Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

I was outside yesterday and spotted a large bird soaring from above. I was debating over what kind of bird it was with one of my co-workers. He thought it was a hawk, but I disagreed at first. I thought it was an eagle, but I am only aware of two breeds of eagles living in Minnesota the bald and golden eagle. This bird seemed far too big to be a hawk or falcon, but we finally ended up agreeing on it as being a hawk. We just stood there staring in amazement. This bird was so majestic just gliding from above. There were times he seemed to hover in one place. As if we were not already lucky enough a bald eagle came into the picture and we were able to see both circling in the sky! The hawk was diving at the eagle trying to get it to stay out of its air space. I assumed by the way they were flying they were hunting.

I considered myself lucky to see something so beautiful. It is always fantastic to see an animal you do not normally see. I love birds so this sighting was extra special for me. My work is right by a lake so I have seen both bald eagles and golden eagles. The golden eagles I spotted about a month back, and was the first time I had ever seen that breed of eagle in my life. Birds bring me such a sense of serenity. I am not sure why; I just know I am mesmerized by them.

I am not so much into breeds you see everyday. I get extra excited spotting one which I consider rare. Not rare in extinction, but rare in my eyes. We put up a hummingbird feeder over the summer and I was skeptical over ever seeing one. I had only seen a hummingbird once in my life and I didn’t even get a good look at it. Sure enough hummingbirds started coming to this feeder everyday. The first time I saw one I was floored with joy. We were also lucky enough to have a colorful breed trying to get in our house everyday. They would fly into the window over and over again trying to get in. I figured they were canaries who got loose and were trying to find their way home. They didn’t quite look like canaries so I thought they may be a breed of finch. Between these two birds, hawks, falcons, and eagles I would say I had a fantastic summer.   

This beautiful site reminded me of the Tao. The hawk and eagle simply extended their wings took off and soared in the wind. They do not try to change the wind patterns; they just adapt, and accept this as it is. They are content with what the wind has to offer them. They never sit wishing for stronger gusts, they just use what is right in front of them. These birds are living essential lessons of the Tao. They are not even aware they are living in harmony with the Tao.

Perhaps this is the downfall of man. We have so many things in our lives which do nothing but complicate matters. We try so hard to fill our lives with things designed to bring us happiness, and we get lost in the hunt. We are raised to be guided by our ego always searching for more and living for what the future will bring rarely living in the moment. We have a hard time adapting to change. The eagle instinctually knows the only constant in life is change. We have a hard time adapting to the Tao’s changing breezes. These birds do not sit in fear over change they simply adapt.

I think the simple minds of animals keep them in constant harmony with the Tao and what is. We as humans are burdened with so much thought we lose touch with what is. The more I read and learn the lessons of the Tao; the more I realize if we were to all live her lessons on a daily basis we would have a perfect society. I can only hope one day I am able to live the lessons of the Tao everyday of my life. I can only hope I will be as knowledgeable of the Way like The Rambling Taoist. I have grown to admire him more than anyone I have ever known.

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After my post yesterday on fallibilism; I started to contemplate on animal’s capability to make logical decisions, and compared them humans. I didn’t dwell on this theory until I received a comment from braonthree.wordpress.com. Her stance behind humans ability to make logical decisions and the philosophical doctrine of fallibilism; was any logic or reasoning by humans is fallible. She credits reason, memory, and emotion as examples for why humans are unable to obtain absolute truth. This comment brought my earlier theory to the forefront of my mind. My conclusion was animals have superior logic and reasoning skills. Animals possess these superior skills, because they do not make their decisions based off memory, emotion, and perceived objective and subjective facts.

 When lions are confronted by a pack of hyenas trying to steal their kill, they do not retreat based off the emotion of fear; this is likewise for the hyenas decision. The lions/hyenas are able to break down the situation, and make their decision based on logic. If they choose to retreat it is not due to emotions, it is their ability to know they are outnumbered. They understand the statistical odds of their survival, even if they are not aware of their capacity to break down complicated math formulas. If food is scarce and hunger kicks in, they are able to adjust their logic based on the probability of starvation if they do not stand and fight. These decisions are based off a finely tuned trial and error turned into instinct which is passed on to each generation, creating perfect logic.

