Do Animals Have Souls? Part Two

  • Kitten roasted alive in oven
  • Kittens with mouths glued shut
  • Ailing 17-year-old cat abandoned by owners
  • Cat beaten to death with a pole and video shown on  internet
  • Starving greyhound found tied to a pole
  • Young, inexperienced  pit bulls used as bait dogs to teach older pits to fight
  • Dog with half his face chopped off
  • Chihuahua burned in public park by teenage boys
  • Pony with overgrown hooves so long he cannot walk
  • Rabbits, cats, dogs, monkeys used for medical research and product testing
  • Elephant kept chained more than 20 years in a roadside zoo
  • Orcas kept in captivity in sea parks to entertain humans
  • Chickens raised in factory farm cages, never seeing the sun

These are a few of the things people do daily to animals around the world.

I could have made this list a lot longer.

Some would say all the things on the list are animal abuse. Some would not, arguing that people have the right to use animals for medical research that will benefit humans, that we need to raise chickens in factory conditions so we can eat their flesh and eggs, that elephants and orcas enjoy performing for humans, that pitbulls are born fighters, that the owner of the pony with overgrown hooves was perhaps growing senile or just didn’t know any better.

Some might even say the most horrific abuse examples on this list are okay, because God gave man dominion over the animals to do with as he wished, and therefore animals don’t have the intelligence, awareness, and feelings that we do.

These people all have one thing in common:

Obviously they do not think animals have souls.

I used to be like them.  I hated to see outright animal cruelty, but I didn’t think using animals for testing or slaughtering them for food was anything to object to. Over time, my thinking evolved, as readers of my earlier post Do Animals Have Souls? Part One already know.

My thinking evolved because of all the companion animals who have shared my life, and because I have seen and heard about countless examples of animal intelligence, emotion, and bonding among animals and between animals and their humans.

My newspaper today carried an especially poignant story of a mother animal feeling grief:

A female orca whale in a pod roaming the Pacific Ocean between Vancouver, B.C. and San Juan Island gave birth to a calf that was the first live birth in the pod since 2015. This calf lived only about half an hour. For 17 days the mother orca carried her dead calf with her “in an unprecedented act of mourning,” according to whale researchers following the pod.

The mother would balance the baby on her head or push it along with her nose, and retrieved it each time it began to sink in the water. This made it difficult for the mother to keep up with her pod, but she would not let her baby go. Finally after 17 days she did release the dead calf to sink in the ocean.

At this point it is appropriate to recall the wisdom of Charles Darwin:

There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel  pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.  

Charles Darwin

How could anyone seeing this whale mother’s behavior deny she was grieving her dead baby, just as a human mother would?

How could anyone witnessing a tortured animal howling in pain or a victim of past torture huddling and trembling in a corner deny that animals suffer physically and psychologically from ill treatment, just as humans do?

I’m  with Charles Darwin. Animals and humans have too much in common for animals to be treated as commodities or objects of neglect and abuse.  All humans and all animals deserve respect.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. If you like it, follow this post and you’ll receive notice of  my new ones.

 

Joy and Peace,

Marjorie Beck

 

 

 

 

Introversion: The Third Leg of My Three-Legged Stool

It is high time I finished the third leg of my three-legged stool. I wrote about the first leg, Depression (“What’s With That Blog Title?”) on May 9; I wrote about the second leg, Shyness and Anxiety (“My Three Legged Stool”) on June 1. I intended to finish the job long before now. Life intervened.

With apologies to my many followers waiting with bated breath for the completion of my stool:

The third leg of my stool is Introversion. Here’s what I wrote on May 9:

“Depression, shyness, and anxiety are disabilities to be managed. Introversion is not a disability; it is an innate part of  who I am and is to be understood and embraced.” 

