really, it was a shrew
a long rambling rant about mice in drains and sacredness of life and logistics of different dietary beliefs and related whatnot.
yet another repost from facebook's hidden can't find 'em notes section. January 3, 2014 at 7:02pm
this morning when i was brushing my teeth i noticed something moving around under the drain strainer. first i thought it was some wad of lint and hair wiggling because of the water hitting it. but then it looked more and more like an animal nose. there was a mouse in the sink drain. how in the world did it get in there? so i took off the strainer and was wondering how to get it out. there wasn't much room between the mouse and the sides of the pipe. so i put the edge of a towel down the drain and it climbed out, and then i took it in the towel down to the basement and let it go.
this sort of thing puts me in a gray area of morality/ethics. what is the best thing to do?
i have my own religious or philosophical beliefs. one thing is i believe all life is sacred and should be respected. that means _all_ life: humans, elephants, mice, ants, sequoia trees, dandelions, apple trees, amoebas, flu viruses, all life. (well, actually, i believe all inanimate things deserve respect, too - air, water, rocks, soil, etc.)
i believe it is ok to kill if you are going to eat it or use it or if it is threatening you. just be respectful and humane. don't do anything wanton or wasteful.
so i believe it is ok to eat bacon or carrots and make shoes out of the leather from the animal you got meat from or make a table out of wood or take penicillin when you have an infection.
i am just against factory farms, dousing everything with hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and genetic engineering, pollution, clear cutting rain forest etc. disrespecting life and nature and our planet. but there are ways to kill animals as quickly as possible, so they never knew what hit them, and ways to harvest plants that don't wreak havoc with any nearby life, plant or animal.
but i always am in a dilemma about what to do with minor threats, you might call them.
i don't kill anything i don't need to.
i try not to squish mosquitoes when they bite me - sometimes i accidentally do, but usually i just wait for them to fill up on blood and fly away (i only get a mild reaction - just a little welt that itches a little for an hour or so. i don't know what i'd do if i had a serious allergic reaction).
i don't step on ants or cockroaches or use bug spray. i try to make things less inviting for them - keep food in containers, empty the trash often, clean up spills right away - so they don't find all kinds of great food and come back in force.
mice - well, a few who stay in the house in winter and then go outside in summer & forage for seeds and all - that's ok. just not tons of mice gnawing boxes & getting into the flour. my cats kill and eat mice, so i guess things are sort of in balance, nature-wise.
so much of nature is out of whack because of human meddling. nature by itself is a well working balanced system. like, wolves hunt deer, and weak sick wolves don't get deer to eat and weak sick deer get eaten by wolves, so they both keep each other strong. then humans kill off a lot of wolves and the deer population explodes. so actually, humans hunting deer is a tiny way to try to regain some facsimile of balance, as well as not hunting wolves. most human hunters i know do not just wantonly kill things, they have sort of an almost reverence for nature, and killing a deer means food for the family, and they try to kill it quickly - like, a shot right between the eyes or somesuch. of course i am against wackos who just want to kill kill kill. like those people who go on safari in africa and kill elephants and lions just to kill something.
every year i have to ponder weeding the garden. i guess it is a "threat" for weeds to crowd out flowers and vegetables i planted. i try to do minimal weeding - make space around my planted plants, but leave weeds that are on the sides of the garden or between rows. and apologize to the spirits of the plants i killed.
so far, ants and cockroaches and mice and mosquitoes have not been a big threat to me, so i'm not going to try to get rid of them (mass murder them). i don't know what i'd do if the house was in danger.
about 20 years ago there were carpenter ants in the basement and they were eating away at the supports of the stairs. i had a cigar box in the bathroom, full of lipstick and some wrapped bars of soap. one day when i went into the bathroom, i saw something shiver out of the corner of my eye. i looked, and there was a roiling mass of carpenter ants on the cigar box. so i took it outside (this was in the summer) and the ants made a hasty retreat, carrying their babies, and took off in a direction away from my house. they had chewed up the soap wrappers and pasted together the lipstick tubes and had the babies in the resulting tunnels between the tubes.
i haven't had carpenter ants in the house since. i don't know what i would do if there were carpenter ants or termites undermining my house. i guess first i would try to make them go away with maybe something they don't like that taste or smell of. i've used marigolds & garlic to keep some insects away from my flowers. also had a fake owl in the attic to scare away mice & squirrels.
i have always felt/believed plants are just as important as animals, and lately i have been reading scientific papers about plant intelligence. i always believed plants are intelligent, even sentient, in a way we can't fathom, but their lives are so so so different from us that we can't understand at all. what would it be like to stay in one exact spot your entire life, even if you live for thousands of years?
plants sense the same things we humans can - they sense light, and touch - heat, humidity, gravity, and can sense sound, and chemical signals (like our taste/smell). they communicate with each other, through chemical signals (like the smell of fresh mowed grass is an announcement/warning to other grass) and through high frequency vibrations, and even use certain kinds of fungus as a conduit.
and they sure manipulate animals - for instance, i am amazed by orchids whose flowers look like female wasps, and they spread pollen through the male wasps mating with several blossoms.
i also revere some plants just because they are old or huge. it seems like they have something we should be in awe of, maybe some sort of amazing wisdom. for example, 5,000 year old bristlecone pines, and thousand year old sequoia trees, and giant underground mycelia (one honey mushroom individual in oregon covers four square miles and is between 2,000 or maybe even 8,000 years old). who are we to say these don't count somehow or don't have rights, or it's ok to kill them, just because they are not part of kingdom animalia?
