Saving One Bee May Not Save The World, But….

Honey_bee_on_blue_flowerOvernight, a spider had spun an impressive work of art across the outside of my bedroom window, sadly though, I noticed that a bee had become trapped. I thought he was dead, and I was quite stuck by the sight that I decided to take a photo (which didn’t go as planned because nothing was ideal – the light, nor taking a picture through a double glazed window, but I took it anyway…..) thinking it might be useful for something relevant, and as I was looking through the camera, he moved and began struggling against the silk tethers. Fortunately our upstairs windows flip round so we can clean the outside so I thought it would be easy enough to set him loose.

z5I opened the window and found a False Widow spider sitting inside the void where the slider is, and I couldn’t flip the window without her moving, somehow.  You may remember that I once commented on how being vegan was helping with my arachnophobia, but these kind, are still way out of my comfort level.

“This is not even funny”

I sighed, and very…. very slowly, I started to tilt the window to hopefully encourage the spider to back up, and she did, at first, but then she stood up on her back legs and when I moved it a little more, she darted forward quickly – that was me done!

I paced the room trying to work out how to get the bee – our ladder is far to short to reach upstairs, I couldn’t use water or a stick somehow because I’d likely drown the little creature or kill him by accident, and the longer he was there, the more tangled he was getting. I realized then, that while I was scared of the spider (no rationale for this – it’s just a lifelong phobia), this poor soul was about to be eaten by one. That for me is truly a horror movie worthy situation. I know even spiders have to eat, but I couldn’t see this live bee, and leave him to that fate.

Back to sliding the window, and the lady graciously stepped outside.

z1At first, I wasn’t sure what the kindest option would be because he was in a far worse state than I thought; couldn’t walk, wings stuck to his body, and he kept falling over. But we got this far, he was still alive. There was still a chance.

z2

They’re so delicate that I didn’t know if I could help him without hurting him. But I grabbed a new cleaning cloth to give him something to get a grip on, and a nail file, and started gently moving the silk and fluff stuck on him. I wasn’t sure of the stress tolerance level these little guys have, so I gave him a break now and then, and after a while, I could tell we were getting somewhere because he was able to start helping – using one leg to try and kick it off the other, it was quite cute to watch!

When he was able to walk I used the nail file to hold down the loose silk and waited for him to pull enough that it broke away – I knew we were on a roll when he was running around, but he was running too much to get it off his wings, so I carefully held him still with the file, and gently rubbed his wings towards the back of his body, and slid everything off the end.

At one point, as I’m holding on to the backside of this bee, I ponder “Do these guys sting?” and for a moment, after getting over my own ignorance, I was slightly horrified at what I was doing if he does indeed, given that I have the weirdest allergic reactions to far too many things, but I decided that if it was going to happen, it would have by then.

It suits my mind to think somehow he knew I was only trying to help.

z445 minutes later, he walked up onto my hand – which was terrifyingly wonderful (You may have gathered I’m not a bug person!), sat a moment, tested his wings, and then flew off out of the open window. I couldn’t help but smile!


Saving one bee may not save the world, but it will certainly change the future for that one bee. We don’t have to rescue them from spiders, but with 7 billion people on the planet, the greater percentage of us have the ability to at least do less to harm them, and can help with some easy actions.

Whether that’s making a source of water  during times of the year bees are active and visiting your garden, terrace, balcony, or plant pots, leaving the dandilions, some nettles and daisies, not using harmful pesticides and lawn treatments, planting bee friendly plants, avoiding GMO foods and crops (which we know is healthier for us, too), or resisting the temptation to kill bees simply because they are bees.

This is not a joke: the future of our food supplies, and the health of our earth rests heavily on these tiny shoulders.

Bees1.jpg

This is a hard world for all of us living here.

Bee Kind

Advertisements

Well, Yes, I AM “Only Concerned About Animal Rights”

6957333564333732676

Animal activists and advocates are often accused of putting animals first; of dismissing the challenges faced by humans in favor of animal rights. Well, humans are the only species on earth to oppress others, trade lives as commodities, and who treat living beings as disposable; to be used for our own conveniences. I’m all about changing that.

In all of the wars, genocides, and atrocities we’ve inflicted upon our own species historically, and as an ongoing shame, the incomprehensible suffering, and loss of life, is a drop in the ocean compared to the horrors we commit against animals. Shocking figures for the United States alone, list that over 9 billion farmed animals are killed every year by humans.

