2004-11-19 / On Second Thought

SCPA Award–Winning Columnist Mike Cox It’s not a criticism, it’s an observation. This is how nature really is

Mike  Cox
Mike Cox Soon after the discovery of fire, people began to distance themselves from nature. Our ancestors built better homes, found new ways to control the elements and the animals, and invented devices to further protect humans from the savagery outside.

My father’s generation felt they had tamed nature and claimed the top link in the food chain. As my generation matured, many of us smoked funny herbs and decided to “get back” to nature. We wanted to be friends with the animals.

The result was one of the great disservices Baby Boomers subjected the world to; a simplified, romantic attitude toward wild creatures. We decided man was the most savage of all. We invented personalities for some of the noble animals who shared our environment. We made the wilderness a happy, wonderful place, filled with loving creatures who lived by the golden rule and watched Oprah every day.

My grandparents spent a good portion of their existence trying to get away from nature. Skunks, raccoons, and foxes could come into the house and destroy the winter’s food supply. A person could get a snake bite going to the bathroom at night.

These folks saw what wild animals could do to each other and to humans. They had great respect for the animals in the world, but accepted them for what they were — creatures with no conscience, no feelings, and no soul. Animals reproduced, killed and ate their prey, and hid from their predators. Nothing more.

The enlightened ones who came later never saw a pig being slaughtered or a chicken killed for Sunday dinner. They think meat comes in those tidy packages in Publix. All they know about the outside world is what they see on the nature shows on Animal Planet and PBS. Does anyone consider how they make those shows?

Some PETA reject goes into the woods for a year or two and films everything he sees. He comes back with the film, gets a few editors together, and they come up with a story. They splice the shots together to fit the story, making sure there is plenty of drama, a few heartwarming moments, and some animal sex.

Then they find a writer who can’t get a job on General Hospital because his plots are too far–fetched and they let him write the scenario. Some over–the–hill actor like Peter Coyote narrates this sappy crap and manages to keep a straight face.

After decades of nature shows, attitudes are changing. People treat pets with more respect. We clamor for humane conditions for animals that provide our food. More people are concerned about the environment and the animals living there.

On the down side, fanatical animal rights groups scream that fishing is traumatic to bream. Their daring raids on animal labs result in lost research dollars, and usually, all the animals perish outside the protection of the labs within hours.

We’ve had to put up with starry–eyed activists claiming man is the only animal who kills for sport, sleeps around, and flies into jealous rages. It’s all crap, but the National Geographic specials get goofier and more numerous every year.

Even so, I watch them all. A little bit of education usually slips through. A few weeks ago, Peter Coyote was telling us how wonderful wolves are. Then a realistic scene slipped by the censors.

A pack of wolves was feeding on an elk carcass when a scavenging coyote snuck into the group hoping to get a little to eat. As one, the wolves turned on their cousin and killed him in seconds. The ferocity was breathtaking. Then the pack returned to dinner as if nothing had happened. This is how nature really is; honest, brutal, simple, unfeeling, and impressive as Hell.

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