Warning! Off topic post, do not read if you get teary eyed just thinking about things like Ol' Yeller and Bambi.
This morning, I had a heartbreaking experience. (Also gut wrenching... literally)
This morning I found a fox on the front lawn of the house in which I am currently residing. A little red fox. Lying in a pool of his own blood, sick, probably dying. His tail has been cut off, and, his right front paw is horribly mangled.
People, some people, heartless sicko BASTARDS like to set clamp traps set with bait to catch foxes and they cut off their tails. Some times they take the whole skin. Mostly, it's just the tails. Some times they kill them out right, other times, like this one, they leave them alive for the time being, releasing them, leaving them to what ever horrible fate awaits.
I tried to get my wife to pick the little fella up, but, she got scared and sqeamish. It hurt like hell, with just having my stomach stitched back up, but, I hunkered down, covered him with a towel, and got him scooped up and carried inside.
He is on the back porch now, he yelps and whimpers a bit. And I gotta do the right thing. I called the wildlife foundation. They said that the best thing they could do was put him to sleep. With out his tail and a good working paw, he has little to no chance of survival out in the wilds. I was also reminded it is illegal to keep wildlife. I said screw you asshole and hung up. My vet friend will be out tommorow. My guess is, the paw will have to be amputated.
The little fella don't seem to want anybody but me touching him. He does not seem rabid, I am a little worried about that. Been being extra careful. Already got his wounds disinfected and cleaned up as best I could. Got him fed. I dunno how good it was, or, how much it helps, but, I have a high protien mix suppliment used to nurse wild baby birds back to health (I am licenced to do that and have done so on many occasions) I mixed it with a little cat food and a can of condensed milk. He seems to like it quite a bit, and, after eating two meals, has perked up considerably. He has been clubbed in the head I think (After somebody found him in the trap I reckon, they conked him silly to cut his tail off) and he has a huge knot above his left eye. His poor little head is so swollen he can barely open his eyes. He mostly just lays there, his breathing heavy and laboured. He has lost a lot of blood. There is a long trail of blood coming out of the woods and a big puddle of blood where he collapsed in the yard. I got him cleaned up a good bit too, got all the dried blood out of his fur. He yelps a bit when I touch him, but, so far, he has not tried to bite or nip. Not so strange to me really, as I seem to have this thing with animals. It's a proven fact I get along better with critters then people.
Not quite sure what to do, vet friend said he might know somebody who will take him in, make sure he has a good life, but, it would depend on whether or not they have an opening. If not... Well, there is no other option. I will not allow the poor little fella to be put to sleep just because some demented asshole disfigured him and ruined his life. So... I guess once again I might have to break some silly law and keep him, as if that would be a wise thing to do. Not sure what to do actually. All I know is, I will have to do the morally correct thing, and, that means choosing life above all other options.
I am not the violent sort... I don't like the idea of hurting other people, it makes me sick, but, I would like to see the jerks that do this sort of thing get their scrotum caught in a clamp trap and leave them to ROT IN PAIN like they deserve. Forgive me for my anger and wishing another human to suffer, but, I am quite enraged right now. It's one thing to hunt for food, it's another thing to remove certain animals for safety (Like snakes, but, I always eat anything I kill) but to sensesly kill something just for the pelt or the tail, that's just sick.
What would you do? Do the right thing and choose life, or, would you follow some stupid law and turn the critter in to have it's life ended? Would you be this angry?
Forgive the foul language but why the fuck isn't anyone allowed to take care of a poor mangled, tortured wild animal? It's not like he's going to turn into a Godzilla and start eating people! You (and your wife) are the ones that are taking the risk! Nurse the small thing and give him/her a nice name :P
Where I live, you can get up to TEN years and up to 25,000 dollars in fines for keeping wild animals as pets with out a special wildlife licence. Sure, you can murder somebody in cold blood, and, with a little luck, you go to Perry for two and a half years, brown nose a little, and, get out on the Working Parole Program.
I have considered getting the licence, but, I remember all the headache and hassles it took to get my songbird rehabilitation licence. They actually penalize kind hearted citizens who wish to help out, costing them obcene amounts of money, endless paperwork and hoops, and, a bizaar need for a complete and total background check. I guess they don't anybody with black market ties selling songbirds to local criminals and making a bloody fortune at the birds expense, or some such crap. It is UTTER CRAP. Plain and simple. IIRC just the initial fee to get the ball rolling was over 900 bucks, and, this was a looooooong time ago, it's probably even more expensive now.
I don't want to name the little fella just yet, as I do not know if I will be keeping him for sure. If he can get a home with the rehab person that my vet friend knows, well, he is going to that place, plain and simple. He would be happier there, as I am told there are other foxes. However, space is limited. New spots come available regularly, as animals are rehabilitated and then used in educational programs to teach folks
What I want to teach folks is how not to do stoopid shit like what caused this whole mess in the first frigging place. I aint got no problem with people trapping animals they plan to eat, I find the method rather cruel, but, feeding your family is important. Hunting the animal down fairly is much more honourable. Believe me when I say this, hunting is vital down where I live for many families. Bagging a deer or two is what feeds the wife and kids through hard times. This is a very boonyish area. Backwoods. I find no fault with that. However, cutting off fox tails to make 10 bucks is just plain WRONG. Period. No ands ifs or buts. And having your horrible deed and it's consequences land in my front yard makes it even worse, as my wife is rather traumatized that some place out there, there is some sick twisted asshole that would do this to some cute cuddly fox... It makes her sick. Physically ill. She wont stop crying and it's getting on my nerves something awful.
I am one very irritated and angry little man at the moment.
there is some sick twisted asshole that would do this to some cute cuddly fox.
Why does the "cute cuddly" aspect matter?
If god looked after only the cute and cuddly whatevers, you'da been done for long ago, Doc. Right?
Your fox had a will to live. He crawled to the one spot where somebody would look after him. That's a pretty smart fox. And he's letting you care for him. Not that he necessarily has much choice, as he may be too weak to resist, but... yeah. I agree you won't ignore him, and god knows that, too, so go with caring for him and doing as much good for him as you can.
I know you feel justified in the anger, but it's not worth it. The fox is a living thing, and its suffering may seem irrationally unnecessary. However, I'm not so sure these folks intended cruelty. There's a difference between indifference and torture. If they turned the fox loose with the intent to see it suffer, for the "thrill" of dominating a little fox with that kind of "playing god", then yeah, they have some cosmic justice coming their way. On the other hand, you don't know for sure, and is it your place to leap to conclusions and pass judgement? They might have thought they knocked the fox out and that he'd bleed to death before he ever woke. You're entitled to your opinions about the "necessity" or lack thereof in taking the fox's tail, but I'm afraid that logically speaking, your position has all kinds of holes in it.
Is everyone who swats a fly or purposely steps on an ant a "sick twisted bastard"? If not, why not? Aren't those living things, too? Do human beings have the right to kill ANYTHING? Ever? If so, where is the line to be drawn and who draws it?
Hunting's OK for food, but not for pelts? So it's fine if they kill if they "have to do it" to eat. Well... really now. Boondocks or no, there are other ways to eat in this country today, so labeling hunting for food as "necessary" just because folks in your area tend to do it a lot, and have traditions of doing it, may be just a convenient "exception" in your mind. If folks worked harder, or picked up and moved to where there are more opportunities, they could eat in other ways. Isn't that true? "Necessity" is not clear cut.
The vegans at least are consistent. They view animal killing as wrong, period. No justifications, no convenient exceptions, no extra investment in the "cute, cuddly" species. They don't eat meat or any animal-involved foods (milk, etc), try to avoid using products that involved animals in their making, etc. I respect the consistency of that position, and I also measure my own views on the issue by that yardstick.
You portray this as a "clear moral choice". I don't see it that way. There are countless (COUNTLESS) living things on this earth that are suffering as we speak. Some of them are suffering horrible pain, most of it the result of the natural order of bigger things eating smaller things. Some are animals suffering at the hands of humans who are being intentionally cruel, while others are suffering at the hands of humans who are being indifferently cruel. Some of the suffering ARE human beings.
You can't help them all. You can choose to help some of them. The resources you spend on the wounded fox could go to some other cause. So then what? Are you going to look at everything in terms of "clear moral obligations" that in fact rely on pure circumstance? The fox has crossed your path. What's the REAL difference between that fox and any of the others who died out in the woods from the same mistreatment? Only that this one is closer. This one has found its way to your attention. Then what? You're obligated to rescue the ones that you notice, but free to ignore the ones you don't notice? Wouldn't the clear moral choice take you out into the woods every day hunting for wounded foxes to nurse? Even if you had to drag an IV bag with you and hire someone to carry enough towels, antiseptic and premixed cat-food nutrition?
