"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Friday, March 23, 2012

living with respect for all animals

i have always been consistently and fervently pro-fauna. i'm not sure where this way of thinking and acting originated, but i've always tried to do my best not to harm other beings by my own existence. maybe it was learning about Native American and indigenous peoples and their practices of hunting, a way of life lost on us now, a way of honoring and respecting animals while still occasionally eating them (which is how i still justify eating meat on occasion - my understanding of being a "good" human is eating what i need, not being wasteful, and not consuming in excess. i definitely don't hunt for sport, and when i fish, i practice catch-and-release. i also limit or avoid pork, beef, and even chicken (those being the more "feeling" or sentient animals), sticking mostly to fish that i know are fresh water varieties that i could have fished myself, or that were farmed. of course, farm fisheries may have a host of their own ethical problems, but they seem far less terrible than the wide-cast nets they use to catch deep sea shrimp and bycatch. this is also how i justify wearing leather shoes and buying leather bags - because Native American tribes used "the whole" animal and didn't let anything go to waste. also, because leather shoes last longer and are probably better for the environment in the long-run than PVC/plastic shoes that come with cancer warnings and carry shorter use-lives). of course, if animals were hunted rather than "cultivated" in factories, the way they are now, i don't think i'd really have to make this justification. basically, i emulate a way of life that is pre-industrial and pre-modern convenience, the way i imagine life might have been like before we determined a way to industrialize everything, before humans became insane cancers on the environment and decided we owned everything. what might that be called, "transcendental-aspirational"? "a-world-without-humans ecological philosophy"? so, when i say i'm "pro-fauna," that's shorthand for me saying that i aspire to live in a way that respects animals and nature in a non-human-centered way.

so, i'm seriously stressed out right now because my workplace has discovered we have a mice problem, in that they are finding their way into drawers of people's desks and eating food. i was visited by some mice myself, i opened up my drawer and noticed some droppings and when i started cleaning out my drawer, discovered that a pack of flaxseed crackers in a thin plastic wrapper were broken into. clever buggers! i tossed the crackers and put everything else in plastic boxes, and haven't had a problem since. others in the office were so freaked out though, that they set up traps. a few hours later, people in the office were squealing and screaming at the sight of mice. here's what really bothers me about this:

1) these traps are possibly the worst thing ever. they're the sticky film traps, the kind you might use to trap flies, only this time, it's little furry mice, with tails, and whiskers. they get stuck on the film in the most helpless positions, their whiskers glued down, their bodies bent in unnatural positions, their tails whipping around, their paws stuck under their bellies. they squirm and blink for help. and everytime i go to check on them, my stomach fills with guilt and dread, because i feel like it's partially my fault, i irresponsibly stored my snacks andthey invited themselves to a small meal, and now they're suffering in the most terrible ways.

2) mice are very easily and humanely preventable. if you store food more securely (glass jars, plastic storage boxes with high sides and slippery surfaces) and dispose of food properly, you won't have a mice problem. also, peppermint oil is a nice-smelling, easily available, cheap, and harmless alternative to traps. there are also catch-and-release style traps that allow mice to be transported to more mice-friendly places (there is a large field right behind our office building - if they were released there and people got rid of their poorly stored snacks, we wouldn't have a problem).

3) "every animal serves a purpose." my co-worker and cubicle neighbor said that when we were talking and i thought that was really wise and something very few people realize or think about. mice eat the crumbs and tiny scraps that drop behind the desk in those little crevices that are too small to be cleaned, or easily forgotten. they don't actively go after your food unless you aren't smart enough to seal or protect it better. mice would never hurt you or bite you, because they are far more scared of you than you are of them. this idea that "every animal serves a purpose" is important because it gets at the reason why i adopt a "pro-fauna" approach, and also why this sometimes results in an "anti-human" way of thinking: so few humans realize the importance of coexisting with animals. furthermore, this is in direct correlation a direct cause of most humans' belief that they own everything. "it's our office building/kitchen/pantry/food so we have a right to kill creatures that intrude into our space!" actually, the field/forest/farmland that was destroyed so you could build your office building/condo/neighbhorhood was here first, so the animals you displaced kinda have a right to mess up your comfortable little existence if they can, so suck it.

all this to say i am really stressed out from debating what to do about the mice traps in the office (should i free the mice? what if i mangle them when trying to get them free from the sticky paper? should i sabotage the traps or try to throw them away before mice get caught in them and thereby cause my company to endlessly pour resources into traps? should i try to kill the mice humanely, before HR or whoever comes by to collect the traps and just "throw them away" to die slow deaths? should i start setting human traps in retaliation? - debilitating laxative in the coffee pot was my first inclination, but i'm open to suggestions). i still want to live my life in a "pro-fauna" way, but it means, in this case, talking to a lot of stubbornly cruel and human-centric people.

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