This is an essay I wrote in 2014
Rehabilitated Prison – Animal Telepathy and the Cage Breaker
I've been a lover of all critters since I can remember. I've always assumed that everyone is. I mean, how can you NOT be a lover of life on Earth? We are blessed with the most remarkable siblings to share the planet with. Oh sure, some have stingers, scales, claws and might even eat you but who are we to judge? Humans are worse than all that because we lie. And are we not the only species on Earth who goes out of our way to abduct, cage and exploit other species including our own?
The first memory I have of animal telepathy and being able to understand the emotions of other beings was at a carnival in New Jersey. I must have been at least 4 or 5 years old so it was 1973 or 1974, long before P.E.T.A. My father took me to a fair where there was an old train car painted with a mean and nasty alligator. The signs on it read, "giant man eating gator". There was a line into the box car that we stood in. I was absolutely horrified by what I saw inside. It broke my heart and I've never forgotten it. The man eating gator was displayed in an ice cream cooler. She had no room to move, literally. She was soaking in her own excrement and covered with pennies and nickles as if people were making wishes on her. I stood over her and knew how she felt. She was depressed; completely miserable and barely alive. She had completely given up and was hoping for death. I got a glimpse of her being captured from the wild and the fight she put up. She was missing a hand and I knew she had lost it in her fight. I cried. I asked my dad if we could take her home and put her in our pond. As I looked up at him he too was crying as he gazed in horror at this pathetic sight. He said something to the man collecting money but I don't know what it was. His tone was angry and we left abruptly from the box car.
When I was about 9 years old I frequently wandered the isles of our local Woolworth. Having spent the first 8 years of my life in the country on a commune, living within walking distance of gumball machines was fabulous. I bought my first roller skates in that store and supplied myself with endless 45's of the latest music for my record player. The most intriguing part of the store was their pet department. There were rows and rows of cages with little birds swinging on swings, hamsters rattling their bars and guinea pigs depressed in the corners of their cells. I could feel their pain and anxiety. I could hear their thoughts. It broke my heart. At first most were either desperate to tell me, "FREE ME, FREE ME" or sullen and distrusting of my kind. I thought long and hard about those prisoners. If I were to free them, they could get killed in the store and I could get in big trouble. But if they were to stay in those cages their suffering and sorrow would kill them slowly. What's worse? Dying a slow and painful death behind bars in complete boredom and loneliness or taking your chances making it to the automatic doors? Would those hamsters rather be prey or spend an unnatural amount of time locked up? I pondered this thought for days with little voices and fury faces saying, "free me, free me".
Like most epiphanies in our lives we can expect a catalyst to kick us in the pants; to light that bulb of understanding over our heads. I was in fifth grade at Henry Tompkins Elementary School in Ithaca New York circa 1979. It had to have been the same week of the Woolworth critter communion where our teacher introduced a fetal pig to the classroom. There in a jar, floating in it's own chemical rot was the cutest most pathetic looking baby I had ever seen. "Why?" I asked. "To study" she said. I thought to myself, "why does it need to be dead in order to study it?" Then I thought of the hamsters rattling their bars at Woolworth; we study them and I was sure they'd rather be dead than caged or free, even if for a short time their freedom meant scampering though the isles and breaking into bird seed and potato chip bags at night while no one was looking. Surely they'd rather be free.
So being a good hippy in the 70's, my teacher turned the lights out and started the over head projector with a movie that changed my life forever.
I believe the movie was called, "Say Goodbye" but have not been able to find it anywhere. It was a movie about species extinction and environmental decline. The footage was disturbing to me and I cried all the way through it. There was images of baby harp seals being beaten and skinned in front of their mothers, prairie dogs being sniper-ed and blown up, wolves being shot from the air, whales being harpooned, dolphins drowning in fishing nets. The list goes on. It was horrifying. I was so angry with myself for being human. I could not understand why anyone could be so cruel to creatures who only want to live and be free. I asked, is that necessary? None of those critters on the screen who were being violated in every sense of the word where doing anything to hurt humanity yet we imposed our self appointed superiority on them. Prairie dog holes break the ankles of cattle we're raising to eat. Whales are a delicacy in Japan. Rich whorebags like to wear dead baby seals. Are these pathetic excuses for such cruelty? How do our wants, needs and desires outweigh the needs and natural rights of others?