Wait a second.

9 billion.

This mind blowing death toll does not take into account fish, and other sea creatures, whose deaths happen in such great number they can only be measured in tonnes, and it does not include the animals killed for “sport”, killed in pounds and zoo’s for “lack of space”, to wear, experimented on, used for entertainment, commercial breeding, racing, or any other twisted ways we can profit from their use.

For perspective, by the end of the Jewish Holocaust, a monstrous undertaking, 6 million people had been persecuted and murdered by the Nazi’s, and countless other humans turned a blind eye and bought the story that “they are not like us“.

Albert Kaplan, a Jewish-American who lost family in the Holocaust, observes that: “The vast majority of Holocaust survivors are carnivores no more concerned about animals’ suffering than were the Germans concerned about Jews’ suffering…. we have learned nothing from the Holocaust.”

Of the people who have survived, and are facing violence and oppression at the hands of other humans, precious few realize the parallel of their own experiences, and those of the animals they in turn are causing suffering to. Before, and after enduring terrible circumstances, most show no mercy towards animals, and can be found using that same thinking their own tormentors do: they are not like us.

The same goes for people who have never been oppressed.

The majority of us are not killing and eating animals for survival, and there is irrefutable evidence to show we don’t need animal products to be healthy. We support their killing literally for the sake of a taste (and if we pay for it, we are supporting it). Surely such a reason can only classify as evil – death for a  want. Not need. A selfish, transient, want.

Is cheese really more important than a life?
Is bacon really more important than a life?

There aren’t too many people who would genuinely think either is, but when the law says animal agriculture is legal, along with the cruel practices it entails, when the advertizers blind consumers with feel-good labels and conveniently omit the atrocious reality of production, when our big religions decide that Gods created animals to be eaten, and humans have power over them (a whole topic in itself), and when our society in general operates within a backward paradigm in terms of our view of non human animals, we accept it as being “normal”, and it enables the most horrific treatment of other sentient beings, justifies slavery, torture, and murder on such a scale it dwarfs human struggles. It doesn’t negate what humans experience, but nothing we’ve ever faced comes close to the magnitude of the suffering of other animals, and we’re totally oblivious to the irony.

Deep down, most people know what we do is wrong, but we become comfortable in our ignorance; made easy by those who profit from the use of animals. This is all enabled because animals are treated as property, not really through capitalist ideals, which definitely don’t help, but because the last “ism” to be recognized legally, and by society, is speciesism; born from the same foundation which allows racism, sexism, and other labels for classifying the importance of someones life. The form a soul takes on this earth, doesn’t give us any moral right to cause harm, to anyone who can feel fear, pain, or otherwise suffer, or to dismiss the impact of our actions upon them.

“What about my rights?” is often the cry of those who like meat and don’t want to stop eating it; usually people who rarely witness taking the life from the body they want to consume, and who would quickly decide a hearty lentil burger was more appetizing if they had to kill the animal themselves. We do have the right to eat what we want. But in any honorable, evolved, compassionate, and intelligent way of living, those rights would be recognized only up to the point in which they encroach on the rights and wellbeing of others, to negatively affect another life.

“When I see cages crammed with chickens from battery farms thrown on trucks like bundles of trash, I see, with the eyes of my soul, the Umschlagplatz (where Jews were forced onto trains leaving for the death camps). When I go to a restaurant and see people devouring meat, I feel sick. I see a holocaust on their plates.”


Georges Metanomski,
a Holocaust survivor who fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

With so few protections and considerations given to animals, it’s no wonder that animal activists are only concerned about “animal rights”….humans are the ones doing the oppressing! But here’s the thing – we all should be fighting for animals, because, for those of us who have forgotten: humans are still animals.

We may break down the problems of the world into smaller, single issue points of focus, but we’re all in the same game here. Tackling racism, sexism, and speciesism, is the same fight. Black lives, white lives, and cows lives, matter. Womens rights are human rights, gay rights are human rights, human rights are animal rights. All we’re doing is extending the same right to live, and be free from harm, to all sentient beings. It’s not an extra we’re asking for, it isn’t a restriction of anyone elses rights, it’s a returning of what was never ours to take away.

