Archive for animals

He Likes Sunbathing

Posted in Rant/ Rave, real life with tags , , , , on September 5, 2017 by sethdellinger

Today, Boy and I went to the pool in our development for some late summer swimming. The water was freezing, but the company was terrific, and the sun was shining. After about half an hour we took a break and sat on a bench eating some snacks. Suddenly, something hit me in the chest with a thud. I was shocked and bewildered, and quickly realized it was in fact the largest fly I have ever seen. I guess it is what they call a horsefly, although I have no idea what it scientifically is called. This fly, which after running right into my chest circled around Boy and I for a few minutes, was, hands down, one of the largest insects I have ever seen. It landed on us occasionally, and I swear it was the size of a small rodent. When it landed on you, it had true heft, you could feel its weight on you. I won’t deny being a little creeped out, and I did continually wave it away from me, but naturally, the thought of ending this thing’s life never crossed my mind. Why in the world would it?

After a few minutes of this fly circling around us, it became evident that we were not the first people at the pool to have noticed it, and now a lot of eyes were trained on us, watching us deal with it. A few minutes after it encountered us, it landed on the concrete sidewalk about ten feet away from us. One of the local girls who was also at the pool, probably about ten years old, sat a few feet away from it, staring at it in disgust. She held in one of her hands a flip-flop. She looked at me, assuming that I would be in league with her on this, and she said to me, I hate flies, and she inched toward it raising the flip flop. I said in a calm tone, It’s not hurting anything, leave it alone. What I said must not have registered very much, as it is an unusual stance about insects so it usually washes over people at first. She continued to advance on it and raised the flip flop higher and repeated her statement, I hate flies. Before she got any further I said in a sharper, more urgent tone, It’s not going to hurt you. Please don’t kill it. 

Before I tell any more of this story, I think it is important to note that I am in no way telling this story to get kudos for saving this fly’s life. Asking people around us not to senselessly kill animals who are minding their own business is, in my opinion, the very least we can do, and is not something we deserve kudos for but is in fact a moral obligation. That being said, I will continue the story.

The interesting thing is that when I pleaded for her to not kill it, you could see some sort of flash of recognition across her face. It is probably likely that in her life she had never heard anyone plead for the life of an insect. And although she was about ten years old, which in the grand scheme of how we form our worldview is actually rather old, she is still young enough that simple truths like that can penetrate in ways that the psyches of older people don’t allow. A second after I pleaded for the insect’s life, and the flash of recognition happened to her, she looked at me and gave a little smile, looked back at the fly, and almost seemed to look at it with affection. After a few more seconds, she looked at me and said, He’s sunbathing! He likes sunning, doesn’t he? I said, he probably does.

Boy–who of course is no stranger to this rhetoric and is fully on the “don’t kill insects” team–none-the-less wasn’t so sure about my authority on this particular issue. “How you know it likes suntanning?” He asked me. I don’t, I said. But I bet it does, most people do. And then, looking at the girl again, I said, But one thing I do know is, it doesn’t want to die. Nothing wants to die.

The girl walked away, and over the next few minutes I heard snippets of her conversation with her friends, and she kept saying, The fly like suntanning, the fly likes sunning.  Kids are so receptive to these simple ideas, which almost certainly means they are universal truths that we are born with and culture shoos us away from.

The argument I always come back to in any sort of discussion about veganism, animal liberation, animal rights, etc etc, is that things don’t want to die. People can talk about humane conditions or slaughter, humans being natural carnivores, or even justify eating certain creatures of the sea because they lack certain elements of a nervous system, but sentient beings don’t want to die. Things want to live. Even insects. Even worms. Animals want to live.

Dance

Posted in Memoir, My Poetry with tags , , , , on September 3, 2017 by sethdellinger

In all these tiny useless shops, with all this
torn and tattered furniture and too-small coats and
half-working vacuum cleaners, I have never come across
a velvety orangeish curtain like the one we hung
in the living room on Big Spring Avenue; it was
wide and garish like a Lady Pope’s vestments
and it kept the heat from pouring down between the
hardwood floor slats into the musty dirt basement;
likewise, in none of these big city shops have I ever
danced around with a cocker spaniel like I did
with ours–Cocoa–one bright Saturday morning
when I was all alone with her.  I did the funny dance I
only ever did with Cocoa, one hand in my armpit,
jumping on one foot, the sound of my skin half-drum,
half-fart, the world at last and for a moment a perfect
sun-filled room, a dappled meadow, Cocoa just
staring with all-black eyes, shimmying just to
get out of my way, me whirling and singing a song
I can’t recall, then laughing and laughing in the
sun beaming through the windows, falling down
with her, as if we were dying, as if we could
never stop–in 1984, in Newville Pennsylvania–
beautiful strange small-town Newville,
home of Laughlin Mill and the Bulldogs–
a hundred miles and thirty years away from
this dingy city thrift store I stand in, remembering
the orangey curtain and the drafty floors and the
sweet temperamental dog so confused with her
round voids of eyes, she’s gone now, so gone even
her dust is gone, oh giant universe, oh wild universe!