During the movie, I became a complete mess and had to leave the classroom. I left the school and walked to Woolworth. I could hear the birds starting to get excited, like they knew I was coming. They knew my intentions, and according to the research of Cleve Backster; they did know my intentions, the moment I had them. I went right to the pet isle and started opening every cage. Below the birds were the hamsters and other little rodents, who all came forward, holding their bars to watch what I was doing. Every single one of the birds jumped to the door, sat and looked at me, then tweeted and flew off into the store. I felt a huge relief and a sense of joy I had never felt before. I was so happy for them. I remembered that gator in the ice cream cooler - this was for her.
The rodents weren't as quick to take their parole but in fear of being caught, I left their doors open and walked away. There was a little blue parakeet who followed me through the store. I told him - in my mind- that it was too cold for him to go outside right now. He should wait till spring. Wait for the forsythia to bloom, I said to him.
I was still worried about the fact that by freeing them, they had a better chance of dying out in the real world. But I knew, I was absolutely positive that they would rather take their chances in the wild then spend their lives in cages being stared at by humans.
I went back to Woolworth everyday to check on them. Most of the birds had not been caught but the cages were full again with new arrivals. This created a dilemma in my mind; that by freeing all the critters that day, I caused the store to order more. I inadvertently became part of the vicious cycle of animal pet store entitlements. I felt defeated and helpless. Just as I could do nothing to ease the pain and suffering of baby harp seals or the sorrow their mothers felt watching them bludgeoned to death, I could do nothing about the cycle of pet store prisons.
I saw the blue parakeet who was very happy to be living free in the huge store. He followed me as I walked through the store. I couldn't stop the flow of critter trafficking or ease the pain of the lonely Guinea pig but that blue parakeet was saved and there were many others. He was grateful. On top of the big store shelf there was a huge bag of bird seed that had been purged. Several birds were there, eating freely. Blue parakeet accompanied me to the record department where I bought two 45's, Rapture by Blondie and Heart Ache Tonight by the Eagles. I remember being curious about the fact that no one in the store seemed to mind or know there were about a dozen free birds loving life in a busted open bag of bird seed in the pet department, out of sight.
I won't go into detail on every cage breaking event of my life but let me just tell you that I've freed many critters from their prisons. The critters know me as a "cage breaker".
I've never sought zoos or circus' to visit and have always understood that raging elephant. I know why they go on rampages. For someone not to know is absolutely ridiculous. We're in the midst of a "war on terrorism" because people supposedly hate us enough to kill us. Do elephants feel the same way? Do they hate us enough for what we're doing to Earth to storm the street and kill us? We see people kirk out when they're taken from their families,locked up and forced to do hard labor. We see people break free from prison to go home and be with their loved ones. Why are we amazed when animals do this? Our egocentric fascination with how superior we think we are has been our demise and in our face for decades if not centuries. Our time is running out. We will not be able to hide behind our self appointed entitlements of human superiority much longer.
If one were to study the Cleve Backster effect on plant telepathy and the physics behind our intentions we could easily understand that all life is connected. We'd easily understand the wants needs and desires of all the life we share this planet with because it's literally the same stuff we want as humans. Clean air, water and food, safety and comfort for our families and to be free. It's really pretty simple; humans call it common sense. So why then do humans feel so grossly entitled to exploit each other and every living thing on earth? When we break free from our dysfunctional personalities that have been conditioned to believe that we are the superior species on Earth - caging, slaughtering and consuming everything in our paths as we wish, we become in awe of our own stupidity. Or at least I have.
