Wednesday, June 29, 2016

May All Beings Be Happy

Is it possible?

This saying kind of "tingled" my brain perhaps several years ago. Let's dissect this idea.
According to Macmillan Dictionary – one of my favorite dictionaries – "being" means "a living thing". Therefore, "all beings" are all living things, which include all humans, animals, plants, as well as microorganisms, such as bacteria.

Now let's take a look at the second most important word in the phrase: "happy". The same dictionary defines "happy" as "feeling pleasure and enjoyment because of your life, situation, etc." (I don't think anybody would disagree with this definition)

Now that we, hopefully, understand what the sentence means, let's move on to the question that has made me ponder: Is it likely that all beings will be happy?

Lions and zebras. I believe everyone knows the relationship between these two types of animals. To put it simply, lions try to hunt zebras and zebras try not to be hunted by the "kings of the jungle". Do zebras want to be feasted on by lions? Of course not; that's why they run as fast as they can when lions are chasing them. Do lions want to let zebras eat grass peacefully? Definitely not since lions have to fill their rumbling stomachs or otherwise they will die. So I guess it is pretty clear that either lions are happy or zebras are happy. It is utterly impossible that both kinds of beings are happy (please let me know if there is a zebra approaching a lion in order to be devoured by the predator, or if somewhere on Earth a lion, while being surrounded by a dozen zebras, fasted until it died).

It is just one out of, I believe, a huge number of predator-prey relationships on this planet – birds and worms, grizzly bears and salmon, Tyrannosaurus rex and hadrosaurs, you name it. Parasitism (such as, the relationship between fleas and your neighbor's beloved dog) is another happiness-is-just-for-one-of-them association.

It appears that we live in an unfair and nasty world. But that's how nature works. Species strive to continue their existence with a broad spectrum of behavior, even if it requires members of other species to suffer or even die.
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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Animal Abuse

On June 21, 2016, the Lychee and Dog Meat Festival, perhaps familiarly known as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, began in China, despite a cornucopia of opposition from inside and outside of the country. The dog-slaughtering event has aroused my desire to express my view on this fairly controversial topic: animal abuse.

Modern humans have existed for a relatively long time, around 200,000 years. Our ancestors must have fed on a wide variety of diets, including a great number of members of the animal kingdom. It makes a lot of sense to think so since the present time sees human consumption of numerous kinds of creatures – some of which you would probably gape at — as a means of surviving in the modern world. The Manadonese, a tribe native to Manado, one of the largest cities in Indonesia located in Celebes island, take it to an extreme. It is a common practice for the locals to eat bat, cat, and rat meat, as well as dog and monkey. Perhaps this ethnic group is comparable to the Chinese, who are also known to indulge themselves in enjoying a vast range of foods made out of animal flesh.

Is it morally wrong to kill a dog and devour it? Does it deserve to be abhorred to take out a clowder of cats and cook "steaks" out of them? As with a bunch of other things, humans can't be separated from culture. Different cultures may have differing attitudes toward this issue. Those who are accustomed to it would say it is perfectly all right – it might be weird for them not to eat a certain kind of animal. On the other hand, others might see this sort of act as being cruel and evil.

Actually it is not really difficult to work out why this can happen. People grow in different environments and are shaped by them. It is worth mentioning that humans naturally have feelings, such as compassion. Dog and cat lovers would say a BIG yes in reply to the two questions posed at the beginning of the previous paragraph. Being in contact with these types of animal for a long time – perhaps in most cases, since the creatures were born – have certainly generated affection and pity in them, hence the disfavor.

There was a controversy relating to this matter in Indonesia a few months ago: dog lovers protested to the owner of a pet shop in South Tangerang against a puppy/puppies being fed to the snake pet(s). When I first noticed this, I thought, What would snake lovers do if they knew this? Would they protest to the dog lovers?

It seems silly to actually grumble about this situation. If the human race has maintained their existence in varied ways, why should we, the current generation, feel agitated? In my opinion, as long as it doesn't have a negative effect on our species' survival, it really is no problem. (Some people might have a thought that it is simply wrong to kill an animal. However, do they care about the massacre of countless chickens that will end up at KFC's and McDonald's tables every day? I believe not – consistency is the key here.)

I am suddenly reminded of the killing of Harambe, a gorilla in the Cincinnati Zoo, the U.S., which took place recently. He was shot dead with the intention to prevent a young boy who had fallen into the gorilla's territory from experiencing imminent death. While I agree that we need to conserve biodiversity, saving living things from extinction, our species has always to take priority over others.
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Sunday, June 12, 2016


The younger brother of my late grandfather has just passed away. The decease of the relative of mine propelled me into a state of questioning one of man's ever discussed subjects: death.

Birth and death are two phenomena that (must) take place in a person's life. People were born into this world via their mothers' – or in some cases, others' – wombs and will die of something (an accident, disease, shock, a combination of several damaging things, or some other cause) someday down the road. It seems that the human race still hasn't found a way to stop the latter from happening.

Death actually is a natural thing. If you think about it, all creatures, including dinosaurs, die. Species continually disappear and give rise to others, letting them fill the niches left behind.

However, Homo sapiens is a limit-breaking species. It is so astonishing that they have always achieved things that they always wanted to (think of the telephone, airplane, Internet, and the like). So, it won't be stupefying that some time to come humans can prevent the so-called unstoppable event.

The next question would be "What happens after death?" The quick answer is we don't know. Religions provide varied answers to this mystery, at least some of them referring to the concept of Heaven and Hell. But frankly speaking, we just don't have the faintest idea about what really happens after the "frightening" occurrence.

How long is a human's life? I guess it is, on average, in the region of 70 years or so. I think, with such a limited lifespan and our incapabilities to know when we will die, it would be wise to consider death as a humbling reminder of our "mere" existence and a motivation to make the most of our lives.
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