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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Struggling: The Art of Living with Compasson and Brutality

I must ironically admit, I have been struggling to find the words to write this blog. The idea came to me the other night when Lady Allwinky and myself where outside by our pool enjoying good brews and good conversation. As the sky became darker and the pool water glistened, I was distracted by the site of several large bugs struggling to survive in the water. I went to rescue them with my skimmer net, while Lady Allwinky laughed about my compassion for these bugs.

The strange thing is, I would kill one of those bugs without a second thought if it had landed on my arm, or more importantly, near my beer! But, to watch it struggle for life while drowning in my pool, that's a different mind set for me. So, where's the logic in the Art of Living with Compassion and Brutality?

As a child I was intrigued by the struggle of life and death. Perhaps because it was being lived out in my living room watching the Vietnam War on television while my mother was struggling to survive her cancer. I took advantage of any situation to kill, with my gun or bow and arrow, birds, squirrels, etc. Then, one fateful Saturday morning in the woods while quail hunting with my dad, I looked the struggle between life and death square in the eyes of a dying quail. I winged it and it fell into a creek bed. I followed the dogs to find it. It had fallen into the water and was struggling to catch its breath and trying to fly away but couldn't. I picked it up as it flopped around in my hands. I felt compassion and sorrow. That is when my dad caught up with me and said, "Good shot!", while he proceeded to wring off the quails head to end its struggle. That is the last time I went quail hunting.

I do believe that there is a time to kill; after all, I did enjoy eating that quail prepared by my mother's loving hands. So, where do we draw the line between compassion and brutality? Perhaps the compassion in killing comes with making sure you do it efficiently, otherwise you're left dealing with compassion to save what you just tried to kill. It's an age old question with no easy answers. So, the struggle continues.

Sir Hook "The Brutally Compassionate" of Warrick


  1. Ah, one of the ending scenes from "Blade Runner" comes to mind:

    [Deckard does some amazing climbing, then jumps to next building. Roy follows, holding a white pigeon.]
    Roy: Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave.
    [Deckard spits at Roy as he falls; Roy catches him with one hand.]
    Roy: I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the darkness at Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.
    [Bird flies off...]
    Deckard : I don't know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life, anybody's life, my life. All he'd wanted were the same answers the rest of us want. Where did I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got? All I could do was sit there and watch him die.

    If a bug lands on my arm, I would flick it off, unless it was a mosquito or tick in which case ... die, die, DIE! Now if it is a spider in my shower, it's life will also reluctantly end. Other things in the house I try and shew out. Okay, ants in the house must die as well. And rodents. Wow, there is a back and forth line of life and death isn't there? And death has been on my mind a lot lately.

    Sir James of Taylor

  2. I guess we're each "struggling to survive." It's just not always as easy to see.

    The main principle of Buddhist morality is to help others (like bugs in the water), and, if that's not possible, at least to do no harm.

    In order to do that, we must restrain the mind from falling into selfishness -- much easier said than done, I'm afraid.

    As I watch some of the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics, I noticed many references to Confucius, who said, "Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire." A very early example of the Golden Rule.

    He also wrote, "If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself."

    Sir Hook, I will take your teaching today and try to correct my lack of compassion.

  3. Ah Death... the Big D. The one thing that is for certain, and the one thing we can't answer till we've done it. Forget all the religious soft soaping... No-ONE Knows! Me? like most folk, i'll settle for something peaceful or interesting ( say getting hit by a 50ft metal Letter thats fallen off some building as i was passing...nice and ironic like. :) anything quick and painless and in 55 years time will do nicely...I like Life too much....

    As for Sir James.. may i refer you to the great Comedian Emo Phillips, who i watched in a Greenich Village club a few years ago in NY... when he said " I told my Psycho-analyst I had a penchant for Self- Destruction.....and he
    replied " Go for it".

    Sir Dayvd the immortal ( for now )

  4. Actually i just thought of an even better gag that was told me in a bar the other night...

    About how all the Call- Centers and Help-Lines are now being out-sourced to India and the Far-east, and how The Samartans USA is now based in when I called up and said I was Suicidal, they got all excited and said " Can you drive a Truck "??

    Sir Dayvd ( dying on stage tonight ) of Oxfordshire