Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Hunters and the Hunted

Sorry about these long delays between posts again. That's the trouble with being ill, then being on vacation and then my son being on vacation from school. I don't get a lot of time to write. Oh, and then I'm also giving a few talks these days and writing some articles for some local papers. All this to say, I'll try to do better, dear Reader.

As you may have noticed, there was a comment on the most recent posting asking me what I felt about hunters. Now while it is possible that this comment was asked with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I still like it.

What do I feel about hunters?

Great question. I could lamely say that some of my good friends are hunters, but that doesn't really tell you much. Oh, aside - I have a really good friend who used to live fairly close to my family, and he loves to hunt. But he also has high blood pressure and other assorted illness-like things, so he can't enjoy the meat as much as he would prefer. So, being the good friend he is, he used to give much of it to me. I think it was a combination of wanting to give me a gift, as well as seeing how I would prepare the food stuffs. For those of you who don't know, I love to cook weird and wonderful meals. (Just ask my son.) Anyways, my friend (whose name is Ted, but don't tell him I told you) used to drop off all sorts of odd meat bits, from such animals as geese (which he knew I loved), ducks (which tried to mate with said geese and hence ended up on my plate), deer (which I also love), moose (which I learned to enjoy) and many fish. (It's kind of disturbing to come home to a dead fish on your doorstep, but we kind of knew where it came from.)

Anyways, all this is just to say that I have nothing against hunters per se. (Idiots with guns, on the other hand...)

But seeing as this about the Baha'i Faith, let me begin with a quote from 'Abdu'l-Baha, in which He responds to someone who "didst express astonishment at some of the laws of God, such as that concerning the hunting of innocent animals, creatures who are guilty of no wrong." He says, "...Reflect upon the inner realities of the universe, the secret wisdoms involved, the enigmas, the inter-relationships, the rules that govern all. For every part of the universe is connected with every other part by ties that are very powerful and admit of no imbalance, nor any slackening whatever. In the physical realm of creation, all things are eaters and eaten: the plant drinketh in the mineral, the animal doth crop and swallow down the plant, man doth feed upon the animal, and the mineral devoureth the body of man. Physical bodies are transferred past one barrier after another, from one life to another, and all things are subject to transformation and change, save only the essence of existence itself -- since it is constant and immutable, and upon it is founded the life of every species and kind, of every contingent reality throughout the whole of creation."

There's quite a bit in there, and I won't bother to try and re-state what He has already said. Instead I will just point out that this excerpt needs to be seen with some other quotes about the treatment of animals, as well as those that speak to the desirability of becoming a vegetarian. Simply put, we should treat animals with kindness; strive to eat a diet of mainly fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains; and live a simple life. (I'm sure you can find all the corresponding quotes that go with all of that.)

Instead, what I'd like to talk about here is a bit about the concept of being a hunter. What does it mean to be a hunter? In the dictionary, the first definition may be referring specifically to someone who hunts animals for food or sport, but the second one is "a person who searches for or seeks something".

To me, there is a difference between a hunter and an idiot with a gun. A big difference.

In the morning, when I get up and am getting dressed, looking through my drawers for a pair of socks that actually match, then I am, by definition, a hunter. When I am searching through the Writings looking for that elusive quote that I just know I read "somewhere in the Writings", then I am, by definition, a hunter.

There is, in my own opinion (insert my standard disclaimer here, if you will), nothing wrong with being a hunter. The problem lies with our need to develop our compassion and live more in accord with the world around us. (It also has to do with detachment when I can't find that matching sock, but that's another story.)

It also has to do with understanding our position in the world.

I, for one, do not believe that being "master of the world" means that we can do whatever we want. When we were told in Genesis to "subdue the earth", I do not think that meant that we can abuse it. I believe that it means we should treat it with the utmost respect and try, within the bounds of reason and moderation, to eke a living out of it.

And that, to me, sort of sums it up. I have nothing against hunters, for we all, at some time in our lives, hunt for something. But, as it sas in the Writings, we should take care against exceeding the bounds of moderation, for that always becomes a bad thing, and we should also take care that our stomachs do not become morgues. (That's a fairly gross thought, but conveys it so well.)

We should do what we can to try and live in accordance to those "ties that are very powerful and admit of no imbalance".

Oh, and if you ever have any foodstuffs that you don't want, or can't use, please feel free to leave them on my doorstep. Just try and let me know ahead of time, if you will.

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