I use the term Introversion as the psychiatrist Karl Jung (1875-1961) defined it in his seminal work Psychological Types (1921).  He identified three innate aspects of everyone’s personality:

  • How you get your energy for living (Introversion, Extraversion)
  • How you take in information (Sensing, Intuition)
  • How you make decisions (Thinking, Feeling)

In the 1940s, two followers of Jung, Katherine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers, identified a fourth aspect of personality:

  • How you relate to the world (Judging, Perceiving)

They developed an instrument called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to help people identify their innate psychological types. Today the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the most commonly used and best regarded psychological instruments in the world.

I am going to cover here only the first aspect Jung identified, Introversion and Extraversion, because that is the third leg of my stool.

Introversion does not mean you are shy; Extraversion does not mean you are outgoing. There are shy Extroverts and outgoing Introverts.

As Jung, Briggs, and Myers identified Introversion and Extraversion, they are two different ways (or preferences) of getting your life’s energy. You are born with these preferences. They are both good ways of being. You do not change your basic preferences, but you can, at least to some extent, change behaviors associated with them.

Simply put:

Extraverts draw their energy from engaging with other people and their environment.

Introverts draw their energy from within themselves.

To identify which preference you have, you could ask yourself:

If you are stressed from a hard day, would you rather:

  1. Go out and unwind with friends,                          OR
  2. Go home to enjoy a quiet evening by yourself.

Here’s another situation you may find yourself in:

You are at a large party, and you know only a few of the people there. Would you probably:

  1. Circulate around the room to meet and talk with new people,      OR
  2. Stay close to the people you know and talk with them.

If you are an Extravert, you probably would pick the first answer to both questions. If you are an Introvert, you would probably choose the second answer.

I say “probably” because for some people those choices might be reversed. Remember, there are shy Extraverts and outgoing Introverts.

I am a shy Introvert. I get my energy from within myself, and in social situations I’m  more comfortable with people I know than with strangers.

Introversion and Extraversion can even be detected in how we move our bodies.

Extraverts, drawing their energy from the people and environment around them,  tend to move more than Introverts, who draw their energy from within. Extroverts may tap a foot or drum fingers while sitting, or shift position frequently, or get up and stretch or move around the room. as if they are extending little feelers out to their surroundings.

Introverts usually sit more quietly and for longer periods and without as much body movement. Introverts also may smile less than Extroverts.

In the same vein, Extraverts tend to listen more expressively than Introverts. An Extravert listening to someone might lean forward, smile, give head nods, say “I see,” or give other facial or body signals that he or she is reacting to the speaker and giving reaction back.

An Introvert may do little or none of that, leaving the speaker wondering what the hell the listener is thinking.

Being introverted, I tend to be a stone-faced listener. That can be a problem with people who don’t know me, and was, early in my city government career.

My boss was the city manager, and I had a lot of contact with the seven city councilors. I had cordial relationships with most of the councilors, but there was one, a very extroverted woman, who did not like me at all. The city manager, who understood me very well, took me aside one day and did me the wonderful favor of explaining the reason for her dislike.

It was my stone-faced listening. She would talk to me and I would sit there giving her no visible reaction, which she interpreted as hostility to her and her ideas. (Truth was, being such an  extroverted, dominant personality, she intimidated me. And when I’m intimidated, I do shut down.)

So from then on, when I talked with that councilor, I gave her lots of listening cues. I leaned toward her, I nodded, I said “uh-huh,” and “oh, I see.” Things gradually improved between us. Later, when I ended up working on a project for her that especially called on my skill set, she and I became friends.

I will always be grateful for my boss’s intervention early in my career on an aspect of  introverted behavior I needed to change. It was some of the best coaching I got.

Afterward I took great care to develop my physical listening skills with my colleagues and friends, and I am much the better for it. In time, active extroverted listening became second nature to me, and many of the people who worked with and for me told me I had superb listening skills.

So this is an illustration that your preference doesn’t change, but your behavior can. I was and will always be an Introvert, getting my energy from within me. But I can change introverted behavior when it’s not working for me.

Toward the end of my city career I took training to qualify as an administrator and interpreter of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I had learned so much about myself by taking the MBTI I wanted to learn more about type theory and share its insights with other people.

