RULES VS FEELINGS

By William Markiewicz

I listened briefly to a radio discussion between an animal rights promoter and an opponent of those rights. The opponent sustained that as the animals don't share our values and responsibilities they don't deserve our rights either. The animal rights advocate argued that if everything were to be judged by reciprocity, then retarded children shouldn't benefit from any rights. By the way, it isn't true that the animals don't share our values and responsibilities. I remember hearing about a man who gave some food to a rat that seemed friendly. One night he was awakened by a bite and found his place in flames. The rat, before escaping, had saved the man's life. On TV, I once saw a very human-like warm, expression of gratitude from a chimpanzee toward a human. It was striking that the expression of gratitude was not in immediate response to the given favor; the ape had to figure it out intellectually. I have also seen very funny animal expressions of humor, clever even by human criteria.

Hitler said that 'nature is aristocratic.' Nazi philosophy states that we live in a Darwinian universe in which we love our own kind, respect the strong, despise the weak. Why do many of us feel intuitively that the Darwinian universe, in spite of its overwhelming reality and apparent logic, is too narrow to be unquestionably accepted? Probably because the human psyche is broader than the exterior 'natural order.' We have broken so many natural laws, for better and for worse, that we cannot stick only to the 'natural' values. Empathy gives us a plunging view into a dimension impenetrable to the eye and logic. Ataulpa Yupanki sang: "Bad was the painter who painted me, because what was inside he couldn't see...." It's the nature of rules to be rigid and the nature of rigidity to be broken. I don't remember which 19th century French author advised youth: "Lean upon principles until they start to wobble." Unfettered intuition opens the gates to a flexible universe. In Emanuella's "Antivirgin", the high priest of license teaches that perfection resides not in 'truth' but in 'utility'; rules have to be broken when they become part of a routine. Freedom in turn must be restrained when it takes itself for granted to a point where it doesn't count anymore, like a child satiated with candies. "Now we're in a period of destroying temples; once we achieve it, we will start rebuilding them," said the high priest. He reiterated an older truth because at the beginning of the last century, the wizard of science told us that all is relative. The physics of quanta advance even further, leaving the old canons of science behind.

Back to the index of the Vagabond
© Copyright 2000 E-mail to: William Markiewicz