it is interesting that when i say plants are living beings. people who are vegan or vegetarian get mad at me or make fun of me, while people who are omnivores agree with me and even mention scientific papers about plant intelligence.
it does bother me that most vegetarian or vegan people (not all!) i talk to seem to think plants are things, like, say, paperclips or light bulbs. i think that is sad, actually.
i know some people will think i'm crazy, (ha! but i _am_ crazy, so get over it! bwa ha ha ha. run! run!) but then others i know have had similar experiences: sometimes if you go out in the woods and make yourself still, you can "hear" the trees. or other plants. they don't "say" "howdy there." or anything, but somehow they convey abstract idea/feelings. like, i've "heard/sensed/felt" something like "growth" or something like that from trees in some woods, or a direction, i think towards the sun in that valley or by that lake. it is really impossible to translate.
actually, we humans don't even communicate well with other mammals. like whales, for example. they are as intelligent & sentient as humans. but their life is so different - they don't need to build shelters or make clothes or plant gardens or make vehicles or make communication devices.
i read that before humans made so much noise with engines and sonar and drilling, whales could communicate all over the world, sing songs that whales hundreds of miles away could hear and then relay messages.
what whales may think about and sing must be very different from what we might imagine. maybe they have some things we could grasp, like concepts of navigation or weather or ocean currents or plankton. but maybe they have some sort of mathematics/philosophy/poetry/music that we'll never be able to comprehend.
but we humans are not the be all and end all or better than other life forms.
also i wonder about the details and logistics that people have who believe killing animals is wrong no matter what. i believe that since we humans are animals, we have to kill to survive; we can't make our own food out of light & water & air like most plants can; we have to kill other plants and animals to get the nutrition we need.
we can get basic nutrition from plants, but then we are still killing living beings. and interrupting their lives. for example, carrots and turnips and the like spend all summer storing up food so that they can bloom and produce seeds the following year, but we humans kill them, rip them out of the ground, roots and leaves and all, in the first year while they were storing, and we chop them up alive and eat them, so they don't get their chance to bloom and go to seed.
and then humans have teeth for tearing flesh and grinding vegetable matter...
i don't mean anything mean or disrespectful, but i am wondering -- what counts as an "animal", if it is wrong to kill animals? does that mean anything in the kingdom animalia? or just some phyla or species or whatever? and what are the criteria? of course don't kill chordates, i guess. but in the phylum arthropoda -- if it's wrong to kill a lobster, what about a bedbug - since both are in the phylum arthropoda, part of kingdom animalia. how do you not kill any animals at all, for instance, dealing with mosquitoes or cockroaches or lice or tapeworms or an amoeba infection?
i was wondering, say for lice, could you carefully comb out the insects and their eggs, and then put them in a terrarium and feed them blood from your finger? but they'd probably eventually die off. but then you tried to keep them alive. ???
some people have told me they don't want to kill anything that has pain receptors, but i'm wondering how you define that? a plant doesn't have eyes that can cry or a brain (well, maybe roots are brains of sorts) or nerves, but can you prove they don’t "feel" anything? why would cut grass warn other grass plants?
i think we, all humans, even me, tend to be anthro centric - is that the word - ? we compare everything to us, to our bodies, thoughts, civilizations, as if we are somehow the standard by which all should be measured and compared.
but i try not to be so human-centric, and try to see the big picture. i think studying astronomy helped - seeing what a tiny speck the earth is, what a tiny speck the solar system is, what a tiny speck the milky way is in the universe. we are nothing.
plus, we humans are part of the earth and life and nature on our planet, and we can't make value judgements. we can't put human morals on animals and plants. and human morals change with time & circumstance. just read about different cultures and civilizations besides your own. things you might think repugnant and immoral are perfectly ok in some other schemes of things. and vice versa.
who is right? it seems we are filled with hubris if we think we are Right. i mean any we, any time, any where. but then, one might as well try to live as morally and ethically and compassionately as one's culture defines it.
aaaaiiiieeee... ok i will stop, too much rambling, sorry, but let me know what you think and please don't be offended, i am but one being spewing out my beliefs i have honed over many years of thinking, reading, conversing, experiencing, hallucinating, dreaming.
and, gaaah, i can't get that image of mouse nose wiggling in the drain out of my mind. eeeeeek.
something else i've been thinking/wondering. it seems to me that veganism and privilege go hand in hand. i don't mean to offend my vegan friends, and please do explain that i am wrong, because actually i do hope my anecdotal observations are wrong. in the past 40 - 50 years i've met, got to know, became friends with vegans and non-vegans, and in my limited experience, all the vegans i know are white middle class people with money and transportation. and then, all these non-white people i know, i mean like black & hispanic & american indian, are not vegans, and people i know who are "disadvantaged" - live in inner city ghetto or are rural poor, are not vegan. and they don't have that choice, like inner city people with no money or transportation can't get to big grocery stores or farmer's markets or out to farms in the country. they are stuck with convenience store krap food. and rural poor might have a vegetable garden & fruit & nut trees, but in winter, they have to go out and shoot some rabbits or deer or something just to keep from starving. so... also what to do about it? i really think somehow csa boxes should be made available to inner city people, for example. at least to get more vitamins & roughage, even if ppl still eat meat. we need to fight against factory farms & pollution etc. but meanwhile, the way things are today, thanks to greed and capitalism, a lot of people don't have the luxury of a choice about food or ideals about food.