You know, I put my cat down last year, Doc. My buddy of twelve years, I've talked about him with you a bit. I could have chosen to spend $1000 to have them cut off his jaw, then forcefeed pills down his throat for a while to keep him alive a little longer. Since I COULD HAVE gone to those lengths, by your standards, I'm sort of moral inferior, possibly deserving of a slice of your wrath. I had an animal killed. My pet, my choice. According to you, the only moral choice is life at all costs. One more thing on which we don't agree.
I don't see it as a question of "worth", nor as a question of rigid morals. It's a choice.
I could have chosen to EXTEND my cat's pain and suffering. I did not. I kept him while he suffered through the cancer, not knowing exactly what was wrong but knowing that he was failing in health. I nursed him around, held him more, appreciated what I knew was the last of my time with him. Then when he showed me that his suffering was growing unbearable and that he lost the will to eat, lost the ability to endure without it really driving him crazy, I made a choice for him that he could not make for himself: to exit quickly. I don't see that in moral terms. It's a choice.
Like where you choose to spend your money, this is just another choice. There is no "right" answer. One way values the length of life more. The other values quality of life more. Is a few more moments of life worth ANY amount of pain and suffering? I don't think so, but that's just me.
The will to live is like any other drive. There is an element to the body itself that chemically, electrically causes urges. If we are of the spirit, we can see value in overriding the body's urges at times. For example, in not being led around as a man by a certain bodily appendage with "a mind of its own". If there is such a thing as an inappropriate urge of that sort, or of a "right" choice to defy that urge, who is to say there is never an appropriate time to defy the urge to live? The choice should never be made lightly, but it should not also be dicated to you.
You can love the fox by nursing it. You can also love the fox by killing it. It all depends on what you choose to value the most. That may run counter to what you've been taught (which may involve the idea that all choices can be boiled down to right vs wrong, when in fact there is such a thing as the greater of two goods and the lesser of two evils), but have you really thought it through?
Forget the "moral" choice here. Even choosing to ignore the fox and leave it to fend for itself could be a moral choice. How? If the cost for you to do any of the options presented to you is higher than you should be paying. What if the fox IS rabid and you or your wife gets bit? Then where would you be? And again, if you spend $1000 on a wounded fox, you are choosing the fox over any other number of choices to help those in need. I don't see how you'd be morally corrupt to let the fox die, and choose instead to put your resources to other things.
In my humble opinion, you CHEAPEN the value of your choice to cast it in the light of being predestiny, with only one "right" option and this being like a pop quiz from god that you either pass or fail. If that were me in your shoes, I may or may not make the same choices as you, but I would do it as a CHOICE. I would choose to nurse the fox, choose to end its suffering, or choose not to interfere. Whatever, I would choose, and take all the responsibility for the choice onto my own shoulders.
You've been presented an opportunity to learn more about yourself here, Doc. About what you choose, and why, and what you think it means, and... perhaps, how what it may really mean can differ from what you have always thought.
The real moral dilemma here for you, Doc, is not the fox at all. It's the whip. It's your sense of being justified in righteous anger, to pass judgement on others, to set them up as your opponents so you can wade in and give them Hell.
You're running out of chances on this lesson. Are you sure the fox didn't volunteer (in a cosmic sense) to suffer this fate and end up at your doorstep? I mean, this one message must be pretty important to god if He would allow a fox to be mangled like that and then inspire the poor thing to crawl right to your door just to hand you one more chance to choose differently here. Hmm? And if you pass up THIS chance to leave that whip alone, how much more blunt will the opportunity have to be next time to try to be more plain to you?
Nurse the little fellow -- it's what you want to do, and there's nothing wrong with that in my book. He certainly deserves care. He's a living thing, cute or not. That's good enough, even if you want to spend big buckaroos on him. Your money, your time, your house, your right to choose. But don't use the little guy as fuel in your lifelong issues. I ask you to pause a moment to reflect, rather than just to react, and consider that god's plan in this event may be more about you than about the fox.
While you might be correct on some levels for some of the things you said, there may be more looking into this then needed. Then again, maybe not. It's a can of worms really, pure and simple. Ugh.
Cute and cuddly or no, life is a good thing, as is the continuation of life. Yes, I kill the various copperheads and cottonmouths and water moccasin snakes around here. Is it justified? Well, on the simple level, maybe. It seems so. In the bigger picture, who knows? Those critters pose a real threat. To children. Farm animals. Goats, chickens, dogs. Other folks. I guess it boils down to the greater good. Oh boy, that really opens up a can of worms eh? Shall we go there? Is the life of a child or a goat or a cow or a person worth more then a snake? Well, I dunno. Snakes make for good eating, lowers the food bill a bit with fresh meat, and, lets face it, hospitals and funerals aint no fun and are mighty expensive. My ideas? There aint no clear cut answer... Or maybe there is and maybe I am a bit to country dumb to see it.
In the most simple boiled down terms, it landed on my front lawn and therefore, the issue was forced on me to deal with. It would not matter if it was a fox, a person, or even something that somebody might think was really icky like a bat. I would feel some sense of obligation to do something, lest I go around feeling like a total shit for doing nothing at all. And that is my general philosophy on these sorts of issues, much like my running of the homeless shelters and such. I provide the facilities. If something comes to me, I feel some obligation to do something about it. Those are the things I can control, and, therefore, deal with on some level. The things outside my sphere of influence, well, those are things out of my reach, therefore, somebody elses obligation to do the right thing.
As for your cat, that was the responsible if somewhat painful thing to do. Cat lived a long full rich life, and, you provided care within the limit of your available resources. When those resources expired, you did the best with what you had and made the choice from there, a tough choice, but, like any other choices, it had to be made. It would have been far worse to do nothing. When asked if you could do more, I am sure you could honestly say no... Not with your available options and resources, therefore, you did the morally responsible thing.
As for the folks around here that hunt, well, I guess you would have to live here. Most folks aint educated enough to have a better job where they can afford to live where there are better resources and have more options. Some people choose to live a simpler life. Some seek a more satisfying path. Like me for example. When I had my old house, I smoked my own meats for preservation. I made my own cheeses. I baked my own bread. I made my own jams, jellies, and preserves. I canned quite a bit of my own food. Does that make me stupid for not going to the store and buying those things? I have a Ph.D and am financially secure for the rest of my life, so, I must have some measure of brains and some bit cash stored away... So why on earth did I not go to BiLo or Publix or Winn Dixie and just buy everything my heart desires premade? Why did I hunt? Why did I keep pigs and cows for a while and slaughter them when I needed meat? Well, I have my reasons. Most folks think I am some country dumb hermit. Let them think that. Let those ignorant types go to their wonderful supermarkets... Meanwhile, I will be at home with my superb smoked ham and home made cheese on freshly baked home made sour dough bread. Or let them think I am an ignorant twit for taking in some poor fox that stumbled into my yard. People are free to think what ever they wish. As am I. Not saying that you think this Sirian, but, there are those that probably will. I just might be some dumb hick that pisses off of the porch... But we backwoods types have a certain decency that I find lacking the moment I step into some civilized place like the supermarket.
I know I might be rambling here, hell, I am rambling, but, while I am on the topic of supermarkets, how many folks actually feel grateful to see all that food? Lemme guess, most folks see all that and probably have trouble deciding what to buy, what's the best, and, never give one thougt to what it's like to go hungry or even have food in abundance. Or worse still, just what size of a load they would drop in their pants should one day they go to the supermarket and find it empty. How many people depend on others making even the most simple of foods, bread and the like, for them... I feel for those folks... I really do. People go to the store and see shrink wrapped unrecognizeable meat, just an object really, and never once actually think of the animal that gave it's life so that others might eat and allowing life to go on. Stores are TO clean and sterile. They take all of the experience out of what it means to live, to eat, to continue life and see the value and feel the gratitude of what we really have. Now, somebody goes out and slaughters a cow, butchers it, carves out all those cuts of meat themseles, they suddenly gain a new prospective on how things are... Preprepared stuff in the stores ROBS people of this wonderful experience. Should there ever come a day when those resources are not there, lots of folks suddenly going to be in a world of doodoo.
