Do you know what I’ve discovered? I need a break! My mind is about to explode (again!). Keeping abreast of the news to stay informed as a blogger affords me more stress than my little, little brain can consistently handle, and I often need to get away—if only just in my mind. Not to mention the fact that this blogging stuff is so much harder than anyone lets on.
When a would-be writer first starts the task of telling the world her innermost feelings, she naïvely thinks the world will just be waiting with bated breath for her latest “mot juste.” Not only isn’t the world chomping at the bit to read my her crap (although, I shouldn’t complain—I’m doing better than most), it takes a lot of reading to stay informed and not sound like an idiot.
So, this week, I needed to go to a place to get fresh perspective on the inhabitants of the Earth who are coming across as mostly good-for-nothing-ne’er-do-wells as was demonstrated by the tone-deaf NRA who will probably destroy any formative gun control, a crazy North Korean who wants to nuke us and take over the world, and the alleged mass murderer, Kevin Gosnell, who operated an illegal, unregulated abortion clinic for years and committed mass murder against full-term babies and at least one mother in the most barbaric, horrific manner. (IMHO: this is not a pro-choice or pro-life issue—this is a basic human rights issue. Why have we liberals been so quiet about this evil man’s barbarism?) Humans are the custodians of the Earth and we don’t seem to be doing very well. As a blogger, I’m losing the creativity to write about human meanness in such a way that it pricks the hearts of those who stumble across my blog and brings about compassion and a desire to love one’s fellowman as one’s self.
Cartoon by David Horsey | www.latimes.com
We jumped 35 degrees and skipped from winter to summer (it is 95 degrees at this writing) in my area this week, and when I went for a walk to clear my head, I started seeing all sorts of crazy animal activity unnerved by the sudden hike in temperatures. Woodpeckers were frantically pounding away at the siding on my house trying to get in to build a nest (convinced they were behind schedule, I’m sure). Hundreds of sparrows were trying to find hiding places in foliage that hadn’t had time to make its appearance. The sparrows knew that the 17-year-cicada invasion (whose entry cue is a temperature of 65 degrees), would now arrive early before the birds had set up condos in the trees, and the squirrels just looked at me with a “Say What?! I think all the animals thought I could answer for the erratic behavior of the weather. While I walked, I meditated on the biblical character of Job who was pretty pissed off at his fellow humans at one time (I’m sure he was the Earth’s original ranting blogger, or maybe it was Jeremiah with his Lamentations, but my old age is causing these details to slip). Job was pretty hacked off about the way his friends were treating him, and the state of affairs in his hometown (marauders, mayhem, chaos, loss of his business and his entire family, giant boils on his skin, and people generally getting on his nerves telling him that all the mayhem was his fault). At one point Job lashes out at his so-called friends and tells them how they can ascertain the truth about life since they don’t believe him and can’t seem to see it with their own eyes:
“Ask the animals, and they will teach you,
Or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you,
Or speak to the Earth, and it will teach you,
Or let the fish in the sea inform you.”
Aha! I thought. I will go and speak to the animals and see what I can learn from them about the human race. I shall send my alter-ego (the Dalai Mama) to interview a sector of the animal population that can best shed light on life—our closest relatives—the primates.
Bonobo Couple | photo by Finbarr and O’Reilly/Reuters via MSN
INTERVIEW WITH CLAUDE AND LYDIA BONOBO
By Dalai Mama at DM-TV | Location: The Democratic Republic of the Congo
DM-TV: “Mr. and Mrs. Bonobo, how y’all doin’? I’m so glad to finally meet you. Are you ready for your Dalai Mama TV interview? Excuse my ignorance, but do you know I never heard of your kind, and I’m sure most of my audience never heard of you either. It’s not your fault; it’s just that America’s educational system isn’t the best these days. I barely knew where Cincinnati was when I was growing up in The Cleve, let alone, the Congo. But I did do some research on you recently,* and I discovered your official name is Pan paniscus—affectionately known as the pygmy chimpanzee. That’s so precious.”
LYDIA: “Actually, dear, we are a close cousin of the chimpanzee, but they are much more quarrelsome than we are, and many of them are extremely boorish and don’t play well with others—much like you humans.”
CLAUDE: “Now Lydia, don’t be rude, sweetheart.”
LYDIA: “Sorry, darling, I was just trying to point out that we Bonobos have a reputation of ‘make love, not war.’ The Google says that hippy humans tried this in the 60s but it disintegrated into drugs and chaos.”
DM-TV: “Yeah, we got the sex part kinda right, but we still kept killing each other. Is it true that you share 98 percent of our DNA, ‘cause that just boggles my mind, child.”
LYDIA: “So, we’ve been told, but we are way ahead of you humans on a few levels. Did you know that female Bonobos rule over the male Bonobos? We solved the equality issue a long time ago—we just simply declared, “Girls Rule!” The only other species that do this are the spotted hyena and the Madagascar lemur. I’m the leader of this tribe, so if you need anything, just let me know. Would you like something to eat—a banana, perhaps? I’ve heard that you humans are still wrestling with the concept of female leadership. Is it true you’ve never had a woman leader of your country?”
