Saturday, August 06, 2005

Saturday Soapbox

So today we decided to run away and join the circus.

Ok, so maybe all we did was attend the circus. It was a family affair with six of us enjoying the sights. I wasn't really sure if I would like it, I mainly bought the tickets for Mr. Personality. But upon entering the arena, I found myself screeching and clapping with the best of them. Ringling Bros. has instituted something they term an "all access preshow" which was awesome. We got to go down onto the floor of the arena, sit around the "rings" and watch the performers from perhaps 6 feet away. At first, Mr. Personality was a bit overwhelmed with the sensory overload, but then he got into it. At one point, he was sitting on his grandfather's lap, and was laughing so hard at one of the clowns that his entire body was shaking. My sister and I were laughing so hard at him that we had tears in our eyes. To my surprise, we were all greatly entertained by the whole show.

I know that there is a large amount of critcism of the circus for the way they treat the animal performers. I have mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, I felt that it was a travesty for the magnificent tigers to be sitting on little platforms and rolling over on command. I also felt a large twinge of guilt about the elephants. The experts of Zooboomafu have informed me that they are incredibly intelligent and posess high levels of emotion. The horses were gorgeous, and it seemed demeaning for them to prance across the rings on two legs. I felt like I was this evil animal exploiter who was enjoying the humiliation of wonderful creatures for my own selfish enjoyment. I sank down in my seat, waiting for PETA to break into the arena and spray us all with something noxious.

But isn't that the history of humans, to essentially bend animals to our will? There are domesticated versions of many animals, and without their help, our domination of the earth probably wouldn't have been quite so overwhelming. Our ability to grow large scale crops would have been zilch. The animal protesters are particularly offended at the "incarceration" of the elephants. But on the very same Zooboomafu, it showed completely domesticated elephants in India whose sole purpose was to ferry people around.

In my tiny brain, I can find no easy answer to the ethical question of the subjugation of the animals. If domestication of animals is wrong, then we have been wrong for centuries. Or is it only wrong to domesticate "stupid" animals? Are certain ones exempt? Is a circus life for an animal any better than a zoo? I don't see many people protesting zoos. Or if they do, they need to obtain a better PR person.

It seems that we humans feel we own everything, and as we endlessly chip away at these animals' natural habitats, it is highly possible that the only tigers or elepahts that exist will be at the zoo or circus. Perhaps we need to address that issue first.


Cuppa said...

Oh Gina, let me get on the soapbox with you and rant and rave for a mintue for two.

The circus really touches a raw nerve with me becaue of the use of animals. The clowns are ok and the high wire acts are great, but I wish they would leave the animals out of it.

When my kids were younger we took them to the circus once, and I could hardly sit there. I was in pain for the animals and I wanted to go set them all free.

Another year we went to Marineland with the kids and I came out of there almost in tears. I thought the whole idea of making these magnificent whales do tricks was awful and cruel, and I vowed never to go back.

I don't like Zoo's either, and the tourist attractions that offer a swim with a dolphin really bother me.

There, that is enough ranting and raving for today. I will step down off the soapbox now and try to calm down.

Elizabeth said...

As long as there is a profit to be made, 'Smart' will always bend, exploit, enslave and subjugate 'stupid' to its will. It doesn't matter whether it's animals or people.

Our country was built by 'smart' bending 'stupid'. The railroads? Did 'smart' do the work? Nope. The skyscrapers? Did 'smart' do the work? Nope. 'Smart' made the money. 'Stupid' did the work.

George Orwell's Animal Farm is a stunning literary analogy of 'smart' bending 'stupid'.

Can you rid the human heart of its incessant pursuit of power, greed and using those lower on the intellectual food chain to achieve its goals? Nope. Can those who want to protect animals win against those who want to use animals for profit? Probably not.

So what will happen?

Mother Nature will become tired of being raped and pillaged. Disease, lack of water, higher temps, extinction of valuable plants and animals...hopefully not in our lifetime or in the lifetime of our grandchildren but it will happen.

And when it happens it won't be pretty because you really can’t fool Mother Nature. She’ll humble you every time.