And it boils down to foxes I guess. What it means to have the power to both take life, to continue life, and, preserve life that it can go on. We should never take unless we can give back. I take meat. And I eat it. You can't grill it till you kill it. For my own morals, I should offer something in return for the abundance offered up to me, and, here we are, back on the fox issue. Here is my chance to offer something, anything, even something so small, insignificant and meaningless as the life of one little fox. Maybe balance is the word I seek here. God saw fit for many lives to be lost so that I, and many others might eat. Eat flesh. Consume what at one time was alive. Here is a chance to have mercy, to restore life, to offer something of value in return for all those blessings bestowed. I guess that is where my anger stems in the senseless act of somebody brutalizing this poor critter. That person, whomever it was, was nothing more then a selfish taker... Probably offering nothing in return.
Is it justified that I take life? Is it right I kill the venomous serpent that threatens the life of so many more? Is it a question of balance? To preserve life? On the same hand out in the middle of freakin nowhere where those snakes can do little harm to anybody or anything, I have actually stopped the car inspite of much protesting to go and remove them from sunning them selves on the road so they don't get run over and killed. It's my neck on the line there... One bite, one nibble, and, hell, I might as well cash in my chips. When there is little harm that snake can offer to others, I risk harm for my self so the snake can continue on his life. To others, is probably meaningless. (Folks, DO NOT do this... I have been handling deadly dangerous snakes since I was a boy still in my single digit age) Does any of this even make sense to anybody but me? Probably not.
Life, in any form, veggie or animal, is a wonderful thing. You should not end life unless you can offer something in return. If you plan to rob an apple tree of it's future offspring, to eat the tree's reproductive organs for crying out loud, at least offer something in return. Plant a few seeds. (Yet another point where vegos don't seem to have it all together... It's wrong to kill and eat an animal, but, it's perfectly ok to rip what is basically a vagina off of a living thing and eat it for your own continuation... And I am the sicko for eating meat.... ooookay... Somebody rips my reproductive organs off to eat with out killing me first, I would be very very angry... Probably angry enough to maim you in return if I could)
Ok. It's 1 am. I will get off my soap box now. Thanks for the thought provoking post Sirian, forgive my disjointed ramblings.
While you might be correct on some levels for some of the things you said, there may be more looking into this then needed. Then again, maybe not. It's a can of worms really, pure and simple. Ugh.
No matter your age, it is always worth pausing to take a fresh look at your beliefs, see what you have there, and poke and prod them a bit in search of leaks.
You volunteered up a list of reasons and rationales for your choice. So I bounced back with a look at that from another angle. I don't expect it to cause you to alter anything whatsoever about your relationship with the fox. Just that you are one eager puppy when it comes to having issues to rail against, and a lot of that stress is wasted energy.
"Giving back" in exchange for taking life is, in my understanding, a basic tenet of native american spirituality. The idea is around other places, too, but that's where I know it from best.
My version of the concept is not so specialized, though. I don't tie the responsibility to "give back" to the notion of taking life. I tie it to the notion of living life. I also don't view it as obligation, but as opportunity. As you know (somewhat), I have my own ideas on spiritual matters.
Now unless you invite me to hush up (which you actually did once, but then changed your mind) I plan to keep shining attention on this element (the whip). On the up side, I did not notice you using it much in regard to your recent operations. I believe you still think you're at your best and most effective when you lash that thing around and make a lot of noise with it, but as you may know by now, I see your successes coming in spite of that, not because of it. You have an enormous pool of love and compassion and courage locked in there, which I see as the true and only source of your personal power. You tap into that in all sorts of ways to all kinds of effects, which usually blows past the rough edges to do plenty of good. Usually. That's pretty much how I also see myself, with my mix of results and the inescapable conclusion that all the damage done in passing comes only when I lapse into temptation to crack my own whip around. Sometimes it takes a no-nonsense approach to get results, but that's too easy to confuse with the blunt force approach. They are not the same, and I hope to see you realize that at some point, and be able to tell the difference.
That person, whomever it was, was nothing more then a selfish taker... Probably offering nothing in return.
There it is again. The presumption. Yeah, could be, but you don't know for sure. Do you? So... are you ready to cast stones?
They took the fox's tail. They apparently had a reason to attack the fox: for its tail. You may not agree that that was just cause to harm the fox, but foxes get into livestock in some cases, carry diseases sometimes. I'm not saying it's wrong to value the fox, but it's not a no-brainer. Speaking strictly from the sense of the fox's perspective, the fox doesn't care whether or not they had reason. The fox was living its own life, and was hostilely attacked to have its life ripped away for its body parts to serve some function to some other life form. Well, if that's bad, why should the reason matter? And what does the fox CARE as to whether or not the person(s) who did that to it "feel remorse" for it. They still chose to do it, and it's done now. Selfish takers or devout spiritual folk who prayed before, during and after the event, what difference does that make to the fox?
The fox feels pain. It bled. It suffered. That is something you and I can relate to, because we also bleed and suffer, and we know it's unpleasant. The "golden rule", directly or indirectly, leads us to identify with the fox, to question the rightness of our own actions or those of others who did things to the fox we would NOT want done to us.
On the other hand, that fox is also a taker. He has killed to eat. He may even have killed more than he truly needed, or killed for sport, or "practice". If the fox had a rabbit in hand (don't know if foxes eat rabbit, but for the sake of argument) would you then berate the fox? Attack him? Try to save the rabbit? If you do so, would you not be choosing the rabbit over the fox? Would it not also be good to choose the fox over the rabbit, and let the fox have his meal, even if the rabbit suffers?
You might say that the fox only takes what it needs, and maybe that is true, or maybe not. I have seen some animals, including "cute" ones, do things that harmed other animals without any "need" to do so at all. Most of that was instinctual behavior, but "instinct" is just a fancy word for behaviors that animals consistently choose to carry out. They CAN and DO choose, since it is possible to get them to choose other things either via threat or greater temptation.
The fox, though, you cannot reason with. You can reason with a human being. Or... can you? Some folks are pretty stubborn critters.
All I'm saying is, you support some taking of life as appropriate while you berate others. There's a whole lot of the guilt thing in there. "Give back", why? To "repay the debt" of having "taken"? While that makes a great deal sense in one way, it doesn't in another. The humility of recognizing that life is not yours to take is a worthwhile ideal. Yet it comes into conflict with some value to be gained in the taking of life, in some situations. Just walking on the grass, you trample and injure living things, almost certainly with indifference. You pissing off the porch... is that onto patches of dirt (uninhabited by crawling things), or out into the grass and other plants and possibly onto some bugs and such too? How far are you going to go with the golden rule? Is the golden rule big enough to fit, or does your relationship with other forms of life require more discernment than to try to treat them all as you would like to be treated?
Something you said about not wanting to feel like crap for letting the fox die bugs me a little, too. Guilt is only sorry assed emotion. Guilt is not conscience, it's a specific subset of anger. Conscience is the voice inside that urges you to take positive action, to do the "right" thing. Guilt is what you feel when you are angry at being pressured to do something you don't want to do. That pressure may come from within you, remember things you've been taught or recognizing that you have ignored your own conscience, but it is NOT your conscience, and it's the world's worst motivator. When people do things to get out from under the gun, to escape guilt (self-imposed or externally imposed), it is always begrudging.
You seem a little conflicted over this. You don't plan to keep the fox, don't even seem to want it as a pet. You DO seem to want to help the fox, for the fox's benefit. You do seem to like the fox, and care about it. Maybe you'd be more happy to try to keep it if not for the law raising the stakes on you. Maybe not. I'm not even sure that you yourself are wholly clear on why you are taking care of the little thing. The only clear reasoning I've understood is that because it came right up to you and caught your attention, that it became your responsibility and from there you don't see as you have any choice. You'd feel guilty if you didn't help it. That's one reason to help. Is it the bigger reason? Or is the fox itself the biggest reason? And if the fox is the whole reason, they why even mention the guilt? Is the fox an expense (of time, health risk, money) that is more than you really want to bear? And the guilt the only thing tipping the scales to its favor?
Now that you've gotten to know this fox, shown it some love and developed some bonds with it, I don't imagine you'd turn it out. You made your choice. I just want you to realize that you really do (did) have a choice.
Now as for raising your own livestock, you have clearly not treated those food animals as equals. You felt you had the right to kill them for the meat. How are those who felt they had the right to maim the fox for its tail any different? They MIGHT be different if they intended cruelty to the animal, and deliberately went out of their way to increase its suffering, or even if they were careless and inattentive in minimizing its suffering, but the evidence shows no signs of the former, and may or may not support the latter. For the sake of argument, assume they just took the tail and left the fox for dead. How is THAT taking "selfish" and yours not? Heck, they took only what they needed and left the fox to fend for itself, by which it has managed to survive a bit longer. You out and out killed your meals. You can choose to value a decorative foxtail less than a few meals, but a case could be made for seeing it differently.
