We humans are capable of cognitive dissonance on a large scale when it comes to animals. We sentimentalize fictional animals but are oblivious to the cruel reality we cause. This video describes the cruel fate suffered by the whale who played Willy in the hit film.
In a touching opinion column in today’s New York Times, Nicholas Kristof shares his perspective on animal rights. While he is no sentimentalist, he came to love and respect farm animals during his childhood on a farm:
“…Then there were the geese, the most admirable creatures I’ve ever met. We raised Chinese white geese, a common breed, and they have distinctive personalities. They mate for life and adhere to family values that would shame most of those who dine on them.
While one of our geese was sitting on her eggs, her gander would go out foraging for food — and if he found some delicacy, he would rush back to give it to his mate. Sometimes I would offer males a dish of corn to fatten them up — but it was impossible, for they would take it all home to their true loves.
Once a month or so, we would slaughter the geese. When I was 10 years old, my job was to lock the geese in the barn and then rush and grab one. Then I would take it out and hold it by its wings on the chopping block while my Dad or someone else swung the ax.
The 150 geese knew that something dreadful was happening and would cower in a far corner of the barn, and run away in terror as I approached. Then I would grab one and carry it away as it screeched and struggled in my arms.
Very often, one goose would bravely step away from the panicked flock and walk tremulously toward me. It would be the mate of the one I had caught, male or female, and it would step right up to me, protesting pitifully. It would be frightened out of its wits, but still determined to stand with and comfort its lover.”
It was a cold winter day in Washington, DC, and the lines to get into the National Gallery of Art snaked all around the huge building. The year was 1963, and President Kennedy had managed a diplomatic coup by getting the French government to loan the Mona Lisa so that Americans could see the most famous work of art in the world.
The crowds to see it were unprecedented. One had to stand in line for hours and even overnight. A little boy was among the thousands who flocked to see the painting. Bundled up and shivering from the cold, he grew excited as his place in line finally got inside the building, and eventually into the very gallery where Leonardo’s masterpiece hung.
But being a short little kid, he had to wait until he could place himself squarely in front, just a foot or so from the canvas. And then he did something astonishing.
Unbuttoning his winter coat, he revealed his dog, whom he had been carrying secretly all this time.
“I wanted my dog to see the Mona Lisa,” he explained matter-of-factly to the startled guards.
How many dogs can claim to have accomplished such a feat?
Photograph: President Kennedy, Mme Malraux, French Minister of Culture André Malraux, Jackie Kennedy and Vice President Johnson at the unveiling of the Mona Lisa, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, 8 January 1963
© Photo © Robert Knadsen, White House / John Fitzgerald Kennedy Presidential Library, Boston
This video of an elephant painting is astounding. Yes, there is Cheetah the artist chimp, but let’s face it: that’s abstract art. But making representations of three dimensions onto two dimensions, with aesthetic considerations–didn’t we all learn that’s something only humans can do?
Well step aside, Janson. Time to add this elephant to the history of art.
Earlier this year I wrote a story that seemed to touch many people’s hearts. It was about my friend Pamela and her beloved Brigandi, a wise soul in the outward form of a chow.
After 16 years of constant companionship, Brigandi had to depart this world.
To know him was to understand what deliberation meant. He understood his mortality, but more to the point, he understood how difficult his absence would be to his best friend. So he determined that somehow, some way, he would find a means to manifest his bond with her after he had gone.
Call it karma or what you will. Brigandi figured out a way to guide to his Pamela another little soul in need of love. Her name is Bramwell—and as you can see, she is strong, Welsh, and overjoyed to be with her new companion.
Love never ends. It just has new beginnings.
I’ve been busy working for a most important animal cause: The Humane Society is sponsoring a drive to get 650,000 petition signatures for a proposition to mandate minimal humane treatment of calves, chickens and pigs. If successful, it would require that these factory-farmed animals be allowed enough room to turn around in their cages. So very minimal. And yet so hard to achieve in our less-than-compassionate cheap meat economy.
I’ve also been watching the most harrowing videos imaginable about factory farming. It would make you weep. If you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian, this stuff will put you over the edge.
So as an antidote, here’s a beautiful video that reflects a more hopeful side to humanity. Enjoy!