Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.
Seven years ago, give or take a few months, my beagle Prudence found a newborn kitten in my front yard. The kitten had suffered an injury to its leg and had been abandoned by its mother. The umbilical cord was still attached at the kitten’s abdomen and he was even a bit sticky. What is a person expected to do in such circumstances?
I brought the pathetic creature into the house, dressed its wound and thus began several weeks of sleep-deprived nights, bottle feeding the babe like it was one of my own. I never really expected the wretched being to survive, but survive he did. For some unknown reason, the cat became known around our house as Wasabi Jones (Jonsie, or Mr. Jones for short).
Within several months the ravenous waif evolved into a robust feline, but soon it become apparent that something was not quite right with our Mr. Jones. He drooled a lot, was overly-affectionate at times and then out of the blue, and for no apparent reason, would viciously attack whoever was unfortunate enough to be in his crosshairs (political pun intended). Sometimes these attacks would happen when one was sound asleep in bed. Not nice.
At first we brushed off Jonsie’s psychopathy as the maladaptive behavior of a young cat that didn’t have the benefit of growing up around other kittens. He would grow out of it. But 7 years later, he hasn’t. For seven years, we have nurtured, cared for and tried to love this fellow mortal, but he has made it very difficult. While he seems to be of reasonable intelligence – he holds his own against the other cats and even managed to hunt down a rabbit once (actually probably just another symptom of his lunacy) – he seems to lack the ability to connect on any level with the other organisms who share his domicile.
After a recent, bloody attack and having done some current reading on psychological dysfunction for some previous blog posts, it occurred to me that our Mr. Jones is a feline sociopath. 7 years ago when his mother gave birth to him and then instantly discarded him on my front lawn, she must have had some inkling of how he would turn out. Felines and all other members of the animal kingdom seem to have an innate sense to dispose of the genetically unfit. Mother birds boot the weak out of the nest. Mice, rats and rabbits eat their less than par progeny. If I knew then what I know now about my psycho kitty, I would have taken him into the woods and let nature have her way.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Wasabi Jones now that he is part of my family. I put up with him and my husband and adult children also seem to accept his presence in our home as a cross we all must bear (unless there are any Good Samaritan takers out there in the blogosphere:). But, when I took in what Jones’ mother, in her instinctive wisdom, threw away, I committed a natural no-no. Why did I do this? Because I am a product of Western culture.
Contemporary society demands acceptance to the creed that every human life is sacred. Some even contend that fertilized human eggs should be extended Constitutional rights. I say there are too many people in the world and we should seriously consider reasonable population controls (no I am not suggesting any form of genocide), but that is fodder for another blog post. I personally don’t think every sperm is sacred, but I do have a problem turning my back on any living thing in need; thus, I am suffering the consequences. Nature has a kind of brutal beauty that regularly sacrifices the few for the sake of the many. Those who are unfit are recycled back into the system to take up shape in new life forms. Humans are clogging up the system with too much Homo sapiens biomass.
After Wasabi Jones came to inflict himself on us, we were visited by two more kitties. The first, Peter Snowball, was a stray from school who came home in one of the kids’ jackets on a cold winter’s night. Peter wasted no time getting comfortable, immediately gained about 10 pounds, and has been a loving, contributing member of our household ever since.
The next feline acquisition came in the form of a brazen intruder. My husband was collecting his boots from the mudroom one day and was greeted by a small black kitten sitting on a shelf. Loco Stinky is now three years old and continues to be brazen, but she too is a loving, contributing member of our household.
The tale of the two kitties Snowball and Stinky – contrasted with that of Wasabi Jones - is one that demonstrates the wisdom of natural selection. Both felines must have faced extreme adversity immediately after coming into the world, and their survival is a testament to their genetic and social fitness. Snowball lived for over a year off the kindness of strangers, begging for french fries and other unwanted scraps at the school’s dining hall. His winning personality ensured his survival by this methodology.
Stinky survived as only the fittest can. Weighing in at a few mere ounces, she had to brave Bruce the 150 lb. wonderdog and the beagle on the porch to make it into the house. Once inside, she cemented success by being personable enough not to end up on Craigslist. Through a combination of sociability and street smarts the two naturally-selected, fit kitties managed to arrange pretty decent lives for themselves.
For a long time, the problem with the cat society in the Wood household was that originally, the psychopath ruled the roost. Knowing he could be subjected to a brutal attack without provocation, the more mild mannered Snowball submitted at every confrontation. Wasabi Jones claimed all the choice turf (like the master bedroom) for himself and dominated at the food dish. With the introduction of the bold and beautiful Stinky, who is unwilling to take any shit from anybody, and the benefit of numbers, Stinky and Snowball have managed to turn the tide of power. Stinky has not only liberated herself from the tyranny of Wasabi Jones, but in doing so has freed Snowball from his life of subjugation. Sanity has been restored.
While compelling in its own right, the above narrative of my three cats has a telling parallel in the human world. Anthropologist Ruth Benedict once theorized that throughout history the world has had “good” cultures and “bad” cultures, with the good cultures, being peaceful and ecologically sustainable and bad cultures being warring and environmentally-destructive.
Benedict’s research found that good cultures were characterized by egalitarian and communal rather than hierarchical and individualistic social and economic structures. In the good societies, people who blatantly accumulated resources and who were prone to violence and greed were ostracized. In the “bad” societies, those individuals who dominated through violence and accumulation were exalted to positions of authority in the hierarchy. Western culture today would fall into the “bad” category here.
In the modern world, he who possesses the most weapons of mass destruction and the most predatory economic model wins. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Peace-loving, sane people who really don’t want more than their fair share of resources are a majority. The problem is that the few aggressive psychotics have intimidated everyone else into submission. Like Snowball and Stinky, we need to take the Earth back from the lunatics and restore sanity before it is too late.
The Chrysanthemum and the Sword by Ruth Benedict