Maybe you're right, and the fox trapper is callous. He placed no value on the fox and its life, only on taking something. Does that qualify him for contempt? To be lowered in status to criminal? Shall we hunt him down and hold him to account? What would qualify as justice for the fox?
People are WAY too quick in this world to pick up any available excuse for dehumanizing other folks. You have had a long life of "legitimate reasons" to view other people that way. Sometimes you've opted out of that vicious cycle -- the fellow who shot you, whom you went to visit in prison stands out as an extraordinary example of that -- then other times you are ready to get riled up and into militant mode at the drop of a pin. Your "greater jihad" in this balancing act is something to watch, I must say. You are as complex as complex gets. That's a good thing, I think. Far too few folks ever make a serious effort to reform their own faults, but you do. You care. You try to do the right things, the best things, to do better, to learn. You wear it on the sleeve and like to talk it over with us. You like that, even if it sometimes creates those "ugh" moments for you. :p
The reason forgiveness is so important and so valuable has little to do with the wrongdoer. It has to do with YOU, as victim or observer, to choose not to continue the cycle. Every criminal who ever lived could point back to some wrong they suffered as justification or excuse for their behavior. We have too much of that in our society, and if we don't escape it, our future will suffer. But part of the reason we have too much of the excuse-making is BECAUSE we have too much of the dehumanizing judgement. We have a world full of folks ready and willing to cast the first stone over almost anything. That's the simple solution to our problems, but it doesn't actually solve anything. All it does is stroke that part of us that likes to dominate.
You can care for the fox (or not) without cracking that whip, without rendering that cruel judgement. You aren't hurting the fox trapper with your anger, and if you DID do so by tracking him down to punish him, then you'd be the one in the wrong. Either way, the only way for you to win in this scenario is to put down that whip. Now... I mean it. Put it down. Frown a bit, grumble, say "ugh" and curse me out, but... put it down.
Ah! There. Now smile. Pet the fox, say a kind word to the wife, or something else pleasant, and relax.
I believe that we humans always see ourselves in everything we find (living or not).
When Doc saw that dying fox in his backward, he probally thought that, in some way, he was the fox (who here never felt injuried and left to die?). He saw in the fox a reflection of him in a moment where he felt helpless and that's why I believe he nursed it.
About the giving and taking back part, we humans are flexible, we can't draw a line (well, a straight line) because our morals and beliefs are always changing.
We are not black and white, we are various shades of gray. I am going to quote Greg Graffin now:
"We set up the world in terms of black and white, and yet we're gifted with the ability to see shades of gray. But that ability sometimes hinders us. It hinders our progress, it hinders our success, but it makes us more human, and more compassionate. But, unfortunately, the world we set up for ourselves is not always based on compassion. And that, I think, is the ultimate human dilemma".
Well, um, I think you hit the nail on the head on why I feel so angry. At least, I think you did. Sirian is usually dead on on these sorts of things... But when I read that line something clicked upstairs.
Been threre, in that same position, brutally savaged, wounded, and, left to die. I believe that is where my anger stems for the sicko that would do this, I reckon in the back of my mind that the sickos that flogged me and left me to die and the sicko that did what he did to the fox are one in the same sort of sicko. Wow.. talk about your textbook example of displacement behaviour and it slipped right under my radar for a moment. I must be getting feeble minded in my old age.
Well, while I am here, a report.
Fox is doing better. Vet friend says front paw and most of front leg is going to have to come off. It is horribly infected with something I don't have the power to recall and spell. The rehab centre had no openings, but, he is going to check with another one he knows about in North Carolina and then we will take it from there. It's weird, fox is totally comfortable with me... But he tried to take a chunk out of the vet's hand.
While I am here, might as well go off topic and report on my own condition. I am healing nicely, and, I have very limited use of my voice, which is surprising. I can grunt a bit, and mumble ever so slightly through my jaw being wired shut. My speech is heavily slurred. Still no solid foods or drinking anything, all things coming in go through a tube.
Still lots of healing left... for both of us. Maybe, just maybe, this is God's way and making sure I don't walk alone on this road, something to make me stronger. I dunno.
I have been shot yes... On more then one occasion.
However, being flogged is a bit different my friend. Flogged means you are tied to a tree or a post and then given lashes with a whip or a cat of nine tails. I reckon you can figure out the rest from here... But I was mutilated and disfigured by a bunch of local yahoos and then left to die on that tree. It peeled away my skin... It tore out chunks of muscle and flesh. It shredded me. Left me less then whole. It changed my life, in more ways than I can count. Not only did it peel away flesh, it stripped away many emotional things as well. It was, in my opinion, a test. I might sound sick, but, I am glad that it happened, it helped make me the man I am today. I learned something, something about the human spirit, something about my self, something that no school nor book could teach, something that can only be taught through the most horrible of means.
I don't know what sort of powers of reasoning a fox has, I doubt there is much there at all... Base reasoning I guess. Eat. Kill. Live. Procreate. But I can not help but feel that there must be some sense of gratitude, or, something like it there somewhere in his little brain... Something... What ever it is that all living things must feel... Maybe on a deeper level... Or maybe I really am the crack pot that people claim me to be. Crack pot I might be, but, by God as my witness, I swear I can sense something when I stroke his ears or try to comfort him. There is some glint of reasoning, recognition perhaps, something in how his little gold eyes glitter when he looks up at me. What is it? Am I over analyzing it perhaps? Well, I dunno. I can't say. I would rather over analyze what might be nothing then to give no thought at all to higher things. There is more to both heaven and earth... Well maybe I wont go there, that line has become cliche. But there IS something, something wonderful, something pure and good under all of this.
Anne Frank had it right... Inspite of all the bad things that happened, she still believed in good things and good people. I started to lose my belief in that for a while. With some help, my faith in that ideal was reconfirmed. I wont say whom, but, you will know who you are if you read this, all those of you who had a part to play.
I have seen the very depths of depravity that men can reach. It has tainted much of what I see. But that does not change the fact that I have also seen what great hights man can reach... I have been a witness to those moments as well. Whether it is one man having a dream... Or man rescuing a critter, it is simple acts of goodness that drive the ever crouching darkness that tries to swallow this world back a little bit more. Simple acts of kindness or great acts that place humanity on a higher plane of existense... All things have a part to play in the greater good.
I reckon in the back of my mind that the sickos that flogged me and left me to die and the sicko that did what he did to the fox are one in the same sort of sicko. Wow.. talk about your textbook example of displacement behaviour and it slipped right under my radar for a moment. I must be getting feeble minded in my old age.
That's the one, yes. Hmm... You know, I wouldn't have pointed to that first. "Too obvious". I pretty much took it at face value that you've put that behind you, that you're "glad" (as you say) that it happened. That may not be wholly the case. If seeing the fox treated in a similar way triggered bitterness, wouldn't that imply some remaining bitterness from the flogging?
Your face may not be the only thing in need of serious healing here. I'd normally say that now's not really a good time to take that on, to peel off the scab and bleed the wound anew in trying to get the rest of the poison out. That could be stressful, at a time when you don't need the stress. But you know... if there's poison in there festering away, it's stressing you already. Like... been stressing you, all this time, quietly taking a toll, still festering.
Predestiny... is a fat load of hogwash. Where there is no choice (real choice, not illusion of choice) there can be no meaning to action. There cannot be good or evil without choice. If you do evil and have no choice, how could it then be "evil"? It would only be natural: the nature of the puppet, in having its strings pulled by whatever forces are "really in charge" -- chemistry, biology, divinity, causality.
Whether this be vanity or sanity, I believe in choice, in true freedom. That goes hand in hand with a belief in spirit: you cannot have the one without the other. If there is a divinity, one of its highest qualities would be that of choice, combined also with power, to create and destroy on a grand scale. If we are indeed made "in the image" of divinity, that would mean choice. Choice... is the "forbidden fruit". Conscious choice, backed by thought and feeling and belief, is the spark of divinity within us. It's the "proof", but... not knowing for sure the source of that choice is the mystery. That source of choice IS "spirit", something essential that derives from the divine.
But if you carry your belief that far, to embrace the ideas of spirit and choice in any measure, you must renounce the comfort of external direction. There cannot be a "grand plan" and also be choice. If there are forces orchestrating everything, be they physical or spiritual, that would override choice, render choice (and spirit) both illusory.
Stay with me, now. There is a paradox coming.
