August 5, 2015, Prescott- Today’s paper discussed a plan by the U.S. Forest Service, in Roosevelt, AZ, to round up a herd of wild horses, which have been in the area since the days of Father Kino (ca. 1690). The horses would then be turned over to the Arizona Department of Agriculture, which then, by statute, has to auction them off in 30 days, if their “rightful owner does not claim them.” Since Maricopa and Gila Counties do not have a tradition of Spanish Land Grant, such rightful owners no longer exist. The animals would thus go to the highest bidders, who would, ostensibly, be the operators of slaughter houses. Pets have to eat, ya know!
The horses are said to be a potential threat to public safety, as they “might” enter Arizona Highway 87, which goes from Tucson to Winslow, and thus goes through the horses’ habitat. This potential threat is also shared by elk, deer, coyotes, mountain lions, javelina, and, in the higher country near Payson, bears. This could end up being a roundup to rival the Danish whale Grind, about which, more in a bit.
The Salt River Indian Community has offered to take custody of the horses, and there is a great hue and cry in the Metro Phoenix area. Three conservative, pro-business U.S. Congresspeople have stood up for the animals, so the Forest Service can’t say this is in the interests of the economy, either. I would say, take the Salt River people up on their offer, or leave the animals alone.
Now, to Denmark, the Faero Islands, and cetaceans: The neo-Viking mentality that has surfaced in the “Happiest Nation on Earth”, in recent weeks is 1) mind-numbing in its pursuit of slaughter for its own sake; 2) reminiscent of the ill-fated jailing, imprisonment and, later, killings of those who went to the American South, and to South Africa, to protest the legally-sanctioned ill-treatment of Black people. This time, it is in defense of animals, which actually heightens the worthiness of the actions: Animals can’t speak for themselves.
Let’s think a bit about the ethics of hunting and killing of animals. The traditional hunter stalks a creature which both is able to defend itself and has the means of escape. I know bow hunters who, each Fall, go in search of deer or elk, in Arizona’s high country. When they make a kill, the animal is prayed over, thanked for its sacrifice and all parts are put to use. There is no pseudo-macho chest thumping over what has transpired. Children are taught to respect the animal, use their weapons properly and follow the process of putting each animal part to good use.
Contrast this, with the recent miserable spectacle of two American medical professionals, who went to the country of Zimbabwe and staged canned hunts of lions, within range of a national park. The President of that country is fond of saying that being hunted is how wild animals “pay their rent”. If this practice is allowed to stand, however, Mr. Mugabe will soon find himself with a dearth of tenants. Trophy hunting, like trophy marriage, is an odious practice, and needs to go the way of the medieval joust.
How ironic that all this is happening, in the silly summer of “Zoo”. Far better it is for us to heed the Words of Baha’u’llah: “He should show kindness to animals, how much more unto his fellow-man, to him who is endowed with the power of utterance. He should not hesitate to offer up his life for his Beloved, nor allow the censure of the people to turn him away from the Truth. He should not wish for others that which he doth not wish for himself, nor promise that which he doth not fulfil. With all his heart should the seeker avoid fellowship with evil doers, and pray for the remission of their sins. He should forgive the sinful, and never despise his low estate”. The Kitab-i-Iqan, Pages 161-200: 194
I have made the comment, elsewhere, that unless the savagery of the Grind stops, I will not purchase anything produced in Denmark or Faeroern, nor would I visit them on any future journey. This, in and of itself, is minuscule- but multiply little old me by thousands, and the effect is quite staggering for such small nations. Likewise, Zimbabwe, which depends on tourist dollars, for its “rent”, is in no position to face a boycott. Should the people of those nations take heed, and find other outlets for their machismo, they would find a wealth of opportunity to fully partake in the bounty of the world community.