We Could Learn From The Cows

Last week our local farmer released his cows into a field across the lane from where I live. They’d been enclosed in the barn all winter. What a commotion! They leapt about, kicking their back legs in the air and rushing around like demented things. It took a full hour before they settled down to grazing peacefully at the long grass.

Postings have been non-existent for a while, partly due to other commitments, but mainly because it seems that so much is being written about Covid-19 there seemed little worth adding to the mix. Less obvious, perhaps, is how humanity collectively is reacting to the pandemic and its effects on us.

The answer is that we’re not reacting very well. It seems that we cannot hide ourselves away for very long without needing to break out and create mayhem within our own borders.

The disgusting manner in which US police officers manhandled George Floyd causing his death, is unpalatable in any civilized nation. He is not the first black man to die brutally at the hands or guns of US police officers, so why has this death created such a reaction in so many countries, when others have generated only limited local protests?

Could it possibly be as a result of Covid-19?

For years the news has been regularly peppered with shootings in America generally, and of black people specifically. Yet even when children are gunned down in their schools by fanatics and sick individuals it fails to generate the wholesale reaction we are seeing of late over the killing of George Floyd.

It’s truly splendid to note that in Britain the call has gone out to open up the annals of history and display once and for all the hideously cruel and despicable actions carried out under the banner of the British Empire. Remnants of that ’empire’ are still alive and well today, ingrained by powerful propaganda into the minds of many Brits who consider themselves true patriots, far superior to those whose skins may be tinted differently from theirs.

DEFINITION: Patriot: (Literal) … ‘of the fatherland’

In America, uprisings throughout most of that nation have taken on a fervour never before seen in such intensity. Even ignoring Trump’s ridiculous exaggerations, there can be no doubt this movement has gained a momentum that could have repercussions throughout the whole of the United States.

As always, the lunatics on both political fringes of society have jumped on the bandwagon of anger and frustration emanating from each side of the Atlantic, to cause violence and mayhem. But it’s not just the anarchists who are running amok. In Britain, only this week, the town of Bristol was rocked when a crowd of protesters tore down a statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader from the 17th century whose company transported an estimated 84,000 African slaves to the colonies.

It’s difficult to condemn such an act, but when citizens run amok razing civic structures, setting fire to buildings, and causing mayhem, should we not consider the true implications of their actions?

We accept protests in our societies as a democratic right, so long as they’re peaceful. Rightly so, but violence in any or all of its forms we must condemn and resist. Taken to extremes the use of violence against our societies, by individuals or groups, is a stepping stone to anarchy and a breakdown of law and order, resulting in an overthrow of democratic government  (however imperfect) and the imposition of a much inferior and authoritarian regime.

When the cows of our local farmer were released from their barn, the resulting high spirits sprang from a release of pent up energy and possibly some sense of well-being that the long confinement was finally over. One sense totally lacking with these cattle was the sense of fear. Had fear been instilled in them over their winter sojourn, the resulting antics following their release would have been quite different, and far more violent.

Unlike the farmer’s cows, our lives have been filled with fear over the last three or four months of winter. Suddenly, our cosy, comfortable, lives that we’d been used to since birth, were gone. Confinement indoors, isolated, with its accompanying dread of a deadly virus emanating from the mouths of anyone who came too close, propagandized into our brains by Covid-19 twenty-four hour media news, seemed almost like the end of civilisation as we’d known it. It’s possible it was.

There’s a very real fear that life may never be the same again. The virus still lurks, picking us off one by one if we drop our guard for an instant. Will it return in force as winter encroaches again? Will we be locked away once more, like the farmer’s cows, only with the accompaniment of even greater fear next time. No happy release for us, should Covid-19 stalk the towns and cities once more.

We can do nothing about the virus. We hope the scientists will effect a cure or a vaccine. Many viruses have been eradicated by vaccination on a major scale. Yet influenza and the common cold still exist and flourish, and they are both coronaviruses, like Covid-19.

So we have a sense of high-spirits when our lockdown is lifted, but the fear is still there. Indeed, just removing lockdown increases the fear for many. Confined, we were safe. Outside, the world has taken on a strange, almost malignant, form. It’s no longer secure and safe. Death, like an invisible alien ray, lurks everywhere.

We need to make everything better. But how to do so? Then, suddenly, an explosion of fear-laden emotion blasts around America and across the Atlantic. Change is the answer! Things must change. We’ll start with the vile scourge of racism. Let’s wipe out this horror once and for all. We can’t eradicate the virus, but we can purge ourselves of other bad things.

Like the cows let into the field we have a way now to exorcise our pent up energy and emotions. Unlike the cows we still have to deal with our fear, and fear is a negative and violent emotion, particularly when instilled into populations en masse. Dealing with that fear has produced violent responses and civic unrest on an almost unimaginable scale.

The cows are a part of the animal kingdom to which we, Homo sapiens, also belong. Had the cows been fearful over winter they would have reacted much more violently on their release, just as many of us have done on ours. Without Covid-19 it’s unlikely the unlawful killing of George Floyd would have raised any more of a protest than any of the many other unlawful police killings, or mass shootings, so prevalent in America.

Perhaps, if we had only universally recognised and accepted our membership of the animal kingdom, instead of constantly proclaiming our superiority over it, and detachment from it, we might possibly have escaped Covid-19 altogether.

Science tells us the virus came about because of our destruction of natural habitats to further our greedy demands. Recognising our kinship with those creatures whose homes we’ve been decimating, may have made us think twice before doing so.






One Reply to “We Could Learn From The Cows”

  1. Very good piece, RJ – as always! There has been (as you are no doubt aware) yet another police murder of a black male since your writing this post- shot in the back -and for next to nothing! I don’t know what to say any more!

    Re the desecration/toppling of statues – I was not happy about Winston Churchill’s being included. In fact, I’d rather all of those monuments involved had been peacefully transferred to museums, and placed in correct context with explanatory notices.

    Churchill was no angel – this we know – but if not for his leadership when it was most needed….. I’d not be here, or anywher, right now. Those who have no experience of actual war from a a civilian’s viewpoint tend to pontificate, they know no better. There are fewer and fewer of us around now who have actually heard bombs dropping in the next street and on neighbours’ homes. The good of a person has to balance the bad, and all must be seen in context of the times involved, and the then current mindsets and attitudes .

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