The dilemma of choice has always plagued mankind. The freedom to choose leads to all sorts of complexity. Laws are established with the intent of restricting choice, both to deter those who are deterrable from making certain choices, and to establish just penalties for those who will not be deterred.
The problem with removing choice is that you can't remove only the "evil". If freedom is stripped away, the ability to choose "goodness" is lost also. And life finds its only value in that pursuit, therefore the dilemma. We seek the ideal balance between freedom to choose and freedom from those who choose evil.
The law seeks to control choice. Ideally, it restricts its impositions and burdens to the minimum possible while still preserving order and justice, but in practice all sorts of corruptions enter in from all angles. The senselessness of that is toxic. To try to make sense out of what has no sense, we turn to religions. It is a very convenient thing -- a simple solution, offering comfort to true believers -- if there should happen to be "consequences" in the "after life" for choices made while living. Many of us have a pressing need to believe in cosmic justice. Some need that as further deterrent, to give themselves a way to avoid evil choices that they would otherwise be sorely tempted to make. Some need it as a source of hope, to keep on living, to stay sane. Some need it as a way to vindicate their beliefs in their own specialness, as a way to "dominate the dominator" by magically turning their victimhood into imagined victory "in the end".
If there is a cosmic justice, it would not come in the form of external punishments imposed for "making the wrong choices". That would put the lie to choice. That would turn choice into a test, a temporary trap where, in the end, external forces are pulling all the strings. The mechanisms of cosmic justice must be more complex than that. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The justice has to be built in to the choice itself, not "come later" when some divine authority "audits the books".
I reckon in the back of my mind that the sickos that flogged me and left me to die and the sicko that did what he did to the fox are one in the same sort of sicko.
Do you see the poison, Doc? It's the same poison that first drew me out to challenge you when, after your friend had died, you were railing against the whole world, claiming the "torch sputters" because the sheer magnitude of your combined efforts to destroy the group you oppose was fading away. Some of your group had been killed, some were dying out, and you yourself were "out of the fight". You were not wholly at ease with your promise to your wife to leave it alone, and you were mad at all of us for not hating and fearing the "devils" as much as you do.
You have almost a reflex thing going here, Doc, when it comes to that flogging. Like the football player who gets hurt, then springs right up and tries to pretend it's no big deal, that he's tough enough to take it and keep playing... you seem to be compelled to say "but I'm glad it happened" as part of the same thought. Like the smoking, that reflex was a way to deflect the pain, to set yourself apart from it, to keep on functioning by way of NOT confronting it head on when it was too much for you to handle.
But the poison tells the tale. It oozes out from time to time, with a distinctly unpleasant smell. You tell yourself that's the smell of success, of strength, but it's not. It's an infection, the messy mixture of your internal defenses fighting with something harmful that is trying to take over. Your strength is deeper than that. Your strength is not the byproduct of evil choices made by others. It's the essence of your conscience, that leads you to do good works. But in order for your defenses to fully rid you of the poison, you have to bleed. You have to let it out, and to spend some of your strength in the process, to ever be free of it. Even then, the scars will remain, but you're not there yet, not healed, until all the poison is gone. I know you have bled in all kinds of ways over that flogging, and no doubt rid yourself of much of the poison, but clearly some remains.
The natural response is to meet force with force. You took... a brutal flogging... and survived. There are reasons why these words are used as metaphor. "Took a beating". "Got flogged". More than just words to you. The natural response when you are being attacked is to fight back. If one can't fight back with the same weapons, use whatever is available. Calling them "sickos" and dehumanizing them in your own mind, to view them as beneath you somehow, as defective and deserving of judgement, is one such way.
But Doc, they're not beneath you. They made a choice. Nothing more, nothing less. That choice isn't going to come back on them in like fashion. You can imagine that they'll suffer horribly forever in damnation, but that's a feeble comfort, an illusion. They aren't that special. The act of choosing is not that special. Life is not a sliding scale of who's better than and who's less than everybody else. It's not that way in this life, and it's not that way in the next. Likewise, those who choose to do good aren't going to reap special status in the next life, either. That's a simple view of reward and punishment, which does not account for the nature of choice itself.
A miracle, by some definitions, represents a moment in which divinity "intervenes" in physical reality by doing something "outside the rules". There are lots of claims of such floating around, but little evidence, and what evidence there is is ambiguous at best. Why?
What if there are no such interventions?
There are, of course. You see them every day. Choices. Choice ITSELF is intervention, divine by definition. Either that or we really are just puppets dancing a jig for some uncaring taskmaster. If so, would it even matter which? Without choice, we could not escape our puppet master. Choice is either genuine, or it is not. Real choice exists, or it does not.
If choice itself is divine, then "good" choice would represent "good" spirit, while "evil" choice would represent "evil" spirit. That's the Catholic point of view, to be sure. They believe in evil spirits, and blame evil choices on "devils" that get inside people, but which can be cast out with the proper holy rituals. So which is it? Are choices real, coming from within, rising out of your spirit? Or are they nothing more than you the puppet dancing across the stage, with someone or something else pulling all your strings?
Just look at all the mess we have put into place to surround and contain choice, to channel it, control it, to kill it. To dominate it.
It doesn't work. Does it?
There are even those so afraid of choice, they choose to believe that getting it right once, just one time with one choice, will "save" them. Then they are off the hook. They don't have to look further, don't have to learn any more. They've "won" and they're safe now. All the confusion will clear up, as some outside force will take over and free them from any further need to choose, even free them from the opportunity to choose. Nice, convenient, and simple -- very comforting. Only, they overlook something. Once the freedom to choose evil is "taken away", ALL choice and freedom are taken away. How some can view that as desirable, as paradise, is beyond me. I guess they're so happy at the thought of eternal security that they haven't really thought it all the way through.
The paradox of choice is that choice itself is god's plan. How is goodness manifest in this world? Through miracles by the bushel? Nope. Through the choices of people. Likewise evil. It only manifests through the choices of people. No greater cosmic justice, no day of judgement, no eye for an eye. Only the ability to choose, then to experience the results of that choice, then the opportunity to learn from those results and make more informed choices.
And how do we know that goodness is our nature? Because when you compare good choices to evil choices, there are an overwhelming number of good choices. One evil choice of one person can destroy in seconds what it takes millions of good choices and thousands of good people years of work to build. Thus, evil stands out. It seems to be larger and more powerful and more prevalent than it really is. We get fooled by that. A more complete look at the evidence shows otherwise. The choice to destroy is simpler than the choice to create. It takes intelligence, serenity and creativity to build. It takes only force to destroy. Goodness surrounds us all. It is carried forth in our cultures, our tools, our communications, our ways of life, built up over thousands of years of hard work by our forebears, by those who loved humanity, who loved one another and worked to preserve our kind, to improve our future. Goodness is stronger, more natural, more rewarding, and far more prevalent.
Choice is the mechanism of divinity. We all struggle with this truth, making countless good choices through our lives, and making only a few evil choices. Yet those haunt us, even threaten to destroy our lives completely at times. In our fear of confronting that, of being unable to manage it, our fear of being weak and succumbing wholly to evil, we lose faith in ourselves and come to believe that redemption could only come from outside, from beyond ourselves. Yet if you cling to the hope of reward for your choices, you MUST also cling to the fear of punishment, and to the belief system of reward and punishment. It's a selfish, vain pursuit, appealing straight to the worst part of us: the greedy part, the part that wants to cheat the system, to be in control, to be special, to be better than others.
Only when you stop whipping yourself to death over your own choices, can you make peace with the choices of others. Only when you stop whipping others for their choices, can you find peace in regard to your choices.
Though all the great holy books say "judge not", we do it anyway. Don't we?
Judgement is an evil choice. Those who flogged you judged you, found you unworthy, beneath them, and therefore justified their acts in their own minds as holy and good. They punished you, Doc, tortured you, and you know they thought you deserved it.
Is that not, in some form, the same choice we all make when we judge others?
The fox hunters saw the fox as beneath them. They saw that they had the right to take the tail, and harm the fox in the process. You've done the same with your food animals. They were beneath you. Maybe you cared for them more than the hunter cared for the fox, but you still killed them. You played god to them: you chose when they would die. Whether or not that choice was "right" or "wrong" is pretty much beside the point, isn't it?
Like it or not, the same is true of the flogging. It was a choice. That choice was cruel, oh how it was. It was vicious and wholly judgemental. And yet... if the things done to those men in their past (beatings of their own, indoctrination into hatred and notions of racial and religious superiority, etc) do NOT justify or excuse their judgement of you, how then can your sufferings justify or excuse your judgement of them?