If we could only see that, all of the justice activists in the world, working together, would be an incredible force for change. As it stands, the surpression of one group, makes our activism for another, hypocrisy.

In our self appointed superior status of the animal kingdom, and as the “advanced” species, we can do better, we should do better, we are able to do better, and as guardians of this planet, it’s our job to do better.

For all animals.

As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behaviour towards creatures, all men were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right.”

Isaac Bashevis Singer
–  Nobel Prize winner, who lost family in the Holocaust.

Say A Prayer For Animals, But DO Something Too.

sheltercat
For animal lovers, it’s rare a Facebook session doesn’t include one or more pleading stories from death row animals, or shelters desperately trying to find homes for some of the creatures who pass through their doors. For advocates and cross posters, there are so many of these posts that it’s hard to make a soul stand out, and get the best chance.

A particularly sad case passed my news feed recently, in which an old dog was killed in a “shelter” because no one came forward to adopt him. The post had 52 “Likes” and sad face reactions, 11 Shares, and 233 comments. Scrolling through them, I noticed that around 90% were “Sending prayers”, and Facebook’s new filtering system had hidden people pledging money, and transport for anyone able to get the dog out. The pledges more than covered the old boys adoption fees, in time, but they were seen too late.

This is also true in the majority of cases, that the amount of comments on a plea, although well meaning, far outweigh the shares of a post, which do more to help the situation than stating “I hope someone saves this cat”. Sometimes it’s making it harder to.

We have so many animals in need, but we’re sabotaging efforts to save them, by clogging up threads with genuine, but unhelpful comments – burying pledges/home/help offers in a sea of “prayers”. A missed home offer literally means the difference between life and death for these animals.

ACT instead.

If we truly subscribe to a religious life, we also have to understand that no God is there to fix everything. He, or She, is an enabler – putting us in situations we can help. Social media is a platform which can be used by every user to make a difference regardless of your ability to help in any other way, and the simple act of sharing a post could put the animal in front of those who can help them; for all you know, you were meant to see that post, and share it because the person who can help the animal is on your list.

Wishing the animals well is a wonderful thing, but we don’t need to publicly announce we hope they’re saved – no decent person would wish them dead, and whomever it is you’re praying to, isn’t sitting online.

By all means, say a prayer, as you share. But please, for the love of God, it’s time to stop commenting with things that people can’t use to save the poor souls in need. You mean well, but considerate action, can make your wishes achieve something.

If you can offer practical help, say so, but otherwise, think it, feel it, but keep it in your heart, and let relevant information be in the spotlight.

The Cruelty Right Under Our Noses, Because We Don’t Care Anyway.

I hadn’t eaten since lunch time, so when it got to 1am I was feeling the need to go raid the kitchen to see what I could find. I opened the fridge and my eyes settled on a box of newly purchased eggs (I’m vegan, but not the only person living in my house), and even if I wasn’t vegan, I don’t think I could have missed the words: “Eggs from caged hens”

Battery hens.

Birds condemned to live in cramped, dingy cages, with their allocated space being even smaller than a standard sheet of paper. Their entire lives, until they’re spent, and slaughtered as a “thank you” for their service.

No sunlit retirement, no dust baths, no digging in the earth.

No kind words as they slip into the night.

This is the reality for 95 percent of commercial hens, including “cage free”, unless they’re boys, in which case they’re ground up alive; useless to the egg industry.

“Eggs from caged hens” – we know what that means, and when such a truth is blatently printed for all to see, on the box next to the producers logo, the company evidently doesn’t care about the suffering they cause, or the ethics of doing so, for they wouldn’t keep living beings in such conditions.

And my Dad. My Dad, Didn’t care enough to even buy the supposedly kinder “Free Range” eggs, or was too switched off that any eggs would do.

We know that in most cases, “free range” is a feel-good title only, and the environments are still dire for the birds trapped in the system. From a buyers point of view though, free range eggs are a little more expensive, but nothing major – certainly not enough that it would dissuade someone from choosing them because they were too pricy, so you’d think that the average consumer at the very least would buy products which are marketed as “better”.