After I completed qualification, I conducted group interpretations at work to help people identify their types, and these sessions were always well received. There were always a few sceptics who resisted being “labeled,” but most participants felt as I had when I took the Indicator, that the MBTI helped them understand and appreciate why they were the way they were, how it was okay to be the way they were, and how it was okay for other people to be different.

I also did individual interpretations on request. Most of these individual sessions sparked great conversation on the fascinating differences in human behavior.

But one of them showed me what it must have been like to be that city councilor so long ago talking to me.

This was a person I didn’t work with directly but knew pretty well. He was eager to take the MBTI.  His results showed a strong preference for Introversion. He was also a cop, and  cops of course are trained to not show their emotions.

So there we were in my little office, and I was reviewing his MBTI results with him, and he was sitting there in absolute silence with absolutely no expression on his face. I couldn’t tell whether he found what I was saying incredibly insightful and helpful to him or the biggest bunch of crap he had ever heard.

Remembering the great favor my city manager did for me, I felt I owed him the same. I explained carefully and a little nervously (because again, his silence intimidated me) that he wasn’t giving me any reaction, either verbal or nonverbal, to what he was hearing. I said that was a good reaction for a cop, but not so good outside a cop situation where we were discussing something meant to benefit him as a person. Showing some reaction would be appropriate.

That opened him up–a little. After all, he was a cop. And it turned out he did like what he heard about his personality type. So it was a good outcome for both of us.

Okay, back to my Introversion.

Growing up, I knew nothing about Introversion or Extraversion or where I got my energy. I knew nothing about depression. I did know I was shy and anxious, and that wasn’t a good thing. I knew I liked to be alone a lot, and I thought that  was a good thing. I still do. But now I understand that I do better if I’m not alone too much, as I was too often in the past. Some of my worst bouts of depression came when I lived alone. I’m living with a partner now, and I need that.

Learning about my psychological type also helped me understand why I had difficult relationships with my parents when I was growing up. My mother and father were Extraverts; my older sister and I were Introverts. My mother and I clashed a lot over privacy: As an Introvert I wanted lots of it,and as an Extravert and a mother she felt she had the right to know everything about me. There was a lot of drawer snooping and diary reading that led to anger and raised voices. As we both grew older, we learned to accept each other’s differences.

My final words on Introversion and Extraversion are that you are born with one or the other, and they are both good ways to be. The more you learn about these two ways of getting your life energy, the more you are able to embrace the strengths of your own preference and understand how you are different from people who have the opposite, equally good preference.

I was not able to embrace the strengths of my Introversion when I was younger because it was so pathologically entangled with my depression and shyness. Now that I understand my depression and shyness, I love being an Introvert. For me, it’s the only way to be.

 

Thank you for reading this post. If you like what you read, you can follow my blog and get notification when I do a new post.

Marjorie Beck

 

 

Why I Hate China

I’ve lived in Lane County, Oregon for 44 years, far longer than I lived anywhere else, and I’ve lived in its county seat Eugene for 26 years. Since the 1970s, Oregon has been known as a “progressive” state, and Eugene has been known as an even more “progressive” city. The last Hippie Refuge, some call it. If it’s good for the environment, we Eugeneans latch on to it.

Thus you probably would not be surprised to learn that Eugeneans have been recyclers since forever, and that Lane County has been promoting recycling since almost forever. In Eugene, we had curbside comingled recycling for just about everything–paper, glass, metal, plastic. The only restriction was it had to be clean when it went in the bin. It was recycle heaven.

I say “we had” and “It was” because there is now a big exception to our recycling options: Plastic. 

It seems China has been our market for plastic recycling, and China has gotten sick and tired of all the dirty, food-contaminated plastic we’ve been sending them. So they’ve stopped accepting most of it.

