A lot of newborns have been gracing us at the farm lately. We have had 11 new chickens, 13 new piglets, and 8 new lambs. They are all very energetic and basically like to get out and run around, especially the piglets. But before this starts to sound too idyllic, one of the lambs died because it’s mother refused to let it feed, one of the runts of the pig litter had its leg broken when it’s mother stepped on it trying to get away from the piglets, and another piglet was crushed to death by its mother laying on it for too long. How can animals be such terrible parents? I would have assumed that animals would be very protective of their young, since there is little else they think about but survival. But what survival? Every time I approach the pigs, or the sheep, or the chickens, the first to run are the elders, as the young do not know better. This means the individuals survival seems to be much higher on the natural list, as is rational. If there is an overwhelming threat to a group, the individual who is capable should flee, because that means survival, even if it means the destruction of those who cannot. Therefore more survive.
But for example, how would we feel if when a child was threatened, the parent simply abandoned it? We would immediately castigate the parent as negligent, if not outright evil. This example, which I hope most would agree comes to a realistic conclusion, demonstrates two things. One, society is not rational. We do not make our decisions based on rationality, nor is it deeply valued by most. Anyone who follows politics, sociology, or anthropology can easily point out examples of this. This is not a condemnation, but an admittance, and may be a strength. This is possible because the second conclusion is that there are limits to pure reason. I suspect that these limits are personal, and of course shaped by the culture and environment that one is part of. But as one who has held pure reason as the highest good for some time now, it is interesting to come to my limit.
I would rather that the pigs herded their young and the ewes were doting mothers. But that is not the reality, as animals seem to be beings of pure reason, doing what they do for existences sake alone. I prefer humanity in its flaws, pride, and courage. We may create some of the most terrible conditions ever encountered by living beings, like war and poverty, but we also produce some the only examples of love and selflessness to be found on this Earth, since apparently nature does not readily supply these. We should take pride in the latter, but tempered by knowledge of the former.
Luckily, this has revealed some underlying assumptions I did not know that I had. One is that I consider family one of the highest goods. It is something visceral that we can depend on, provided that the family is strong enough to break our fall. The family always seemed like a rather abstract concept to me. During high school, I preferred to spend time with friends or on my own, but now that I have actually spent a significant time away from them, I realize how much energy and strength I gain from their mere presence. Hopefully I won’t ever forget that. The second is that moral adherence is preferable to physical survival. This is steeped in two thousand years of the idea of self-sacrifice that has been lauded by the Church (and dutifully ignored in practice), and a childhood of reading what are essentially myths (stories where things happen according to how they should occur, not how they do occur). In these stories, the sinful atone by sacrificing themselves and the heroes die for their causes. This assumption terrifies me. Deep down, I apparently believe things happen as they should, that the good guys win and every crime is solved by either CSI or the cops from Law & Order. But I know from world events that people, good people, die every day, from hunger because their government is spending all its money on armaments instead of agricultural aid, from easily preventable diseases because drugs are too expensive, or of exposure on cold nights because they have no home and no one to shelter them. The world we live in is harsh, the consequences for those who live day to day are deadly. And yet, seemingly I still believe that good will win, that the deserving are rewarded, and that Eliot Stabler will punch the bad guy in the face. Belief can be powerful, but only if it is put to use. I don’t know if I am strong enough to do that.
For some news, there are rumblings that rival crime syndicates in two nearby cities are getting ready to fight, and not the clean kind of fight either. Please keep the people of Mexico affected by the war on drugs in mind next time the news rolls around, because America isn’t the only one paying for it’s drug habit.
Well, that was all fairly depressing. I am doing well, the farm keeps me busy, and my family continues to put up with my “stupid American” questions. I have now attended two quince?eras and a wedding, my soccer team is the local champ (though I did not play in the final game), and I now know that almost all tequila comes from the state of Jalisco and mescal (another type of liquor) comes from Oaxaca (pronounced wah-HA-kuh).