You got past the judgement of the one who shot you, Doc. You said you understood him, that you were both caught up in fighting for what you believed in, and that in some ways you admired him for taking the shot. Think about what the floggers gave up when they flogged you. All that judgement they aimed at you slammed back on them, too. The same way your judgement of them still oozes today, seeping into other things where, in fact, it does not belong.
None of us can cast the first stone freely. We are all poisoned. We are poisoned with... the ability to choose. Poisoned by having chosen badly at times, haunted by the sure knowledge of our own fears and judgements, our own hatreds and weaknesses. We have all walked into the shadow and touched the face of evil. The only cosmic justice there is, lies in the fact that the more evil we choose to do, the more burden of forgiveness we must embrace to be ABLE to embrace the goodness once again. We must rid ourselves of the poison that stands between us and peace, to know peace. That is why peace seems to elude you at times. Restless, longing, and lonely, in search of what, we do not know, knowing only that we need it. The poison HURTS. The more evil we do, the more we hurt inside.
That some can believe that god would judge us, they don't understand the mechanics of judgement. Judgement itself is an evil choice. It is hurtful. If god were to judge, and to punish, and to inflict (or purposefully allow) suffering, wouldn't there be consequences of that reflecting back to god? Can god do evil and not be evil?
It's just not that simple. For as long as you have choice, you have spirit. When you cease to have the ability to choose, truly to choose, you become soulless, robotic, a spiritual void. You become... inanimate. You become... dead. Dead by any definition, dead dead dead. Eternal life of the spirit can mean only ETERNAL choice. That must also mean eternal responsibility for that choice: to be careful to choose wisely, because all of your choices have impact.
Free will (choice) has always been the keystone concept of spirituality. Religions are systems whereby (in theory at least) we enable ourselves to make more informed, more successful choices. Well, if religion has not followed the exploration of choice to its true conclusion, then we can't exactly afford to accept its word as final, can we? Freedom from choice is death. If it is life we seek, then we must not hide our eyes, cover our ears, and shut our mouths. We must see the evil, hear the evil, speak the evil's name. We must have the choice to do evil, and the option must be real. Only THAT gives meaning to the choice to do no evil. Only that brings goodness to life, brings peace to our souls. No damnation, no reward. Only choices to be made. Endless freedom, endless responsibility, and endless potential, as much as we are willing to choose to create and to keep -- and choose not to destroy.
To crack that whip is a choice you will always have available. You also have the choice to put it down.
I'll admitt it. Some times, I don't get over stuff as well as I like to think I do.
Shoot me, and, ask forgiveness, and, I will forgive you. Flog me, and, never once ask me for forgiveness, well, I guess it still stings a bit.
I am a worn out old fart now. Old wounds are still there, and, time does very little to heal anything I am finding, indeed, getting older only makes some wounds hurt worse. Heck, I am still pissed off I guess, but, it's more then any single act of flogging, beating, shooting, stabbing, what have you. It's not the flogging, it was the reasoning, the emotion behind it that angers me I think. Maybe. I am not 100% sure so I can't answer this with total honesty.
I am getting to old to fight any more, and, learning how to put my sword down and the whip as well for some reason, brings up a lot of the old hurts. I dunno how to put it, but, the very act of putting down those things, or, trying to, making a conscious effort to do them, made a lot of old wounds hurt worse.
When I get pissed, I am so used to doing something, anything, what ever I can to vent my venom. Seeing a little half dead fox in my yard made me so very ANGRY. And, to be honest, I could not respond to my Inquisitor Instincts. For a moment there, I wanted somebody's head on my chopping block... and, could find no one, and that left me with only withering stewing simmering rage. A terrible act had been done, and, it was one of those sorts of things where I can do nothing but sit back and feel powerless to do much of anything, and, that always rubs me the wrong way. It irks me... And then I get over it in a while. Like now. It is only a dull hinting sense of being angry, rather then being the steaming kettle I was.
Sirian, you once mentioned that there was no better person to be in a foxhole with, but, I have to disagree. I would not be that person. In that foxhole, should somebody else die, should something seem not fair, if some innocent sort was to be injured, aw hell, it could be anything, don't take much to set me off, I would not remain in the foxhole very long. Once something, anything, irked my sense of right and wrong, I would be out of said foxhole in a moment trying to do something, anything, to make it right. There would be Hell to pay and I do not accept credit cards. I am unstable at best, in all honesty, chaotic at average, and maniacal at worst. I can be counted on to come steaming and charging through in the end, but, in the moment of the crunch, the middle, in the active crisis, I am usually off with my own personal shit list and agenda. I can see that in my self now, clearly, and no, I aint flogging my self. It is an honest statement of how I am.
Yesterday, fox went and had his leg amputated. He should be coming home soon, this IS his home now. He had his various shots and stuff. In another day or two, maybe three, but when I feel up to it, I plan to get the ball rolling on my wildlife rehab licence. I always talk about doing the right thing, so, I guess I should do it my self. One could do worse in his shadow years I reckon, I already have rehab centres for people, so, why not animals? There seems to be some sort of demand, I know I started contacting rehab centres my self, some of them as far away as Arkansas and Tennessee, and got the same answer. So much need, so little resources. Once I recover a bit, going to have to start house hunting, adding suitable place for wildlife on the list of needs.
I dunno how to put it, but, the very act of putting down those things, or, trying to, making a conscious effort to do them, made a lot of old wounds hurt worse.
Isn't it more like becoming aware that they had never stopped hurting? If you could just stay in motion, just keep moving, doing something, ANYthing proactive to try and swing the balance the other way, that was how you would not only survive, but make things right.
That may have been the right response at the time. It kept you alive, kept you sane, and kept you moving. That's far better than those who simply implode: to collapse into fear and paralysis, even catatonia in the worst cases. Sure you have PTSD, but being a scarred and wounded soul has only driven you and remolded you, not destroyed you. You were roughed up by life at many points, starting very early. You fought back in any number of ways. You made it through.
Just because there's room for improvement in how you choose to deal with that history now does not invalidate how you dealt with it before. If you think about some less emotionally charged aspect of life -- say, Diablo II -- you might better be able to externalize your viewpoint and examine the mechanics of performance. For example, you tried some HC chars that didn't make it through. You might have done better than that, might have avoided some of the mistakes you made, but HOW could you have done so without first gaining the experiences? You have to collect and analyze data on performance to improve on that performance. Or in other words, mistakes are not only inevitable, but also necessary. When you spot something as a mistake, it doesn't mean that you did it "wrong", but that you could have done it better and you KNOW it. That's an opportunity to choose again.
I don't want you to hurt at all. However, I'd rather see you hurt a little and have a chance to finally heal the old festering wounds, than to avoid feeling the hurt but leave the wounds to continue to fester. (You can't avoid hurting if the wounds are not healed; you numb out, you close down your feelings, all of them, to a point where the signal just doesn't get noticed). You have the resources to bring this to a final conclusion: you have the analytical strength to figure out the details, the courage to face the pain involved, and the honesty that can bring on a catharsis. The way through is not to relive, but to let go. Not only is this incident a wound, it is also fuel. You've been using it to fuel your anger, your drive, your passion, for decades now. The problem is, it's nuclear fuel, fissile material. It's a source of vast energy, but it also slowly poisons you from overexposure to its instability. You don't NEED it any more. You've retired from the field of combat. You have other sources of fuel (more reliable, more powerful ones, even) to move you on through the kinds of projects you are working on now.
The adult remedial eduction program... that's not a situation that requires a field marshall. There's no human enemy to face down. You don't have to operate in soldier mode to succeed with that. You might have to take some folks by the ear now and then and make sure certain things get done, if some folks aren't doing their jobs, but you can do that in a calmer way. You really, truly do not need this festering pressure from inside to animate you. It's OK to let it go.
Shoot me, and, ask forgiveness, and, I will forgive you. Flog me, and, never once ask me for forgiveness, well, I guess it still stings a bit.
No doubt. Having not been through anything that extreme, I can't say that I truly relate. Whether or not you ever care to forgive is your choice. And it is a choice, not an obligation. You need not feel guilty if you are not ready to forgive. But you should try to understand what's at stake, and for whom.