This applies not just to Eugene and Lane County, but nationwide. Now we in Eugene and Lane County have to throw almost all our plastic bottles and tubs and whatnot in the garbage, which goes to the landfill, which takes up more room on this poor old tired planet and leaches all kinds of nastiness into our groundwater. Every time I throw a plastic yogurt tub in the trash I feel like an earth murderer.

Actually, I’m not mad at China for this. (Although, given our quasi-adversarial history with China, could it be a kind of environmental warfare, the newest development after cyber hacking?) But giving China the benefit of the doubt, I don’t blame them for not accepting our dirty smelly plastics; I blame the lazy slobs in the U.S. who can’t be bothered to follow directions and clean out their ketchup and mustard jars.

Apologies, China. I don’t really hate you. But I sure wish you’d start accepting our plastics again.

 

Thanks for reading my blog. If you like my posts, follow me and you’ll get notices of new ones.

Marjorie Beck

 

Some Post-Father’s Day Thoughts About My Father

Before June ends, I’d like to write about my father. This will be a long post.

I didn’t think much of my father when I was growing up. I wanted a strong father, and he was a weak one. I considered him weak because my mother was always the dominant parent. I considered him uncultured because, even though he was a college graduate, he sounded like an uneducated hick to me with his “them old boys” and other such countryisms.

I didn’t find him particularly handsome;  I thought he looked like Dagwood, minus the hair shocks. Also like Dagwood, he fell asleep easily and a lot. I was mostly ashamed of him.

Here’s some truth I’ve since learned about my father.

He was an alcoholic, although he was not drinking by the time I came along. He did not drink while he courted my mother, so she did not know she was marrying an alcoholic. She found out quickly after they were married when my father would go on week-end benders with friends from work. Since I never saw my father drinking, I did not know about his alcoholism until my mother explained, long after he died, what their marriage was like while he was drinking. That made me understood a little better why she was the strong one in the family.,

My father was born in Oklahoma, but his father’s people came from Tennessee. His grandfather had fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War. His mother was virulently racist. So my father inherited the usual southern baggage of racism and white privilege. He used the N-word. I wasn’t bothered much by that then because there was a lot of racism in Oklahoma, and I heard the N-word a lot. But I never heard him say it with malice, and I never heard him speak unkindly to black people, or for that matter, to anyone.

He was, in fact, a gentle, caring man. He loved my mother and my sister and me dearly, but I did not see or appreciate that at the time. He spanked me a few times for transgressions, but only because my mother made him do it, and I could tell his heart was not in it.

As a child, I saw how he cried when our cocker spaniel Lucky died. Much later, in 1968,  my ex-husband and I eloped to get married after completing our masters degrees in English at the University of Oklahoma. I was 24; he was 25. My mother was with my older sister at that time, helping after the birth of my sister’s second daughter. My father was at home. I called my mother first to tell her I was married, and you would have thought I had said I just robbed a bank and killed the tellers. She chewed me out royally.

I then called my father at home, half-expecting more of the same. His first words were “Well, bless your heart.” I almost cried. I wanted to kiss him for that kindness. My mother’s love was conditional; my father’s was unlimited.

He had a fine mind. He was an avid reader. As a geologist, he knew and taught us about  rocks.  Hearing his down-home speech as a child, I dismissed him as a rube. Later, once at a summer music camp, once in college, I received two letters from him, admonishments for things I had failed to do or had done and shouldn’t have. I knew my mother made him write,  but those letters were an awakening.

He had beautiful, strong handwriting. His grammar, spelling, and punctuation were impeccable. And he knew how to deliver a scolding that was firm, yet did not make me feel attacked as a person or unloved.  My mother could have learned a lot from him.

Those letters were the beginning of my reassessment of him.

Like me, my father had depression. His depression did not manifest in sadness or a need for social isolation. On the contrary, he was usually a sunny, gregarious person. He enjoyed people. He laughed easily. He liked a story or a joke.

