Tuesday, March 1, 2011
"Familiarity Breeds Contempt" -- And Love
Most of us are cognizant of the saying, "Familiarity Breeds Contempt."
That is of course true, but familiarity also breeds love.
Love and hate often co-exist as opposite sides of the same coin.
And so it is, with the geese.
As animals who have learned to comfortably co-exist and live close to humans, (oftentimes even socializing and communicating with us), the geese seem to bring out either "love or contempt" in the people they have chosen to familiarize themselves with and live close to.
I happen to be fortunate in that I am allowed to keep pets in my Manhattan apartment. However, for many thousands of animal lovers in New York City (such as "Kali" the woman met a few nights ago at Harlem Meer), the option of keeping a cat or dog in their apartment does not exist and is forbidden by lease or co-op board.
There are quite easily, probably at least a million children and adults living in New York City who have little or no contact with animals or the natural world.
For many of these individuals and otherwise animal lovers, their only possible connection to animals and wildlife are the birds and other animals in public parks.
Why should these people be denied this important connection to the natural world simply because some in our culture seem to be "animalphobic?"
Sadly, there are many people who look at geese (and other animals) as "pests" that need to be "gotten rid of." Usually, these individuals either have not taken time to actually know and learn about geese -- or they have some kind of self-interest in painting the geese in a negative light, such as desire to hunt the birds or making money by killing them. (The latter might apply to some people working for USDA, since the governmental agency is paid to "cull" geese off private properties via contract with land owners.)
The charges against geese run from the defamatory and ridiculously absurd to somewhat legitimate concerns of maintaining cleanliness for human park users or containing a healthy population of geese.
The latter concerns do have peaceful and civilized solution. From paying young people or retirees to help keep avian-use areas clean, to oiling excess eggs in an area, to occasionally "shooing" geese away (usually with Border Collies) from popular lawn areas that people frequently use.
Personally speaking, I am not a fan of "harassment" techniques used on geese because I fail to see that we have any kind of "goose problem" in the areas I frequent (Central Park).
As said many times, geese are extremely independent and unpredictable in terms of where they go or how long they will stay in a particular area.
Many times, one can see as many as 100 geese in a location. Go back to that same location a day or even few hours later and there are hardly any geese at all.
Except when "molting" and incapable of flight or when raising young (usually around the same times as molting), the geese fly to and stay in different areas according to the time of year and even quite frequently, the time of day. They are like flighty lovers who are hard to reign in and pin down. One might easily imagine the goose motto as being, "Don't fence me in!"
For those of us who have come to know, admire, respect and even love these peaceful, whimsical creatures with whom we have become so "familiar" over time, the campaigns and charges against the geese are particularly painful.
Notice especially my comments to this particularly annoying Op-Ed from a Canadian newspaper advocating that the area geese should be killed and "cooked:"
I feel it important to challenge articles like these. The claim that those of us who care about protecting geese are a bunch of "emotional" Disney freaks needs to be shot down and cooked rather than the geese.
But, as troublesome as articles like these are, the truth is, they represent that side of the coin that spells "contempt" and they can portend very bad news for the geese.
In many ways, this is a battle for public opinion and perception. It is not a battle we can afford to lose if we care about ultimately protecting geese and other wildlife for future generations to enjoy.
For if we truly think about the phrase, "Familiarity Breeds Contempt" we realize that it often applies to those close human relationships with parents, children and even lovers and spouses.
And yet, would we dare want to go through life without them?
Familiarity breeds both contempt and love.
And God pity those going through a life of disconnection and isolation, without ever knowing the beauty of "familiarity" intimacy and love -- despite their costs.
That applies to our relationship with all of nature, (of which the geese are a part) as well as other humans. -- PCA