Forgiveness is not approval. To forgive is not to say "Oh, it's OK now". No, it's not OK, it will never be OK. What's done may be done, but it was wrong and will always be there. When wounds heal, they leave a scar. Things NEVER return to the way they were before. That's just not how it works. However, things can reach a "new normal". When flesh is torn, it hurts, it bleeds, its function is impaired, but if it heals, the pain stops (or at least lessens), while some or all function returns. To forgive is to let the poison out, to let it go, to bleed it away. Once that is gone, the sore flesh (or emotion) will scab over and renew itself. The scar of the healed wound will always be there, always be part of you from then onward. But life can go on. Your attention can be put to other things. You can reclaim your lost destiny, to free your future from the shackles of being chained to the past, chained to the incident(s) that were unhealed.
There are two forms of forgiveness. One is expressed, to give comfort to one who has remorse, to let them heal along with you. The other form is unexpressed. That one is tougher, because it means the other party is unrepentant in some regard. They refuse to change, meaning the tension goes unresolved.
But see, if you NEED their repentance to be able to forgive, then you are still allowing them to dominate you. They have control over their own will, and if their continued defiance is a source of ongoing stress for you, you are still giving your power away to them. You are leaving them in control, letting them push you around.
You don't have to do that. You can take back your power.
Sometimes, the only way to win is not to play.
Isn't it time, Doc? Aren't you ready now, finally, to put this truly behind you? Victory lies within your grasp. The solution has always been available, but now you have the opportunity to grasp it and make it happen. The only question that remains is, do you love yourself more than you hate what they did to you and why they did it? Which is the stronger force inside YOU, Doc? The light... or the seething darkness?
Shed the myths. The festering pressure is a source of energy, yes, but chaotic, leading you to inflict collateral damage along the way; you can do better without it. You don't need an "enemy" to fight against to be able to make progress or have a purpose. You can be effective without foaming. Cracking the whip does not get anybody to shape up. Forced labor is inefficient, and that includes self-enslavement. You can unlock those shackles. You can set yourself free. You don't have to perfect the past. You CAN'T. You can't make up for the past, correct the past, vindicate the past. You don't need the evildoers to repent. Only you have to repent to be healed. You don't have to make things right. All you have to do is let go. Let it go. Give it up to god and trust in His judgement, his justice, his mercy. Let him worry about settling accounts from the past. Some things really are too big for you to handle on your own, but you can ask for help. Shed the myths. The world is NOT as adversarial as you have insisted on believing. There are adversaries out there, dangerous ones who can't be let to run free and wreak havoc, but their defeat will not come by "beating them at their own game". Redefine the rules. Play a different game. Choose the light. The darkness is the absence of light. Let the light come in, and there will not be darkness where you dwell.
Shoot me, and, ask forgiveness, and, I will forgive you. Flog me, and, never once ask me for forgiveness, well, I guess it still stings a bit.
Consider how America acted (officially) after its own civil war. Some very very bad blood there, and many on both sides who would not forgive. But they were held in check for the most part. The majority, on both sides, wanted the war to end. The battles were fought, the issues decided on the battlefields, when they could not be decided in the congressional chambers. There was, by and large, mercy shown to the vanquished. Forgiveness. The south was reconstructed, restored to citizenship, to statehood, to equal status. Some steps had to be taken to ensure there would not be another rebellion, but more importantly, the wounds had to be healed, not poked and prodded and made worse. It was a long, difficult road, and some scars still remain, but in the end it worked. Didn't it?
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful choices you can make. It is, quite simply, more effective than vindictiveness and retribution. Of course, you can only forgive once security has been reestablished. You do not choose suicide for being unwilling to fight back against an aggressor. You don't lie down willingly and allow yourself to be abused, if you can help it. If you must fight, fight. But fighting is not meant to last forever.
Those who prefer retribution to reconciliation will not find peace. Northern Ireland is perhaps the best example. That conflict has been raging for centuries and both sides prefer seeking "final victory" to that of peaceful coexistence. They can't let go of the past. They refuse to put down their swords and whips, insisting that they have "the right" to wield them against "the enemy" because of XYZ list of grievances from the past. That cycle never ends. And to listen to the Irish people on both sides, the peaceniks in their midst teach the children that "both sides need to learn to trust each other". You can hear that catch phrase over and over. It's foolish. You can't trust those who are not trustworthy, and neither side will ever BE trustworthy until they choose the future over the past. Until they choose to let go, forgive, and forge a reconciliation, the terrorism on both sides will go on and on, and they will never have peace.
"The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves."
You, Doc, have at times dipped into some terrorism of your own. You drew limits on its forms, there were lines you wouldn't cross, and that's better than your enemies would do. But there were other lines you did cross, did compromise, did violate. Some of that did some good, but some also inflicted unjust damage on innocent parties. That's a high price to pay for a war of ideologies. A military war is winnable. If the aggressors are being led by a madman, you cut off the head of the snake and the body is happy to be set free. You can, in some wars, remove or exterminate the enemy leadership and then make peace with the masses.
If the conflict is a struggle to establish which of two ideologies is dominant, the one that wins the war claims the prize. A clear example is the Axis vs the Allies. The Axis ideology was that might makes right. The Nazis believed they were genetically superior. The Japanese believed their emperor was a god. Cooperation amongst the rest of the world's major nations brought an end to these two illusions. The ideas are still floating around on the fringes, but they have been defeated. They are discredited, and will remain so for as long as we teach our children the facts and let them figure out their own conclusions.
In victory, there is a great responsibility. We must not lose sight of our own winning ideology. The USA and UK (and France), and the western Allies, stuck with the ideology of democracy and freedom. Russia also stuck with their winning ideology: communism. Communism plus Democracy defeated Fascism. But then look at the results afterward. Communism then stepped in to dominate the nations that fell under its influence, while democracy did not. Democracy forgave all its enemies -- the USA, UK, Australia, France, Canada, and other western Allies, reconstructed their defeated enemies' lands, societies, and helped them find their own place in the new order, which was not under anybody else's heel -- while Communism exacted terrible retribution on all the enemies that fell under their control, as well as replacing one taskmaster with another. More than two million German women raped by the Red Army on the march to Berlin, and that was just for starters. Did that retribution solve anything? Compare that to the dignity with which America treated the Japanese. Fighting between America and Japan in the Pacific was every bit as horrible, vicious, and desperate as fighting on the Russian steppes. The dug-in islands, the kamakazi, the fanatical determination to fight until all hope was lost, then to die rather than surrender. On the open sea, there are no foxholes, no walls behind which to hide, nowhere to run, no way to escape. Retribution was an option we chose not to entertain, not officially, not en masse. And what did we gain from that choice? A new friend, and a lasting peace.
It takes a whole lot of energy and effort to keep your heel at somebody else's throat. People are clever, and the human spirit does not easily tolerate being suppressed. This you know first hand. Those who worked so hard to suppress you, personally, only gained an enemy who was considerably more clever than they would allow themselves to believe. They definitely hurt their "cause" more by attacking you than if they had simply left you alone, because you then worked actively to oppose them. Pretty stupid on their part, eh?
BUT... after WWII, when Japan was defeated and defanged, America did not run around in paranoia, afraid they'd rise to fight again any day now. We did not refight the war over and over, did not sit back in fear of a world full of enemies plotting to strike us again at any moment. Oh we still had some enemies, and some friends and allies who had become new rivals. With Fascism defeated, the only major ideologies left were democracy and communism, and they squared off. They, with the iron fist. We, with the big stick but also the soft voice and the choice of reconciliation over retribution. Now that that conflict, too, has run its course, and our ideology has prevailed, the world doesn't quite know what to do with itself. Yet in the victory of democracy over communism, we continue to be graceful winners, for the most part. There is no retribution in our hearts toward the Russian people, nor toward the Chinese, nor eastern Europe. Problems remain, and as old conflicts of ideology are resolved, new ones rise to take their place. Is democracy vs muslim fundamentalism the last great ideological conflict on the earth? Probably not. But there are interesting years ahead, that's for sure.
You, Doc, have not come to grips with victory. The ideology of the racial bigots has been defeated. Like Fascism (to which the concept is largely tied in America today), it has been relegated to the fringe. That does not mean it is harmless -- witness the chaos and carnage done by the two snipers across half a dozen states, and these were no geniuses, merely a couple of, er, foxes in the henhouse. A few nuts can wreak a lot of havoc if they are determined enough and organized enough about it: the snipers, yes, and certainly 9-11. But terrorism is the extent of their reach. They don't have the potential to bring us down. Only our own lack of grit in coping with these threats can tear us down: life must go on. And it will. The rascists on all sides are hawking a dead idea, and few are fooled. Only the fools, frankly, are fooled by those ideas at this point.
