My “I’m so Damn Sick of Deer Hunting Season” post ~climbing off my soap box now~
Since I am a Minneapolis native I, of course, have a lot of FB friends and family in Minnesota, and, as much as I love them, I dread my news feed during hunting season. Not to say they’re all hunters, the majority aren’t, but there’s a chunk in there and I do a fair amount of cringing and quickly scrolling over certain posts. Because seeing all the “rah rah hunting!” stuff makes me equal parts sad and pissed off.
I think I’ve just seen one too many smiling faces over dead deer over the past few days and I’ve got a question–why? What joy is found in killing a living creature? I just don’t get it. And some of the people I know who hunt are otherwise incredibly kind and compassionate people. I get that there are people who see a hierarchy on this earth–with humans on the top (by the way, we’re doing a pretty shit job of being alpha, IMO). Even so, why? We know, beyond a doubt, that the animals who are hunted feel pain, terror, joy, a desire to live. So why cause that kind of suffering? This is head scratching for me, I simply do not understand.
Even more, I don’t understand encouraging children to hunt and kill. Why? A lesson we’ve taught our kids is that every life matters, down to the smallest. I’ve seen them carefully pluck worms off a hot sidewalk and deposit them on cool grass, rescue snails from the street, shoo a spider outside (or, in our daughter’s case for many years, run screaming for someone else to shoo a spider outside and, ahem, I don’t know where she learned that habit from). When our oldest was five (maybe six) and we were living in Guinea, he saw classmates throwing stones at some stray kittens on the edge of their school playground and he yelled at them to stop, but they didn’t. So he marched himself over to the office of the director of the school and told him what was going on, the director put a stop to it. I was proud of him, not only for doing the compassionate and kind thing but for going up against his peers in order to do it. I can’t imagine telling my kids that we were going to go out and kill an animal for fun. To find joy in intentionally ending a life? Why? I keep asking it because I just don’t understand. Part of me wishes that I did because maybe then I wouldn’t be so angry about it, part of me is happy that I don’t because, ultimately, I think it’s something that probably cannot really be rationalized. I know all the “reasons” for hunting–spending time in nature (you can do that without killing anyone), food (you can buy that and you don’t even really need to make one of those purchases meat, and let’s not get in to the subject of slaughterhouses), spending time with family (ditto to reason #1), keeping deer population down (a healthy and balanced ecosystem could go a long way to doing that). I’ve heard all the “reasons” but what they sound like are excuses because they’re all, really, false fronts since none of them actually requires killing animals.
One of the people in my life who has always been against hunting, and who helped to form the way I think about animals, is my grandfather, my Da, who was a veteran of both WWII and Korea. For Da, harming an animal was unthinkable. And this was a man who was raised in the South, who spent a nice chunk of time in foster care with a farmer who was very cruel to him. Had he wanted to he could have found a pretty solid list of “reasons” for why hunting and killing animals is acceptable–instead he went in the opposite direction. I’m sure a lot of it is because, having seen so much death and blood in combat, the thought of intentionally taking a life, of intentionally causing pain and suffering, was repulsive to him. It’s not something you do for fun, it’s something you do as a last resort when all other options are gone and life hangs in the balance, even then there is no joy to be found in it. In our family we file Da’s feelings about hunting in our “Why Da is a Hero” file. The thought of one of my children intentionally harming an animal, and finding joy in it, turns my stomach. So, why? Why is this something that is taught to children? Why is it seen as acceptable? Why does it bring joy? And I’m not asking this question so I can scream someone down, I just don’t understand because when I see pictures like this:
it makes me ill. I can’t imagine teaching my child to find joy in killing. So, why?