 If we look at human beings fondness of war, death, and destruction; we discover humans are incapable of passing down our trial and error lessons. The sad part is we have history books reminding us of the futile efforts of such behavior, yet we are unable to learn from past mistakes. Ignoring these lessons from our past, is a result of emotions such as; greed, pride, anger, intolerance, and hate. Logically Hitler had to know the genocide of the Jews; because he was denied into art school didn’t make any sense. He had to know there was truly no difference between him and the ones he aimed to eliminate. Logically he had to know there was no way Germany had a realistic chance at taking over the world. To Hitler all these things were logical. The decisions he made were based off emotion which he rationalized into logic.

 Birds, fish, and various mammals do not migrate out of need; they do so out of necessity. Geese don’t migrate south for the winter because they feel like it. Geese know they will not survive the winter if they felt like sticking around. They make the logical choice and fly south. Salmon do not have an urge to swim to the same location every year to mate and lay their eggs; they do so to continue their species. Humpback whales do not migrate to Alaska because they want to visit; they go there so they can eat. You get the idea.

 Humans on the other hand choose to stick around in places which prove to be destructive to them. If we look at all the impoverished, war consumed, starving people in third world countries. Logically they must know their chances of survival are not great, yet they stick around. I understand some may feel they do not have a choice to leave, but realistically there is always a choice. If our ancestors migrated to greener pastures so can these people.

I am sure if I were to do conduct studies of animals; I would find fallibility in their instinctual logic. The examples I gave clearly show; animals think in a more logical manner than humans. I would love to engage in some philosophical discussions on this topic.

I was outside yesterday watching a pair of geese across the street. I was admiring their simplistic beauty;  pondering on how they mate for life, and admiring  their dedication to one another. If their partner dies the other one will live out the rest of their lives alone. I explored this thought deeper and wondered why humans are incapable of such pure love and dedication to their partners. It is believed that we are the highest form of species on this planet, yet we are trumped in many areas by our animal brethren. What is it about humans which causes us to act like complete ass fucks towards the people we love? Did we lose this type of loyalty somewhere along our evolutionary road? Is it even possible for humankind to reach such stages of love and respect?

All species were designed with the primal urge to mate with the purpose of continuing the survival of their species. This is one of those things which is so deeply rooted in our DNA we are not even aware of it. As humans with evolved thought and complex emotions we experience this intense emotion called love. This emotion called love causes us to enter into something called relationships, which takes us beyond the urge to just fuck. If we look at the animal kingdom we see such examples of love towards one another. In fact these animals care so much for their partners they make the commitment to mate for life.

To my knowledge there are 12 species in the animal kingdom which make such a union with one another. I know there are more, but this is not a school paper so I am not going to spend the time researching it. This type of behavior seems to happen most with bird species; in fact over 90% of bird species are monogamous. This compared to the 3% of mammals which share the same commitment (humans are not in that 3%.) I just wonder what it is about birds that makes them such faithful lovers? What can we learn from our feathered friends?

Here is a list of the 12 animals I am aware of that live faithful lives.

  1. Gibbons: our closest relative and the only primate to practice monogamy.
  2. Swans: The image of two swans intertwining necks to form a heart is a famous symbol.
  3. Black Vultures: Being unfaithful is looked down upon by this animal. If a member is caught they will be attacked and sometimes killed. This is not just done by the mate, it is done by virtually complete strangers.
  4. French Angelfish
  5. Penguins
  6. Geese
  7. Albatross : These birds do not spend their lives together, they only come together once a year to mate. These birds travel immense grounds when they migrate, and without fail they will always find the same partner.
  8. Termites
  9. Turtle Doves
  10. Bald Eagles: Female’s will break this faithful bond only in death, and if the male becomes impotent.
  11. Wolves: The perfect example of a functional family structure
  12. Prairie Voles: This is a type of rodent who share life responsibilities evenly across the board.
  13. There is another fish, but I do not know the name. The male fish finds a mate and bites her. Once he bites her he becomes a part of his mate. He shares the same blood flow as the female. In time he transformed and essentially becomes an organ used only for sperm. Now that is sacrifice.

Is it love that causes these animals to be so faithful? Are animals even capable of such complex emotion? Is this behavior embedded into their DNA? These are questions which are worth deep thinking about. If the answer is that these creatures are capable of love, then what does that say about our ability to love? If the answer is that it is bred into their DNA, then why them?

I think the answer may be a little bit of everything. I think as people we can experience genuine love, but it is then perverted by greed and self-interest. I also think media plays a huge role in our acceptance of being unfaithful. Although we condemn such behavior; it is some how normal. Take the time to watch some movies or tv shows and see if you can see where this behavior is acceptable, or done without any portrayal of destroyed emotions.

If you are able to find it, and recognize it… then so shall our children.