him down before he traumatizes someone else, someone besides me.

While eating our breakfasts, I warm to the topic further. I use the colon cancer tumor I had in 2006 to take the living organism to the nth degree. A cancer tumor is a living organism. It has declared war on me by entering my territory (my colon). So I fought back by having it surgically removed and then assaulting it with chemical warfare after surgery (chemo). It was a living organism. If you are against killing living organisms, then you must be against killing my tumor and would choose to die instead if you were in my situation.

Now I'm really on a roll. Next analogy: Do you drink water or use water in cooking? Before water was treated to eradicate living organisms within it, there were cholera epidemics. Huge amounts of people died in cholera epidemics. When we as a species gained the knowledge of how to treat water, we ended cholera epidemics. We waged war against cholera and won it by killing what was in the water. You cannot get around this by buying bottled war. Bottled water also must have anything removed from it which could harm you. This is why you cannot just stick your head into the nearest stream and take a nice drink from it. 

But if you find cancer and water too nebulous, let me assure you that you do participate in killing people. Surrounding every American is a vast structure of defense. We pay for this with our taxes. This structure of defense operates on many different levels. On a national basis we fight wars against other people and kill them. This covers everything from defeating Nazis to killing Osama bin Laden to invading Iraq (yet again).

Should we have let the Nazis live so they could continue being predators or should we have supported WWII and eradicated them as far as humanly possible, like the cancer they were?  Would you have not fought the Nazis simply because they were living organisms whose right to live was sacrosanct? If one truly believes this, then one should stop paying taxes immediately as paying them is the same as paying the exterminator to kill the rattlesnakes.

What is one of our basic failings in society in America? We still have that "can do" attitude about us and this permeates everything. This includes many of us believing that we can change the inherent natures of that which makes us uncomfortable. Yet it is beyond unlikely that the rattlesnake will not try to bite you, the hornet will not try to sting you or the vole will not try to eat your food, destroy your lot or gnaw your tree.

Why are some of us espousing this no killing any living thing belief? I have a theory and everyone is welcome to shoot me down for it here by filling out comments in the comment section. Here it goes:

I think if we do not want to kill living organisms or beings, it is because we cannot accept the universe the way it is, a place where all living things die constantly. Nor can we accept that the world's design is predicated upon one living thing killing another living thing constantly. We do not want to accept the way the world is because it may mean that the world is a cruel place. We don't want to end up like the rattlesnake, the hornet and the vole. Maybe, we think, if we become kinder and gentler, the world will become kinder and gentler too. I too would like a kinder and gentler world. The difference is that I don't think I personally can make it happen.

The central flaw in this no killing any living thing concept is that we did not design and create the world we live in. Since we were not the creators, we do not have the tools to create it in another fashion. It would be an easier task by far to decide that you could repaint MichaelAngelo's work in the Sistine Chapel simply because you could hold a paintbrush in your hand. At least in that hopeless example one could try to recreate the Sistine Chapel because one could hold the brush. One would fail but one could try. We can't even try to recreate the world because whatever brush or tool painted it into existence, we can't even access it.

Or as Richard Preston states in The Cobra Event:

We are finishing up breakfast and I notice the waitress is almost tip toeing to our table to avoid Felix who started this whole rattlesnake discussion. Who can blame her? What is he going to ask her next? She gently lays our check on the table and flees, never to be seen near our table again. We pay at the register and I get behind the wheel again, feeling for all the world like I wish I had a giant swatter so I could squash the gnat that already is beginning to buzz behind me with comments about my driving. "You are not concentrating on your driving. You need to concentrate on your driving." Blah, Blah, Blah.

Yes, I am a predator and I accept that fact. Only the laws which Oscar Pistorius violated are holding me in check so I don't act like the Terminator and zap Felix on the spot.

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