Saturday, January 31, 2009

the animal in man...

Today I came across a story on TV5Monde, a french broadcast station also available in the United States, concerning some photographs of unusual animal behavior. Apparently these photographs were taken in France, and the photographer sold the pictures to a national newspaper (perhaps Le Monde, Le Parisien or Le Figaro?).

Here in the first picture, a female barn swallow is injured and the condition is fatal. The news report stated she was hit by a car as she swooped low across the road.

Shortly thereafter her mate brings her food and attends to her with love and compassion.

He brought her food again but finds her dead. He tried to move her...a rarely-seen effort for swallows

Aware that his companion is dead and will never come back to him again, he cries with adoring love. Barn swallows mate for life, as do many other species of birds, including swans.

He stood beside her, saddened of her death. Finally aware that she would never return to him, he stood beside her body with sadness and sorrow.

He stands vigil to his lost companion.

Human beings believe we are superior to the animals with whom we share this earth, but I believe we are not. In a lot of ways, they are like humans. They have feelings and some intelligence. The animal is seen as an elemental reduction of the human, stripped of all extraneous complication. We name sports teams after rams or bulls and automobiles after cougars or jaguars. Our language speaks of crocodile tears and fish eyes. Humans seem to have an innate capacity to project human characteristics in this way. 

Most cultures possess a long-standing fable tradition with anthropomorphised animals as characters that can stand as commonly recognised types of human behaviour. Its sad to see them mistreated. In social situations people dissemble, distort and posture, hiding weaknesses, scheming to alter perceptions. Animals do not. In their realm resemblances are revelations, eliminating ambiguities and uncertainties. Most animals don't foul their own nests or their habitats, but consider what a mess we humans have made of them. Animals have much to teach us, if only we would open our eyes and hearts to learn. 

Dedicated to Oreo, Skip, and Bear along with conejo, the greatest of them all

Don't approach a goat from the front, a horse from the back, or a fool from any side.”

~Yiddish Proverb

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