DM-TV: “Yeah, it’s true—maybe next time. For some reason, women continue to be a threat to the male leadership in my country as well as so many other cultures. Girl, it’s just insane! Tell me something—do y’all share your food so that no Bonobo goes hungry (this banana is delicious, by the way)? And do you provide childcare for the entire group?
LYDIA: “Yes and yes. Women are in charge of the food and we will usually share with our immediate family and those we don’t know. Every once and awhile we’ll swat a male Bonobo away from the food if the babies haven’t eaten. All Bonobo babies are provided for—no matter who the parents are. You humans don’t share your food or provide universal childcare? That seems a little primitive, don’t you think? No Bonobo dies from hunger. We’re dying out, but we’re dying because of your human wars and rumors of wars. We used to be 100,000 strong in the Congo; now we are down to a mere 5,000 Bonobos. And since we only exist in this area of the world where there’s always humans destroying the jungle and poaching our friends and relatives, we’re on the endangered species list. I’ve got to admit that our daily existence can get really stressful due to you humans. The older Bonobos are pretty Zen about it all, but the younger ones (you know teenagers; you can’t tell them anything) are furious about the whole situation and can get quite aggressive from time to time.
Cartoon by Dan Piraro | www.bizarro.com
DM-TV: “Speaking of stress, I read somewhere that Bonobos use sex as tension relief, as an expression of goodwill, and to enhance bonding. Is it also true that the Kama Sutra is required reading for all the Bonobos?”
LYDIA: “That’s an urban legend, girlfriend. Don’t believe everything you hear or read on the Internet. Unlike the crude chimpanzees, who have no creativity whatsoever when it comes to having sex, the Bonobos perform sex in every position you can possibly imagine and then some, including the missionary position which the chimpanzees have still yet to master (I told you they were crude). We Bonobos do mouth-to-mouth kissing, oral sex, penis-fencing, and G-G rubbing just to name a few of our Bonobo-like “Kama Sutra” acts. We also have homosexual Bonobos, but that is not unique to us. I read the other day on the Google that 1,500 species have homosexual couplings.”
DM-TV: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, I don’t even want to know what “penis-whatever” and “G-G (oh my God)” is!! You Bonobos sho’ know how to get yo’ freak on!” I’m way too old to be hearin’ this!
LYDIA: “He, he, heeee . . . are you blushing, dear? Look Honey, the human is embarrassed!”
CLAUDE: “Mother, stop messing with our guest; you can see she’s beet red even underneath her hairless brown body. Is there anything else, you’d like to know Mrs. Dalai?”
DM-TV: “Um . . . um . . . no, don’t you think that’s enough? I need a bar of soap to wash out my brain and my eyes as it is. Oh yeah, I did have one more question (God may this be a safe one!) How do you socialize? Do y’all play games?
LYDIA: “That’s one of our best assets, Dalai Baby! Playing together is how we engage in creativity, how we bond, how we problem-solve, and most of all, how we avoid conflict. What are you writing so furiously, dear?”
DM-TV: “A note to our President: Dear President Obama—‘Please send the legislative branch to the Congo for a teaching session by the Bonobos on game-playing as conflict resolution and team building—ASAP! I think our leaders will be able to learn from the Bonobos if they will just shut up and listen. P.S. The Bonobos are a tad X-rated.’”
Primatologist and TED Fellow Isabel Behncke Izquierdo show how a wild bonobo ape society in the Congo learns from constantly playing at Ted “Think Fun” 2011.
I am discovering that we still have so much to learn about the Earth and the animals that we’ve been given stewardship over—not to mention how much we need to learn and respect about one another. It seems to me that we all need to slow down, stop the madness of warring against each other and raping of the land and its inhabitants, and listen to what God’s creatures are showing us about who we are and what we need to do to become truly human (that’s a lot of “ands” but you know what I mean). I personally believe that the entire Earth and the heavens speak to who we are and to the glory of God. We are more than our politics, the limitations of our religions, and the narrow-mindedness of our experiences. Let’s all take a chill pill and go talk to the animals this week. We just might learn how to be human.
“Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.”–Thomas Jefferson
“I ask people why they have deer heads on their walls. They always say because it’s such a beautiful animal. There you go. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photographs of her.”—Ellen DeGeneres
“Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be.”—William Hazlitt
“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.”― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
“Talk to the Animals”: Adorable Sea Lion and Allison Williams from “Girls”| www.fw.com
* “An exclusive Look at Bonobos: The Left Bank Ape” by David Quammen from National Geographic, March 2013
http://www.bonobo.org/Bonobos are an endangered species. Please check out the Bonobo Conservation website to learn more about them and how to participate in saving them from poachers, loggers, and agricultural encroachment.
BONOBOS AT PLAY | www.brown.edu | laboratory primate letter
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