On Tuesday after one of our runs in Central Park, my friend Dale and I were talking about the world's troubles, with all of its strife, hatred and senseless warring. We agreed that all hatred and killing came down to the ego and its irrational fear; fear of losing something: one's security for example. We also agreed that one ingredient towards a peaceful existence is tolerance. You can witness this exemplary behavioral practice on any given day or hour of the week on a New York City Subway. It takes a lot of tolerance to live in a city like New York underground or above. So, if we can practice tolerance on a subway car why can't we practice it elsewhere?
It's been said many times that we can learn a lot from animals and I agree. Take the example of pigeons and horses as pictured above. Everyday before the horse-drawn carriages (I disapprove of this business completely) in Central Park are loaded up with tourists, they are fed a bucket of oats. Within seconds of the bucket being placed in front of the horse, a flock of pigeons alight at the horse's feet. They know that in order for the horse to swallow it needs to lift its head after licking up its morning carbs. (The metal plate in the horses mouth doesn't make eating any easier.) Pigeons are extremely smart as well as friendly and trusting of horses and humans. When the horse lifts its head out of the bucket the pigeons jump onto and into the bucket pecking up the nutritious oats. When the horse has swallowed and leans in for another mouth full, the pigeons acquiesce. This sequence is repeated until the bucket is emptied. Both the horse and the pigeon get what they need. The horse could obviously take out a one-pound bird with a quick kick to the head but he doesn't. He's tolerant of the pigeons. Maybe, he even has a willingness to share?
Why are we humans so afraid to tolerate and or share? Why do we have such a need for greed? Why do we not look after and care for each other more? Why do we not learn from all our past mistakes? If we are so much smarter than pigeons and horses, why as a species do we kill each other at such an alarming rate? (In Iraq alone, an approximate 100,000 civilans have been killed since 2003.) And yet, we're considered the most intelligent and most highly developed species. How many horses were killed by other horses last year?
My philosophy is that you don't not need to like me. Nor do you even have to respect me but you can not touch or harm me. That's pretty basic. The respect would be nice but hell, I'm giving that one away as a freebie. Just don' hurt or kill me is all I'm asking. Think of the effect this credo would have on the Middle East situation. I'm not even suggesting that the Israelis and Palestinians share the Strip and the 1950 Armistice Line blow away with a desert wind although, in my wildest dreams that's exactly what would happen. They too have pigeons and horses in Gaza. Don't they see how they get along?
Thousands of miles away from the fighting in Iraq, Israel and oops, I forgot, Darfur, is the place where you live and work. How much tolerance and sharing takes place there? Are you lifting your head up to see what the 'pigeons' need? Do you tolerate those that you may not understand or like? The Bucket is very large and there's enough inside for everyone. Go ahead, show the animal world that you really are the smartest species around and share.