It’s just easier to pretend not to know.


photo_hen-on-pile-of-faeces
A hen fallen through the cracks; literally, stands on mounds of faeces from the rest of the caged captives. – Photo by Animals Australia

If people were to visit factory farms, and “free range” housing, in person, they’d be disgusted if they were decent humans. But when we’re so far removed from the actual production of “food” as we’ve become, there is a mental wall around the brain of most people, which even some intelligent, and caring people allow to be there, by embracing the ignorance is bliss attitude.

Another truth though, is that if we ignore the suffering, it doesn’t in any way absolve us from the responsibility of causing it.

CxKv0NnWEAQPcyN.jpg

Many cigarette boxes now have hard hitting images printed on them, to show people the effects of smoking on their lives, and those around them. I think it’s time we printed the victims of those we’re exploiting on every egg box, cheese, meat wrapper, and carton of milk.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and if we cannot say we did not know, yet still choose to support cruelty, we have no business calling ourselves kind, compassionate, or caring, because none of those things come with selective conditions.

If your heart is caged, set it free.

Some Humans Are Missing The Empathy Gene.

It has been a busy week here, and I sat down to reply to the touchingly kind, and caring comments people had left on the earlier passing of one of my girl rats, and the stories of their own, when I scrolled by this:

pathetic.png

There was a moment I almost had the knee jerk reaction which would have let this below par person have a negative impact on the way I was feeling, when I snapped to my senses to realize that they aren’t nearly worth it.

Instead, I’m going to use it to demonstrate something I’ve long thought: there are two types of humans. In a nutshell, the fatally flawed ones can be easily spotted by their utter lack of empathy and compassion; my sympathy to those who cross their path.

I believe most people are essentially good, and just trying to get through life as best they can. Tragically, as we do that, we’re influenced by traditions, society, marketing, and the normalzing of our horrific treatment towards others, but if people would open their eyes, and look outside the paradigm, they’d extend their compassion to all beings.

Then there are the people who are missing the empathy gene. These people will never change, regardless of what’s presented to them, and it’s these people who are holding society back.

Different even from those who make “Mmm Bacon” jokes on pictures of suffering pigs, because generally those comments are the result of a defense mechanism when presented with an uncomfortable reality.

This particularly hopeless case decides to create an “Anti Roland” username, comment on a post he didn’t write, on a blog which isn’t his, with a deliberately cruel rhetoric, on something which mattered to me, presumably because Roland is important in my life, and he clearly has said something which challenges a self important world view. Roland and I may not always agree on method, but we always agree on how vital it is we move this world to a place which is protective of all animals, and people.

Now if “particularly hopeless” seems harsh, consider this:

What kind of person would go to the page of someone other than the person they dislike, to respond in such a way, with no other outcome than causing distress?

And even if it was written by Roland, who tries to cause more pain, to anyone who is already experiencing it?

To my dear non-friend Anti-Empathy, there are things which are obvious about you as a person:

  • You have a regressive outlook on life, shown by the lack of consideration for Alice simply because she was a rat.
  • You support animal cruelty in some way. A compassionate, animal-kind person, wouldn’t make such a statement, even if they were angry at someone.
  • You are highly likely to be a sociopath.
  • You don’t like being held accountable for your actions.
  • You are incredibly immature, and would do far better in life, to grow up.

As initially jarring as the comment was to read, I’ve decided to leave it there. Other people can see what you are, alongside your cowardly name.

To all of the genuinely decent humans here, and elsewhere online, and off, who have been truly wonderful, and are going out into the world with eyes and hearts wide open, to make a positive difference for everyone we share this planet with,

Thank You.

Thank You.

The Passing Of A Rat Ambassador

mr.pngI’m sad to write another rat related post, after announcing the arrival of the recent additions (who for the record, are not boys at all!).

For the last two hours, I’ve been trying to stop myself from crying, and form some kind of sense with the feelings I have, and what I want to write.

Tonight, Alice, affectionately known as Miss Rat, passed away in my arms, and I am devastated. And I’m angry.

Yes. Over a rat.

Alice was a special needs rat, who arrived here in November 2015, at just under 4 weeks old, along with her two brothers (who were supposedly girls because they were “all black”…); she was always the small one, but also the brave one.

12308642_1634338880150695_8493472559090321564_n

It was evident she wasn’t doing as well physically as the others, and as she grew, so did her health problems, among which were respiratory issues, and the nerves in her intestines didn’t work properly. She had a benign tumor in her abdomen caused by a connective tissue disorder, a weakened immune system, and all of her problems were caused by human carelessness.

