Thursday, August 10, 2006

Friendship in Non-Human Animals

A story from When Elephants Weep:

John Teal, a researcher whose work involved raising musk oxen (an endangered species), described that one time, he was sealed within the oxen pen when some dogs ran toward the outside of the pen. Immediately, the musk oxen snorted, stamped, and charged at John. He was afraid for his life but, to his astonishment, the oxen did not attack him. Rather, they formed a defensive circle around him, horns facing out, pointing at the dogs—exactly the same as they do when protecting their calves!


Namaste said...

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Namaste said...
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Don Iannone said...

I appreciate your love of animals. So do I. Blessings!

Scheherazade said...

I'd love to think that somewhere in us, there is that innate animal instinct, to protect those that are smaller and weaker than (as I'm presuming the oxen thought of this man), even though they are strange and foreign and not our "kind."

But I don't.

Mike said...

Om & Don: Thanks for stopping by and for the comments!

Y: You don't think altruism is innate in humans? I readily admit, of course, that it's not always shown by people. What do you think is innate? And where do you think altruism comes from? Thanks for the honest, thought-provoking comment!

Scheherazade said...

No, I don't. And I know it reflects a sad state of mind and heart. Even when I reread this, I see that the researcher had "raised" the oxen. So they were familiar with him. He wasn't so strange.

Though I do believe we are all capable of "good." I tend to think we are more evil than good and society forces us to sublimate it and/or different religions/spiritual praxes condition us otherwise.

There is a scripture from the bible that has always intrigued me. Accuse me of taking it out of context and so on, but it says "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, EVEN THOUGH EVERY INCLINATION OF HIS HEART IS EVIL FROM CHILDHOOD." (Genesis 8:21). Then there's the illustrative example of Cain and Able...

When I use "innate" I mean it as a trait/characteristic we are born with. Something inherent. Yes I have witnessed many kindnesses from strangers and been the recipient of such kindnesses and have doled out kindnesses myself. I just don't think it's something that comes naturally. You've got to FIGHT to be good and do the right thing. It ain't easy

But it's worth it.

Maxie said...

Regarding the "inherent nature of man". The spiritual nature of man is inherently good, but the carnal nature of man, (of the flesh),is born with the stain of sin on it, and evil impulses in the heart. However when we are "redeemed", (Websters, "to buy something back again at a price") we are then "restored" (Websters: returned to an original state of condition or position) back again to our original state of having been made in the image and likeness of God, which is good and holy.
While many Chritians will quickly say that man is evil and reference the Scripture contained in Genesis 6:5 "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." However, they don't realize that this is speaking of the carnal nature of man. The Spriritual nature was created in the image and likeness of God and therefore has to be good. But there is the stain of sin on the soul. When we are redeemed, the sin is removed, and we are "washed clean", and God begins the process of restoring (returning) us back to our original state of goodness, as explained in the beginning of my statement here.
You know this question is oneof the classic debates in the history of philosophy and religion?
Have a good day.

Mike said...

Hi Maxie,

Thanks for the comment, and for clarifying the meaning behind that verse in Genesis.