Friday, January 16, 2009

Sometimes the weather is a legitimate topic

I looked at our outdoor thermometer before I went to bed and couldn't really believe what I saw. It was -28 degrees. The last time I saw a reading that low was in the winter of 1993, when I was raising sheep. I've written about that before, and I'm too lazy to find what post it is, but if you're interested, poke around.

This morning I awoke to Dick telling me that it had gotten even colder. It was -35 degrees. Again, I found it hard to take in that it was that cold outside. Dick's truck was in the garage and he was able to start it, but my car was not, and the engine wouldn't turn over. No matter. I still have a head cold, and wasn't planning on going out in this weather. 'Tis rather a shame though, for experiencing weather that extreme is quite the experience. But I do know what -28 feels like, and somehow I doubt the body can discriminate between -28 and -35. Now I will probably never know if my theory is correct, for it's gotten up to a steamy 0. I'm still staying inside. I'm sitting on a bedwarmer with a heating pad behind my back.

The birds at the feeder were sluggish this morning. I'm so glad Dick put more seed out. The birds need it in this weather. I can see them sitting in the bushes, all fluffed up. Thankfully, there has been little wind. It's amazing that they can withstand this cold at all. Some of them will not make it, however. This makes me sad.

I've noticed that I feel more sadness about the welfare of animals than I do about human beings. I'm hesitating over the delete key, seeing that sentence sitting there. What kind of horrible human being am I?

The truth is, I think this feeling is quite common. Whenever there's a horror story involving animals in the local news, people respond with intense emotion. There's a horror story involving human beings every single day. Maybe we're become inured to the horrors of our fellow humans. Perhaps we also see animals (and babies) as helpless. This is a false belief, for there is an abundance of adults who are indeed helpless in the face of war, starvation, ethnic cleansing, domestic abuse. . .the list, sadly, is very long. We all know it. Maybe we are the ones who feel helpless in the face of all this horror. No wonder we grow numb.

I remember once when I was a child, I saw a violent Western at the movie theater. People were being shot left and right. Then someone kicked a chicken and I started to cry. The other factor, I'm guessing, is that we know full well that the deaths of people in movies are fake, but have a harder time seeing harm to animals as such. To prove my point, think about the fact that we see the disclaimer "no animals were harmed in the making of this film" but we do not see the same disclaimer regarding humans.

So, maybe I'm not a horrible human being. I'm just another regular human being; only somewhat awful.

One last thought (or two) - It seems as if the amount of violent television shows increase every season and the ones which are already violent become more gruesome. Why, with all the real atrocities that are going on, do "we" seem to have a need to watch fake violence? And is my perception that fake violence is on the rise a real one? I think it is. I watch a few violent television shows on a regular basis. I really enjoy Criminals Minds and The Mentalist. The characters are entertaining and the stories are engaging. But why on earth do I subject myself to material of this nature? Last night's episode of CSI (which I watch on occasion) was filled with images of a woman being tortured. The details were gratuitous and I wondered just what I was getting out of watching such stuff.

I do watch documentaries. Again, I'm surprised by my lack of emotional response, but I do feel a sense of outrage. If you haven't seen it, you can view the PBS documentary, "Torturing Democracy", online. If you have any questions about whether Bush and company are war criminals, this is a must-watch.

I started out writing about the weather and wound up writing about torture. From thinking about freezing chickadees to freezing detainees in Guantanamo isn't much of a stretch, now that I give it some thought. I'm sorry if you expected a light post about pretty birds in the snow. You should know by now that you should never assume anything when you start reading one of my blog entries!


TMC said...

I am also an awful human being.

jmcleod76 said...

Me three! Every so often, I hear a story about cruelty or violence against a human that touches me, but animal cruelty sets me off every time ... even when the perpetrator is nature, herself.

About six or seven years ago, I lived in a crappy row building in a crappy neighborhood in the city. I parked my car behind my building, and had to pass through a narrow alleyway to get to it. One week, I found a new dead baby bird lying in my path for five straight days. The first one made me very sad. I went back inside, brought out a paper towel, picked up the tiny corpse and buried it under some dried leaves in my landlord's bushes. I followed this same ritual for each new corpse over the next three days, a little more sad each time. On days three and four, I started to cry a little as I did it. By day five, I'd had enough. When I saw the fifth dead baby bird, I actually sat down in the alley and had a full-blown sob-fest (or a mini mental breakdown ... I'm not sure which). Melissa came out a few minutes later and found me sitting there losing my shit over a dead baby bird. I don't remember what she said or did to get me to stand up and pull myself together, but I eventually did. Those baby birds were just too much sadness for me to handle. I don't know what I would have done if I'd found a sixth one. I didn't.

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