What’s the difference between man and animal? The common answer is the ability to reason. The ways of man are so mystifying sometimes I wonder if men really have the ability to reason. Maybe per say animals can reason and men just can not? The ways of men have me perplexed and in a world of so much darkness there is little light to shed on the question. A look at the definitions of reason might help us answer that question.
1. Power of orderly thought: the power of being able to think in a logical and rational manner
2. Ability to think clearly: the ability to think clearly and coherently So I look at my dog, Ella as a case example. We got her from a kennel back in June. Upon bringing her home she was practically shell shocked and scared to even walk past the threshold of a door. Now months later she is the sweetest little creature in the world to Sarah and I. Towards others she won’t go near and practically shakes in fear. I wonder what causes this sweet innocent creature to tremble when approaching another man. Is it reason that has taught her or is something else? I suppose little Ella was abused in her early days, but with passing time she is learning that Sarah and I are safe, but the remnants of what man have done to her still shine through. So I suppose it is reason that taught her that man is not safe due to the past trauma she had been exposed to. Now she does posses the power with logic that Sarah and I are safe since we treat her with love and care, but to others she still is learning. Living in town, a walk through the streets of Montpelier can be a challenge. The noise, the people and the cars can be terrifying to her but then into Hubbard Park she becomes a different dog. In town she can not wait to get away, but transplant her into the park she is free and not a care to the world. The sounds of civilization are a distant past to her and all is safe. Today, while walking across a bridge on the North Branch River a little girl asked if she could pet Ella. I said “yes, you may but she is very shy so be gentle.” Not sure how Ella was going to react, I gently rolled up the leash and brought her closer to the girl. Gently the little girl stroked the side of Ella’s head. I could see Ella’s reservations but she patiently allowed the girl to pet her. A start, Ella had learned to trust me and beginning with this little girl she is starting to see that not all humans are bad. The natural innocence of a child bringing out the beauty of a peaceful and loving creature is a sight to see. I look forward to the day when Ella can respond to all others that way. To me Ella has reasoned that man is not good, she is a joy with other dogs. Four legs good, two legs bad must be her logic. Now to a recent human experience, the other day Sarah and I were interrupted by a woman while we were eating at Positive Pie 2. As of so many of my discussions the theme was with politics. It was obvious from the start that this woman was not of the same mindset as us but we still conversed. The topic began with global warming, since Sarah and I were discussing that Sean Hannity the political pundit from Fox was going to be vacationing in Vermont for Christmas. How appropriate that a commentary that indoctrinates the Republican Party’s agenda of denial will be in Vermont for the winter holiday when it is quite evident that winter is just not happening. This woman was so adamant against the reality of global warming it was alarming. Things progressed and the topic switched to her viewpoints on the war and the president. “I am tired on how the left is complaining…we should all stand up behind the President…it’s a embarrassment on how people are talking...our forefathers are rolling in their graves…these people are trying to kill us…” and my personal favorite statement from her was “I think we should institute the draft and require that all men join the army, so men can become men again.” Wow, now is that thought with reason? I do not think so. Logical and rational thought show that the President has lied to the country about the circumstances of war. It is evident he has broken constitutional and international law. The forefathers of the country were opposed to tyranny and rebelled against what they saw as unjust. George Washington stated that “Overgrown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty,” and that is what we have in hand today. As most of the world knows, Iraq was no threat to the United States. It is a country smaller than most states and had nothing to do with the 9/11 tragedy and contrary to presidential statements had no capabilities of engaging with weapons of mass destruction. Most of the terrorists came from Saudi Arabia, a country ruled by a vicious royal theocracy. Like Iraq, they are rich in oil reserves and the royal family has close ties and friendships to the Bush family. While the royal family lives in luxury the majority of the population is restricted from personal liberties. Due to the close relationship, the United States has provided the royal family with weaponry and other tools to control the population. If it were not for oil, the United States would not be in Iraq or in partnership with undemocratic and oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia. As for the draft, while officially the US military is composed of an all volunteer army, I state that in reality we have an economic draft. The majority of the military is composed of people from economically depressed areas of the country. The inner cities and rural America is where the promise of economic advancement is sparse, with the military they are given a chance to succeed. Recruitment is high for minorities and that is why Congressman Charles Rangel(D-NY) has called for reinstating the draft. I say go for it and reinstate the draft; let us see how much America really supports this war. I’m sure kids in the rich suburbs of America will come out in full opposition to the war. So while this woman wants to see the expansion of the draft, she fails to see the rationality of the effects of war. It has been proven that war is psychological dangerous on a man. There are some veterans from World War II that still will not talk about their experiences. (see Bill Moyers recent speech to West Point) There are veterans from Vietnam still suffering from post-traumatic-stress-syndrome and mental institutions are filled with them. Numbers of Iraq returnees are facing severe psychological conditions and there are high numbers of suicides. It is not logical to purposefully create a population of men that will suffer permanent results that can affect their lives and the safety of society. I listened to this woman with shock and disbelief that such irrational statements could come from anyone’s mouth. Does man have the power to reason? While some may be able to think in a logical and rational manner, there still remains a vast amount of people who do not. On the other hand it appears as if my dog has reasoned that man is not safe. Man is just an animal and it needs to be taught, just like Ella. We as a society must grow and teach others because people like her and those that abused my dog are out there. So, as I’ll continually teach my dog that most humans are safe, I hope that we as a society can reason the consequences of our action and grow towards a more civil, humane and peaceful existence. Peace
“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”Buddha