Valentine’s Dog Dagurreotype

Posted in real life with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2017 by sethdellinger
  1.  I know A LOT of people who hate Valentines Day, so it seems.  And every year, most of them feel a need to unleash an anti-V-Day screed of some kind via social media (almost always involving the word “Hallmark”, “corporate”, or “made-up”.  And hey, I get it.  In fact, I essentially ignore almost all holidays, and I’m quite fortunate that my life partner feels the same.  We don’t really hate any holidays, we just don’t really notice them (with a few exceptions).  But what I’m wondering right now, as I continue to see these same people with these same rants about these same holidays year after year after year…why not just ignore it?  Let it pass with zero comment from you.  There is little more that a holiday hates than a complete lack of attention from you, whatever holiday it happens to be that you hate.  Just a suggestion, of course.  Certainly I have lots I like to bitch about, too, but it just seems to me like bitching about a holiday is some wasted bitching.
  2. I sure love my dog.  Who doesn’t love dogs?? But I feel a very special way about Benji because I’ve been lucky enough to be brought into his life late.  Benji is 15, which is nearing the absolute oldest he can get for his breed (at the absolute most, he might live two more years but that is unlikely).  I spent almost all of my adult life wishing I could have a dog; almost all of that time, I lived alone and worked jobs with long and erratic hours and was hesitant to own a dog under those circumstances.  But, once I found my love Karla, she came not only with Boy, but with Dog, and my time with Benji has been very special.  Now, he is not without his quirks (a truly obsessive-compulsive licking thing that can literally coat an entire couch if no one is watching) but in just about every way, I could not love him more.  I’m sad that I don’t get more years with him, but the time I do have fills my heart.  Almost anyone who has a dog says “They are part of the family”, and never has anyone meant it more than we do.
  3. Here is the earliest known photograph (actually it’s a daguerreotype) taken in the city of Harrisburg.  It is from freakin’ 1860!:
    img_20170214_181755

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 23, 2017 by sethdellinger

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Have Yourself a Melancholy Christmas

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 24, 2016 by sethdellinger

For many years, I have posted the below clip of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to social media around the holidays.  It is far and away my favorite Christmas song.  For the decade-plus that I spent living and mostly being alone, the melancholy twinned with optimism in the song struck a special chord within me.  The song seemed to harken to a nostalgia of lovely, warm, joyous holidays, while acknowledging the fundamental hardship of life–of being alone, of losing track of people, or long, dark, cold winter days and memories that slide through your fingers (please note I refer here solely to the original lyrics made famous in this Judy Garland version, not the bastardized, senselessly happy remakes to come after it).  Today, I played it in the background while passing a lovely lazy day with Karla and I immediately began to choke up; the song was a companion in melancholy with me for so many years, the tears came like a Pavlovian response.  Of course, life is happy beyond my wildest dreams, exquisitely so–but that doesn’t necessarily mean the end of melancholy.  My love, the boy, and our dog make life glorious–but there are still long, dark, cold winter days, and friends I’ve lost touch with, and memories that slide through our fingers like the water in the swimming pool on Parsonage Street when my sister saved me from drowning when I was six years old.  Someday soon, we all will be together–if the fates allow.  Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow.

Merry Christmas everybody!  Life truly is grand–melancholy is the proof of it!

Why I’m Vegan

Posted in Rant/ Rave, real life with tags , , , on October 30, 2016 by sethdellinger

As most of you know, I became a vegan about four months ago (and before that, a vegetarian about a year and a half ago).  This development has caused no small amount of friction between myself and some friends and loved ones, mostly due to the fact that I’ve become not only a vegan, but a vegan of the outspoken/ activist variety.  This upsets people.  I understand that.  I figured it was time I detail the philosophy for you a little bit.

Here is really where the rubber meets the road, where the rest of the philosophy comes from, and why you feel I am attacking you:

It is my firm and passionate belief that all animals on Earth are deserving of equal moral consideration.  This runs contrary to how even the most compassionate non-vegans in our culture think.  We are raised to believe that, in some way–a way that usually rests just a shade outside our ability to explain–humans exist above animals, in moral or ethical importance.  You may have said at some point in your life, “I’m sad that animals got hurt, but at least no human lives were lost“, or “Of course animal rights matter, but there are human issues that are more pressing.”  I understand why you think that way; I did too most of my life.  Our society (and in fact, most societies) raise you to think that way.  We call this way of thinking speciesism.  Frankly, I don’t love the term.  It begs to be mocked and is, perhaps, a little too precious.  But that’s the term we use and it IS accurate. (also I’ve thought about it quite a bit and can’t actually come up with a better term).  Why is it that you think humans are more important than animals?  REALLY.  WHY IS IT THAT YOU THINK THAT?

