Honesty Per Se

Author at "happyplace" writes:
Instances of enormous dogs getting freaked out by tiny, helpless creatures is probably the best evidence I've come across for a benevolent architect of the universe. I'm surprised that YouTube videos—such as this one, featuring a 14-month-old Great Dane's nerve-wracked reaction to a fluffy, little gosling—don't factor more often into theological debates.
Well, the reason they don't is just what this competing article is mocking.
As humans, we are so quick to default to preconceptions, but these mental shortcuts often harm our way of thinking. In many cases, preconceived notions blind us from approaching situations in new ways. To challenge that idea, we put a falcon and a rabbit in the same room. You’re probably thinking, “Oh, the falcon immediately killed the rabbit,” because that’s what you’ve been taught to think.

And in this particular case, yes, that is exactly what happened. Almost instantly. Your preconceptions were 100 percent spot-on.

It’s so beautiful when the animal kingdom surprises us, when predators don’t act like senseless killing machines. Unfortunately, this was not one of those times.

This room was way too small for the bunny to have any chance. It took about an eighth of a second for the falcon to completely disembowel the rabbit and begin feasting on its entrails...


E Hines said...

A snack the dog knows he's not allowed to have, so he reacts nervously, investigating carefully the forbidden temptation--including the pair of "who sent you" sniffs. Just like the dog reacted nervously of consequence when he almost knocked the ceramic coasters off the table.

The falcon was not similarly restrained by threat of consequence. He just enjoyed his meal.

Eric Hines

douglas said...

Exactly- the dog may never have seen such a thing before and may also be a little cautious, perhaps having learned that just because it's small doesn't mean it can't hurt you. I hope they don't leave that dog and gosling in a room together alone... They'll be a bit disappointed if they believe as the author at 'Happy Place" does.

I've seen this nervous dog routine too many times- my dog and my old, blind cat. The dog has the instinct to go after small furry things, but knows the cat is ours and we've warned her off it, and that she's got claws and will use them- blind or not. It's just the nervous energy of restraint.

MikeD said...

I normally find myself to be too cynical, and generally not terribly sentimental about the relationships between predators and prey. Yet I also tend to have an abnormally soft spot when it comes to animals. Perhaps it is a duty that I feel we have to defend those weaker than ourselves (as most animals do tend to be). Not from nature, but from humans at least. Animal cruelty is definitely one of the ways to provoke me into a violent rage.

But in this case, I will take a somewhat sentimental view of this video, and others I have seen. Such as one where a cheetah who kills and consumes a chimpanzee, spares the chimp's baby and even attempts to care for it (unsuccessfully, as should be unsurprising). The cheetah clearly knows chimpanzees are food, and a baby chimpanzee is clearly a less challenging example of food. And yet, the cheetah attempted to care for a baby of a prey species. Why? I am sure there is a cynical and scientific rationalization about big eyes and large heads triggering maternal instincts in a mammal, but I think the real question is why is that a cross species trait? What would prompt a carnivorous big cat to ignore the sensory input of the smell of food, the sounds food animals make, the very taste of food (since she also cleaned the baby), and simply accept "big eyes, big head" and get "confused" that this was a baby she needed to care for?

I don't think it is just a case of genetic wiring. I think it's a glimpse of the divine. It is mercy, practiced by animals who should otherwise have no need for mercy. For whom mercy is a trait counter to the demands of survival. Like the author of "happyplace", I see this as the work of God.

Grim said...

And yet, the cheetah attempted to care for a baby of a prey species. Why?

Animal husbandry?

I have a great deal of respect for our nearby cousins in the world of animals. What I doubt is that they share our moral instincts. Why would they? Their natures are very much different.

MikeD said...

And yet, from time to time, they exhibit behaviors that (in humans) could be considered "moral". As you say, it's not "in their nature", and yet they do it. As I said, I see God's handiwork in these rare occasions.