Wednesday, January 26, 2011

monkeying around

Just a brief blurb about something I saw at a food court a week or two ago and more so my feelings on the matter. This Chinese man had a pet monkey (I think a Gibbon, but unsure), dressed in human clothes, chained by it's neck to him. When I saw it, my stomach felt literally sick with disgust and hate for that's weird, the type of physiological response I had...literally felt an unbearable mix of disgust, depression, and adrenaline fueled anger at this guy for enslaving a monkey. But then I got to thinking about this. And it still sucks, it's still terrible, just that I find it so strange how my mind and body responded to a primate being chained up in this way, while dogs on leashes, cats in a purse, hamsters in cages, etc. get nothing in the ways of remorse in most cases. Actually they often get the opposite response, as in many case I and most other people would come up to pet a cute looking dog. You see you can always rationalize something like this, but I feel like the physiological response is the real tell of how we feel at our core, so to speak. All of our internal, hidden, biases come out. Or maybe it's just memories tied to emotionally charged experiences we have earlier in our lives.

So, does our body decide to react in this way based on evolutionary understanding? That monkeys are sort of evolutionary cousins (or maybe uncles, i really forget how it works) to us, while non-primate mammals are more like 3rd or 4th cousins...does our mind feel some sort of special remorse for monkeys based our own anthropomorphic fantasies? That because it peels a banana with its fingers and can learn how to use a currency system (Super Freakanomics) it must have some secrets to our own behavior and culture, meaning in some senses we are enslaving one of our own? And if that's the case you would think all mammals would get that remorse, with the whole breastfeeding business.
I wonder what percent of people would have a physiologically negative response to seeing what I saw or seeing any animal on a leash, and for those who respond in such a way, when is it programmed for us to react in such a way? When is remorse for other animals developed? Is it a learned reaction based on increased learning of our relationships to these primates?

Well, just some thoughts I've been having. Becoming aware of these feelings definitely made me feel guilty for how ok my body (though not my mind) is with seeing some animals on a leash, while others (I don't do so well at zoos unless I know the animal's population is being rehabilitated by the zoo after overhunting in the wild) produce such a strong response. This might sound like the weirdest thing to wish for, but sometimes I do wish i felt a guttural, physiological sickness at the sight of any any animal (and not just primates) that is somehow restrained/chained by people.

1 comment:

  1. The monkey was at the Funky Gibbon where I saw you..
    Such a great job Mike.Glad to see people like you put positive energy to the natural medicine.
    All the best for your research and have a pleasant stay in Borneo.

    saloma lisa