« One hour into grading... | Main | Swamped... »

June 16, 2006


Chris Clarke

Thanks for the good word, Hugo.

I'm still utterly puzzled over Stentor's analysis, however. The squirrel I found was not necessarily there as part of a "disaster." For all I knew, I had interrupted the meal of a raven or a coyote, and I like ravens and coyotes quite a bit. Unless you're willing to include "lunch" as a subcategory of "disaster," Stentor's analysis was way off.

As was his analysis of my motives. My act — or "inact" — was not at all a decision to step aside based on some high-minded principle of human non-involvement. I've rescued injured wild animals in the past and I almost certainly will again. Catted birds, I help without hesitation. Seals with six-pack rings entangled or deer caught in the barbed wire, certainly.

But there I had a choice between acting and not, and I did not know which course of action would cause the least hurt. I could have helped the squirrel, at the cost of depriving another animal of a meal to which it had every right and adding to the pressure on native squirrel species that the fox squirrels displace on Mount Diablo. Or I could have walked away, consigning the baby to probable death and yet avoiding causing additional harm to another wild animal, for whom that baby squirrel could well have meant the difference between life and death as well.

I chose the simpler course. I would not criticise anyone who took the other course. But my act was a rejection of the anthropocentric desire to help out of humane sentiment despite my ingorance of that gesture's true effects, and I have to admit it rankled to see Stentor apply such a silly and superficial analysis to what I wrote.


I just started reading Chris' blog regularly, so I'll have to catch up on this issue. I do agree with what he wrote above, though. Ravens and coyotes have to eat too. But if I can clearly tell that the calamity occurred as a result of a human act, I won't hesitate to step in. (And admittedly, sometimes I'll act when it's merely a strong likelihood.)

This post is timely for me, as I've been blogging recently about some baby skunks that my sister's ex has rescued. Their mother was killed on the road outside his workplace. I suppose it's that time of year.


Chris: My apologies for attributing the argument I was attacking to you. I freely admit that I don't "get" poetry, so my post relied on Hugo's interpretation of your poem. I gather from Hugo's reactions that I have correctly read his interpretation of the poem.

And Hugo, what have I told you about worrying about the status of your credentials? ;^) In any event, the intervention/nonintervention question is a matter of debate within environmentalism, not a reason to judge some people as insufficiently environmentalist.


Also, Blogger did some wonky things to my archives, so the proper link to my post is: http://www.brunchma.com/~acsumama/blog/archive/2006_05_21_oldblog.html#114852476676861923

Chris Clarke

In any event, the intervention/nonintervention question is a matter of debate within environmentalism, not a reason to judge some people as insufficiently environmentalist.



Thanks for the updated link, Stentor -- and for the clarification of your argument and Chris's. I'm not at all sure that any of us are at cross-purposes here.

Douglas, Friend of Osho

In other words, Chris Clarke understands the difference between compassion and pity, which is all to his credit. I'd have left the squirrel, too.


Your timing is eerie :)

Just this morning, I heard loud peeping just outside my bedroom door and realized it was coming from the trapdoor to the attic. Now, I've got enough nests in the roof that I figure they're an essential part of the insulation, but this hasn't happened before. I slowly pulled the trapdoor down and the little guy fell out on me all of a sudden.

I think it was a starling, we get lots of starlings. Some pin feathers, eyes just starting to open, and surprisingly frisky. Took me a few minutes to find the most likely nest -- under the eaves, near a bit of daylight and making more peeping noises -- and put him back as best I could through the space he probably fell out by.

Meanwhile, the cats were complaining that they couldn't get up the ladder to help. :)

Thanks for giving me a chance to tell the story. I don't have a lot of people that I could tell it to.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Regular reads

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 01/2004