But no one cared how she would have to live in the world, because she was never intended to live. She was only snake food.

My friend Toni and I walked into a dingy high-rise with boarded up windows, and found ourselves in the home of a man who was in the process of moving, but illegally selling snakes and other reptiles. We also spied a cramped box with a huge tarantula in the corner of the living room, and met a large “bitchy” snake kept in a bare plastic storage box in the kitchen cupboard;who was then paraded around before we got to see the rats.

We’d gone to look at these babies, after a “change of heart”, on a maybe, but there was no way we were leaving without them – I tried for a week to persuade the guy to give or sell me the parent rats, but he wasn’t budging.

After a trip to Toni’s for everyone to recover, and to get a decent look at them, they made it home, and walked right through the bars of the first house they had, on the first night! I ended up with two “nurseries” – Miss Rats was a tiny pink cage, which she kept organized, even as a baby.

mre

Over the last little while, Miss Rat’s time has been spent mostly sitting with me, or a very occasional wander around the room for a few minutes, and it was obvious she was ageing much faster than her brothers. I had to carry her to the house a few times lately, so while I’m not shocked, I am deeply saddend.

She was an ambassador for creatures much of the world would kill in a heartbeat. She was curious, loving, playful, a home maker, comfort lover, and she brought rat kibble as gifts; rats aren’t at all as many imagine them to be, they’re clean, sociable, entertaining, and highly intelligent.

20155912_1895726350678612_3615278478994076942_n

She was a sweet, gentle soul, who had heart and personality that far exceeded her tiny size, and her tiny size had no bearing at all on the importance of her life, nor lessens the impact of the loss of her presence.

If people could have met Miss Rat, they’d never do the horrific things we do to her kind.

If there were a heaven for rats, she more than earned her place.

Some Rats Dream, Some Rats Cry.

sp_july12017

I didn’t plan on getting more, but as I’m sure many of you understand, the way this works is often different…. so yesterday, two rats joined my pack to live alongside the previous four, of two girls, and two boys. The new boys, are unwanted, and arrived at my home by taxi, carried carefully by a simultaneously bemused, and slightly terrified driver, and after getting them settled in, they were left to rest for the night.

The photo you see, is how I found them this morning.

I stood quietly by their cage so as not to disturb them, and I was moved by how soundly they were sleeping; their fate in the hands of any human their path would have crossed, but here they are to stay, till they don’t need a home anymore.

I watched these tiny creatures, whose personalities I don’t even know yet, but their presence has been a joy already. And heartbreaking. Highly sociable, intelligent, and demonstrative of empathy, rats are great fun to have around. I’ve known a few over the years, and all have very distinctive characters, and ways of living in the world.

But rats are some of the most abused animals on the planet. Of the resident rats here, three were destined for snake food, and Luna, an adorable young rat, was also another “unwanted”. Tragically, compared to the millions of rats around the globe, their troubles have been mild.

Lost in dreams, these boys made for a beautiful moment, but it was overlaid by images of the hundreds of thousands currently being exposed to horrific, and fruitless experiments in labs. The tiny “feeder” babies, bred only to keep snakes and reptiles alive because people think they’re “cool” to imprison as pets. The rats caught in glue traps, and awaiting agonizing deaths through other vile methods of “pest control”, and the unwanted rats who languish in soulless cages till they die of old age, if they’re lucky; broken spirits ignored by humans who “lost interest”.

Pet rats are considered disposable because people ignorantly believe they’re lacking many of the traits we assign to cats and dogs (though we see far too many people doing the same with them), but they have great memories, are self aware, and they’re highly switched on to the world around them.

Once when I was sick, a rat brought me kibble. They share their excitememt with you, and they greet you with the enthusiasm of any dog, if you earn their friendship. They study you, and weigh you up; infact, just today I had a moment with one of the new boys in which we stood looking at eachother, and he was obviously considering this new being before him. I wish we could talk to animals, but I hoped that by some fortune, he could understand I mean him no harm, and that here is safe. Here is home.

As I walked by their temporary space on our dining room table tonight, both boys were asleep again. I smiled.

There are few things as warming to your soul as watching babies, or animals, sleeping,

But few things as devastating, when you’re aware of the flipside.