There are, of course, many reasons that get put forth to justify putting humans above animals, which I won’t take time to detail here.  Suffice it to say we find those reasons to be poppycock.  Animals feel pain and suffering, and above all, are simply not ours to own, control, kill, or consume.  They are their own.

Having established a moral compass wherein all animals are weighted the same, eating animals, or imprisoning or torturing them, is the exact equivalent to eating or torturing humans.  It bears the exact same moral weight.  Which is why it is not a “diet” and why I will not acknowledge your right to do it as “your choice”.

Picturing a world where all animals are due the same consideration, imagine now a farm.  The manner in which cows, pigs, chickens, et al–who have done nothing wrong whatsoever–are imprisoned, given a horrible, painful, short life and are then butchered: this is like we are doing it to humans.  Factory farms do this on a massive level; hundreds of thousands of PEOPLE are, at any moment, wrongfully imprisoned and murdered.

Yes, we call them people.  It serves to rip further the veil we are all under, this false assumption that because animals are different from us that they are less-than, that we control and own them, that their lives are ours to take, and their suffering meaningless.  These are our ethical equals, these are people, and what we are doing is nothing less than a holocaust.

So yes, you may think it’s silly when we call them people, or when we talk about SLAVEHOLDERS, but the moral equivalency is very real.  The problem is one of urgency for the poor, doomed, imperiled people currently imprisoned all over the world.  And you want me to be silent?  You think I should “accept your choice”?  I would no sooner silently assent to you eating a human limb.  I would no sooner be quiet about American police murdering black people.  I would no sooner be silent about LGBTQ Americans not having equal rights.  I like to think, given a chance to go back in time, I could not have been silent about the Holocaust of the second world war.  I cannot and will not be silent about this holocaust.  Animal rights are human rights.

You feel personally attacked when I post a vegan meme to Facebook; I get it.  You feel judged.  I assure you I am not thinking about you specifically when I spread the message: how you feel about what you read and see is between you and the animals.  But when you engage me on the topic, I can not and will not be soft.  How could I?  Look at what is at stake!

Many in the vegan community also think we should pull back.  They say being in peoples’ faces turns them even more off of vegans and lessens our chances of growing the movement.  Except: every successful social change movement in history disagrees with you.  Stop being cowards (and suggesting I be a coward too!)–if these WERE humans being farmed, would you suggest the best way to stop it is posting “vegan gym selfies” (Look, I get plenty of protein, eat vegan!) and pinning recipes on Pinterest?  I refuse to treat animal liberation like some delicate flower because people might feel a certain way about it.  I IMPLORE THEM TO FEEL A CERTAIN WAY.

The best way to make large, lasting change is to cause friction with the status quo.  It is our goal to hold up to people the true vision of the world: the idea that what we are doing to animals is a needless atrocity.  Some “soft activism” is good, too (gym selfies, Pinterest recipes), but it’s not enough.

The world needed Martin Luther King, but it also needed Malcom X.

Why I Haven’t Eaten Meat in a Month

Posted in Snippet with tags , , , , on May 21, 2015 by sethdellinger

I’m finding that when one becomes a vegetarian, it’s fairly tempting to not tell anyone at all.  Few things in my life have encountered such unexpected pushback.  It seems like saying I’m a vegetarian somehow sounds to most people like you are saying I’ve decided that you shouldn’t eat meat either.  People get really pissed just because *I” have decided not to eat meat.

But it also seems a tad unlike me to let such a monumental decision pass by unmentioned or unexplored.  I have no intention of proselytizing on the topic, but I refuse to act like it’s not a part of me–no matter how sensitive it might make you feel.

Now for the elephant in the room: my girlfriend (she’s a lot more to me than that word implies, but she’s not my wife, so our culture doesn’t provide us with an ample word for our relationship. ‘Partner’ is nice but comes with its own baggage) Karla is an extremely passionate vegetarian.  A big part of my hesitancy to announce myself as vegetarian are the inevitable insinuations that I was simply doing it because she somehow badgered me into it or that I was in some way forced into it.  I assure you nothing could be further from the truth.  Firstly, Karla is not that sort of woman, and secondly, I am not that sort of man.  Karla made it clear from the start that this was something that was extremely important to her, but that she would never actually ask me to do it.

With that being said, being around someone who feels so passionate about something so often can make issues become your own issues.  As I said, I won’t go on too long about it.  I’m still very new to the scene but obviously there are many, many ins-and-outs and things to be known and whatnot–mainly the horrors of factory farming and our nation’s broken foodborne illness codes.  But it boils down to very basic things for me:

1.  I don’t want to hurt things (people like to argue with this but, again, I’m not asking you to not eat meat, so really, no need for debate here).

2.  The idea that I’m eating the flesh of a dead creature now seems to me a little weird, a little gross, and maybe even a little barbaric.

3.  The last dozen times I’ve been sick I am fairly certain can be attributed to meat.

4.  Meat tastes pretty good, but really.  C’mon.  Lots of other stuff is good too.  You’d be surprised how easy it is to live without it.

So.  There ya go.  I’m a vegetarian now.

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