Animal Friendship

Right now I am reading Charlotte’s Web (147-339) in Charlotte’s Web and Other Illustrated Children’s Classics by E.B. White. I am on page 173… I think… A key moment has come… Fern’s mother, Mrs. Arable, is worried because Fern spends all of her time watching animals in Cousin Zuckerman’s barn and not playing with other children. Worse, she insists the animals are talking–that the spider Charlotte has told stories about a cousin who caught a fish and a cousin who was a balloonist. In hearing her daughter’s stories, Mrs. Arable goes to see Dr. Dorian to make sure there is nothing wrong with Fern. Mrs. Arable explains that Fern is even saying that the animals she watches are speaking. And Dr. Dorian sagely tells her that while he has never heard an animal talking, humans speak a great deal and perhaps it is our constant chatter that drowns out the voices of animals.

Though I’m sure E.B. White’s words are partially satirical, I cannot help wondering if there is some truth in them. Humans ignore the lessons we could learn from animals… of course in stories like Aesop’s, the industry of the ants is praised and the grasshopper’s folly in lacking that industry lamented. However, perhaps there is a deeper learning we can do from learning about the actual lives of octopuses and wolverines and monarch butterflies… They tell us when the earth is healthy and what our own fate may be. The female octopus gathers with other octopuses to live while feeding, thus showing the bond of women with women. Then it shows the limits of love when it eats the male octopus that mates with it to produce eggs which will be little octopuses. The wolverines show us how delicate nature is by needing great care on the part of those who study them to keep hunters from causing them to go extinct. The butterfly proves that even insects have something like feelings because they sense bigger creatures and float away because the sensing of danger is their primary emotion. With them the mystery is if they have a unified stream of consciousness or whether they merely experience a feeling of floating within their many eyes which look all around them at once.

I admit that I sometimes wish I could be vegetarian again. I was one for a while… the thing is, my doctors explained to me that I had severe anemia. This was the result of a lack of marrow in my bones. Bone marrow produces red blood cells, and red blood cells spread iron to the body, including the brain. Ironically, beef is a good producer of iron (though I have been warned that lean beef is a safter choice than the juicy steaks at restaurants). Iron is useful for other things, too, but in particular dopamine or “good feelings.” I believe that this lack of iron–and I still have mild anemia, I believe–has something to do with why I have Bipolar… because the low of a depressive episode could–this is my guess only–be the result of a lack of iron. Similarly, my doctor warned me that the symptoms I experienced in “hearing voices” and insomnia at night were the result of anemia…

I am forced to admit that I do enjoy eating meat. However, I am also not lying that my doctors want me to eat it… and sometimes I feel sorry for the animal… however, if I can, when I am not eating out, I try to eat free range chickens and other animals that were raised ethically. I don’t like eating Tyson’s Chicken, even though I sometimes do. I also only eat fatty meat when I eat out (steak or beef). This is because I keep Kosher and care how the animal is butchered. But because few restaurants buy animals that were butchered Kosher, it is regrettably true that the meat I eat outside of the home is not Kosher slaughtered or probably humanely raised…

Despite my meat eating, I believe I can befriend animals in a meaningful way… I had a dog Rosebud who was a very good dog, and though my cat Smokey is more Mom’s cat than mine, she does sometimes visit me at night when I go to bed and by day if Mom is outside of the house… I wish I could have more pets, actually… but Mom would not allow it.

Published by hadassahalderson

I am a professional author who lives in Wichita, KS. I went to Friends University and spent one year at Claremont Graduate University. My published work includes: The Bible According to Eve I-IV and Faust in Love.

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