His depression was about a lifelong low energy that manifested in difficulty staying with projects to completion and a lack of ambition that led him away from activity and toward the couch or chair for a nap. I can’t count the number of hobbies he took up and then dropped. I can’t count the number of times I saw him nodding off in a chair.

Nodding off on the job was what got him fired. He was a petroleum geologist, starting at Sinclair Oil Company as an oil scout just out of college, and ending as a desk geologist in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sinclair was the only company he had ever worked for, and he was laid off, actually, rather than fired. The oil business in Oklahoma was in an economic downturn. Sinclair had to let people go. My father had been sleeping at his desk for years, and they had tolerated it in the good times, but they couldn’t afford to be so tolerant in a business downturn.  Sinclair laid him off just before he would have qualified for a pension.

This happened while I was in high school. We were living in the university town of Norman, just south of Oklahoma City where my father commuted daily to work. After he was laid off he kept going to Oklahoma City every day for several months before he admitted to my mother he’d been laid off. A combination of wounded pride and cowardice, I suppose.

After that my father managed to scrape together a few temporary jobs, but he never worked full-time again. Our mother’s teaching job at University School  was our only reliable income.  Money was tight for us from then on. A big strain on an already strained family.

I’m happy to say there is a happy ending to the story. My mother was asked to join the faculty at a small college in Chickasha, not far from Norman. She got better pay, and a title. My father discovered, and stuck to, the joys of vegetable gardening. In time he qualified for social security.  Then my mother retired with a nice pension and her social security, and they became more comfortable financially. They bought a small RV, started exploring the country, and gradually fell in love again.

In 1981, at age 75, my father died suddenly in an RV campground in Jackson Hole, Wyoming  He and my mother had just visited me and my then-husband in Oregon before they left for Jackson Hole. It was a good visit. They were obviously happy. When I got the phone call from my mother she was crying, and I cried, too.

He had been a good man, and now I knew it.

Growing up I thought my father and I had nothing in common. Now I realize how I am like him:

  • I got his big, blue eyes.
  • I got his love of rocks and geology.
  • I got his love of reading.
  • I got his intellect and curiosity.

These are all good things.

I also got:

  • his depression gene, and specifically, his low energy
  • his difficulty sustaining interest in projects once started
  • his genes for alcohol and other addictions. He smoked cigarettes most of his life until he finally had to quit because of pneumonia and emphysema. I started sneaking his cigarettes when I was thirteen. I smoked on and off for the next 50 years, and I lost track of the times I tried to quit before I finally did it.

These are not-so-good things.

But all in all: Thank you, Daddy. You were a sweet and gentle soul, and I’m proud to be your daughter.

 

Thank you for reading my blog.

Marjorie Beck

 

 

You Can Say Something Sucks Now

I’m showing my age. Once upon a time the word “suck” was shorthand for something you weren’t to say in polite society.

In my high school and college days, I was very much into folk music. I subscribed to Sing Out! Magazine, must-reading for folkies back then. There were many folk music album reviews.

In October 1966, Simon and Garfunkel released their brilliant album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. Not really a folk album, but for some reason it was reviewed in Sing Out! I thought the review sucked, and decided to write a letter to Sing Out! saying so. I considered myself rather a social rebel at that time, but being shy, I rebelled mostly in writing.

The letter was short and to the point. I don’t remember the reviewer’s name now, so I can’t quote the letter exactly. Here it is.

     Dear Sing Out!

Your review of  Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme sucks. Perhaps Mr. (reviewer} just doesn’t understand poetry?

Well, they published the letter. But it read, in publication:

     Your review of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme . . . .  Perhaps Mr. (reviewer) just doesn’t understand poetry?

Such language delicacy wouldn’t happen now. People say something sucks all the time. I still say it sometimes. People say “fuck” all the time now, too. I say it sometimes, but only with people I know won’t be offended. I don’t consider “suck” and “fuck” my always go-to words, as many people seem to these days. Those words are meant to have shock value, and I think they just get boring when they’re used all the time.

Well, times change. As I said, I’m showing my age.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Marjorie Beck