Just take a look at the election results from this week. Regardless of where you stand -- left, right, middle, or on the sidelines -- there is something fundamentally urgent about the totality of the result that all Americans should find heartening. In the wake of 9-11, the American people "get it". We aren't running off half-cocked attacking folks at random. We aren't indiscriminately waging aggression, nor retribution. Our ideology remains wholly intact. All the big lessons of World War Two are in play, and in our favor. Our government is not going along with any appeasement proposals. Aggressors are not running amok. The Taliban was given a chance to cooperate, refused, and was removed, but there has been no retribution by us on the Afghan people. There are internal tensions in America, but no internment camps. Although there are cries and accusations against us of excess force in Afghanistan, there are reporters from many nations all over the place, and the reports of "American war crimes" are about as credible as your average UFO sighting. The fact is we are, at least generally, trying to be careful, to focus our forces onto correct targets, to minimize collateral damage (mistakes and side effects) and to let the Afghans choose their own future, so long as that future does not include a return to opposing our vital national interests. Likewise, Iraq and North Korea pose threats, and war is not our first choice with either. We've made diplomatic compromises to address the concerns and interests of our friends and the world community. We've also remained firm on refusing the path of appeasement. Walking the line between willingness to use force as a last result, and exhausting legitimate opportunities to solve our problems peacefully, takes a lot of work, but we're doing it. We did it with the Taliban, we'll do it with Iraq, and we'll do it with North Korea. Meanwhile, the left side of thinking in our nation stands opposed to dealing firmly with foreign threats. The voters have had a litmus test when it comes to war and national security. Come war time, America pulls together more than it does when at peace. Genuine threats to national security trump every other priority. Been that way all my life. Nam was LBJ's Nightmare and McNamara's blunder. In the post-nuclear world, everything changed. The prospect of annihilation if total war broke out became all too real (and still is). And there is danger on BOTH sides: too hawkish is prone to arrogance and miscalculation, to overstepping, while too dovish is prone to ostrich syndrome, sticking our heads into the sand when some threats AREN'T going to disappear on their own. The American people "get it". When war comes, the whole country moves to the right. When peace returns, the whole country moves to the left. The voters, collectively, manage to sway the course of our national path and priorities just enough to keep our nation in balance and on track. As leaky as the system may be, as corrupt and mistake-prone and lumbering, with individual cases of stupidity and injustice as to blow your mind, on the whole the damn thing actually works out. The voters have had a litmus test, and not since LBJ has a Democratic president or presidential candidate passed that test. We moved to the right, to Nixon, during the Vietnam war. That war was such a strain on our national psyche that the country moved WAY to the left, with Carter, with the Dems in control of both houses (with significant margins), in the first election after Nam ended. That term saw the defeat of the Democratic Party ideology in regard to foreign policy during times of national crisis. The voters realized that the war in Vietnam was not truly isolated, but part of a larger conflict. The country moved back to the right, in a big hurry, at the next election, and did not trust another Dem at the helm until the Cold War itself was over. Then... back to the left we went. But WHOA THERE, hold on just a second. National health care? Turning America into a socialist state? With full cradle-to-grave government interference, "it takes a village", and the tax burdens to go along with that? The country moved back to the center, the voters SWEEPING the Dems out of not the white house, but the congress, giving the Reps control of the House of Representatives for the first time in four decades. Now the country had flip-flopped. No more free-spending liberal domination of the congress. We got our budget under control, finally, and cruised through a peaceful period. The Reps pushed too far when they closed down the government over budget conflicts and back we went to the left, re-electing Clinton. Things stayed in the middle, in balance, and continued to stay there. Bush or Gore, it was a tossup, a virtual tie.
Now along comes the current election. Thanks to 9-11, the litmus test is back in play. The Dems failed miserably with the Homeland Security bill. Even though that idea was theirs to start with, and the executive branch came late to the party in supporting it, once an actual bill went through, the Dems held it up in the Senate because of civil service workers' rights issues. Bad, bad mistake. In times of war (and this IS a time of war, make no mistake, the war has been upon us for some time now), national security trumps all. No matter how important those labor issues might have seemed, EVEN TO DEMOCRATIC VOTERS they came second to doing the best job of protecting the homeland. The Democratic Party ideology has failed again in war time, and the centrists of that party crossed party lines to swing the nation to the right. If the leaders in power now, starting with the President, overstep and swing too far right, they'll blow it like Clinton blew it in '93 with the national health care ideas, and the next election the country will swing leftward again. On the other hand, if the Reps can deliver, the next election will be like the one in '84, after Reagan delivered.
There's a certain national consciousness in play. In my younger days, I did not understand it at all. I think I have a pretty good sense of it now, though. It really is a remarkable thing. Despite all its problems, all the cynics, all those who have given up on the system as "too broken", the bottom line seems to be that the collective will of the voters really does do a better job of tacking in the wind than any one party, person, or ideology.
Doc, the older I get, the more my faith in humanity is strengthened. There really is such a thing as social evolution. Human beings ARE capable of learning, of improving, of grasping the depths of our failures and finding ways to build on this information to make the future brighter and more successful and secure.
When ideas and ideologies clash, there's a fusion. The stronger prevails, but its course tends to be impacted by and influenced by the weaker. Fascism had its strengths. There was a certain power of persuasion to the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda. There was a certain evil genius to many of Hitler's misconceptions. He had the charisma to carry them out, to get people to sign on. There was brilliance and innovation to German science and engineering of the day. All these things have had enormous impact on the world. By and large, we've found ways to turn these to the good: either by sifting the things of value from the wreckage (ideas, knowhow, innovations) or by crystallizing our understanding of, and vigilance toward, the exploitation of weakness in the human psyche. Communism had its strengths, too, and some of its better ideas have tempered the rough edges of Free Market Capitalism, to everyone's benefit.
Sometimes, though, that fusion is not actually for the best. Crime tends to be like that. Sometimes normal folks become the victims of criminals, and worlds collide. The collision of evil with a good life can spin all sorts of consequences. For you, it's been a mixed bag. When you were savagely attacked, a part of your own "internal voting process" was impacted, and you "swung to the right" in some regards. You may not even realize it or view it that way, but you are still operating on that basis in many regards. You are still, mentally and emotionally "mobilized for war".
But Doc, the war is over. Not just for you, it's OVER, for everybody. The racists are marginalized and losing more ground every day, at least in our country. They don't have the power to undo the social evolution. Some skirmishes may remain, and you can choose to engage in them or make them your focus if you wish. Or... you can choose to stand down. No more retribution, no more red alert, no more campaigns. You don't have to feel as if you are letting anybody down here. You're not, least of all yourself. Learn to accept victory. Learn how to cope with victory. Don't make the mistake of the communists by being ungracious in victory. The time has come for reconciliation and reconstruction, to re-integrate those who were on the wrong side. There's plenty more work to be done, but not so much on the right, via open hostility. You'll have to swing back to the left and restore your own internal balance in regard to this whole arena of your life if you want to continue to move forward. Otherwise, you're actually IN THE WAY at this point, in the same regard as those who insisted we can never trust the Japanese. They were standing in the way of the future by insisting that nothing had changed, that the war wasn't over yet.
Well, wars end. Ideas win and ideas lose. As odd as it may sound considering our general political leanings, I entered this dialogue with you to try to shift your point of view a goodly distance to the... left, to the dovish side.
The final decision remains yours, of course.
Choose to take back your power. Choose to let the past fade into the past where it belongs. Reclaim your future. Choose to forgive. You must forgive before you can make the changes stick. Otherwise, you'll lapse right back into the same old cycles all over again.
Beaurocrats like clear cut, black and white rules. It's easier for them to say "no wild animals without a permit" with a definite line drawn, than try to apply common sense to grey areas or run the risk of having some well meaning individual complain he/she wasn't warned before getting a nose clawed apart.
Common sense as regards a fox depends up whether or not you raise chickens, live in a city or the country, and have an understanding of rabies. And other metrics.
There are a series of laws enacted in the past 30 or so years that are aimed at protecting The Wildlife from being caged and "kept" by people, even well meaning people, who think it "cute" or "interesting" to have XXX wild animal about a human settlement, or human dwelling area. Doc's actual case falls into the same rubric as what the local humane society does, yet because it involves an animal "codified" as wild does it raise a bureaucratic eyebrow.
The laws came about for a particular reason, the bureaucrat is merely "the people's" hired agent who attempts to ensure that the laws are followed within the limits of his power. Now, is this functionary going to be able to "outfox" Doc if he set his mind to trying to help this animal? Not likely. Too much effort required with questionable result.
Is every law perfectly just? No. Humans write them, and enforce them. Of course they are imperfect. That does not mean we do away with them, just try to reform them.