Thursday, July 19, 2012

Little Red Riding Hood and B B Wolf 2

I am continuing to explore my Euro-American cultural origins with the children's bedtime story of  Little Red Riding Hood and Wolf. 

The beautiful image shows human and wolf contentedly looking at one another in the forest environment. It's an image of mutual respect living in the forest. 

The good news is that these nasty children's stories collected by the aptly named Brothers Grimm are no longer the standard fare for moulding young minds.

The bad news is that violence is even more general and prominent in our culture we call civilization, which it is now literally destroying us along with most other life.

Other bad news of modern times is that the age old style of mixing up humans and other animals in stories has been largely outed by misplaced scientific and literary correctness. Jane Goodall is honoured for partly breaking down that barrier.

In my childhood no child could escape hearing about the big bad wolf but I was read stories at bedtime by my mother from Beatrix Potter. Who could forget a name like Jemima Puddle Duck? Potter's animal characters were part of the old rural England in a time when farmers managed to provide food without making total war on the wild.

The first book that turned me on for reading was The Wind in the Willows, that I loved. These were wild rural England creatures made into human characters. The kindly old Toad of Toad Hall was endearing to many a kid.

I was lucky that a kind and wise aunt gave me Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book after I took to reading, which he wrote in 1894. 

In the Jungle Book the wild is portrayed as the good normal way of life and the wild animals as other people. Akela was the head of the pack and a great hero to the jungle boy 'man cub' Mowgli. The Jungle Book may be anthropomorphic but its perspective is jungle centred, not anthropocentric which is the cultural blindness we are afflicted with. 

Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing, 
and seven times- never kill Man!
If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker, devour not all in thy pride;
Pack-Right is the right of the meanest; 
so leave him the head and the hide.

Kipling who was born in India no doubt learned the back ground for the jungle book from Indian tribal peoples, who have great respect for wild animals. Mowgli the 'man cub' must have been modeled on actual cases of Indian feral children being adopted by wolves and living wild in the jungle. In the end Mowgli returns to the 'man village'. Feral children never survived being rescued by civilization. 

The North American native culture has profound respect for Wolf as having a great intelligence and culture within the wolf pack. Native people have told me they based their culture and governance largely on what they learned from their wolf kindred species. All living beings they know are people as 'all our relations'.

Our aggressive anthropocentrism does not allow us to see that science has proved the native people right. We are all closely related within the diverse culture of animal species, all with unique intelligences which does not make humans a superior species. In fact we depend  more than any other on all other species to survive.

On the once Great Plains the Sioux and Wolf hunted the once great buffalo herds together.

Wild predators only hunt when they have to for food out of hunger and there is no waste in Nature when a predator brings down its prey. The native people learned these lessons well.

Our modern science indicates that Wolf  (the ancestor of our domesticated dogs)  had a key role in the success of our species. The Sapiens of Homo Sapiens is owed in large measure to Wolf.  When human and wolf teamed up together for our mutual advantage our relatively weak maladapted species was able to prevail against the wild tiger that was our big predator and succeed  over other hominids. The combined intelligence of Human and wolf was our great success story.  If we had not befriended Wolf we probably would not exist and our Neanderthal relative might still be living as a wild hominid species.

Today Homo Sapiens is madly ravaging our common Earth home. Atmospheric greenhouse gas pollution is now adding to the sixth mass of extinction of life caused by our destruction of the last great forests and jungles. The deforestation adds to the carbon pollution.

We have no right to call ourselves Homo Sapiens Sapiens. We are now Homo Demens Demens, adding insanity onto insanity. 

The moral of this story  is we all need to learn to love the wolf and the wilderness with a profound respect if we are both to survive much longer. 

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