So, let me get to the reason why I decided to blog about this subject today. Yesterday I took my daughter to The Vermont Institute of Natural Science. This a beautiful sanctuary of 47 acres on the Outtaquechee River in central Vermont. The people working here have the best intentions for the rescues they perform and for the animals that live there. I know this. They house many birds of prey who have been deemed, "unable to survive in the wild" for a variety of reasons. Is this not human judgment and projection? How exactly do we know they cannot survive in the wild? And who are we to decide they don't want to die free?
As I walked through the facility that housed the enclosures for the "rehabilitated" birds who could not return to the wild I grew disturbed as I tuned into them. Being an animal empath I could not help but feel their sorrow. It should not take an "empath" to understand the sorrow these sentient beings have. Most of the birds who were serving their life sentences were perched high up in their cells looking somberly out over the 47 acres of "sanctuary" supposedly provided for their rehabilitation. The lone snowy owl sat on the ground with her back to the walkway. I stood and tuned into her. She turned to me with her eyes half open. I felt her dread. Her sorrow. Her body was healed but her heart was dying.
Who are we to decide how these beings are to spend the rest of their lives? If they were fairly asked and understood would we still be willing to keep them locked up or allow them the opportunity to be free in the wild? Or are we serving our own needs by keeping them prisoner? If I were the bald eagle with half a wing I would certainly appreciate the help of rehabilitation and the nursing me back to health but what the fuck humans,
"Let me go! You got 47 acres of refuge here and a huge enclosure with doors. Let me out and if I need too, I'll come back. If I don't survive then at least I was free and went back to the Earth naturally not prolonged and alone in a cage staring at my shit on the wall. I know your intentions are good but are you really just driven by your ego and the pursuit of grant money and economy? Does your "research" trump my life? Is that why you keep me here? So people will pay 20 bucks to watch me suffer? I already have suffered enough. I lost half a wing because some asshole hit me with their car. I lost my family, who I could have made it home to and died peacefully with them at my side but you took me with your self appointed human entitlements. You "helped" me and healed me and for that I thank you but you've held me as a prisoner against my will. You say I can't survive in the wild which is a lie. How the FUCK do you know this? I will survive as long as I could if I had both wings. Perhaps I'd even adapt to fending for myself in other ways, similar to how you would. Perhaps my family would adapt to my condition and take care of me. When one of you loses an arm, do you lock them up and deny them the opportunity to provide for themselves? Are they expected to be permanently denied their freedom? Their family's? Their wild nature? What will it take for you to understand that we would rather be free and die in the woods than be caged forever in this stinking enclosure?"
And we humans wonder why elephants stamp out their "trainers" and why mother bile bears kill their babies then commit suicide. We would do the same thing. Nothing on Earth wants to be caged and forced to live a life in captivity. I am absolutely positive of this. And the pain and suffering we cause other species with our egoic sense of entitlement ripples through the Universe effecting all life. It's no wonder we're faced with our own demise.
Regardless of our human intentions and how we think we're saving species from extinction, we're the main contributing factor to species extinction. We are a parasite on Earth. Imagine how all species would prosper if humans were not here. Yes, of course there are many wonderful people striving and fighting for what's right, who dedicate their lives to saving the Planet that we've so completely set forth to ruin. Whether intentionally or inadvertently our behavior on Earth has certainly been unconscious and it's my belief that our Human Entitlement Program is set to expire.
The next time you go to a zoo or a refuge where animals are locked up, ask yourself; would you rather take your chances in the wild exercising your freedom or would you rather be locked up, have your food prepared for you, get all your vaccines and never see your family or neighborhood again?
Yesterday, as I walked through the enclosure area of the VINS facility and spent time with each of the birds, I asked for their forgiveness. They know I am a "cage breaker". I tried to help them understand that I can't break them out. Because then I'd be caged. Then I'd be no good to anyone. I told them that I know they're ready to go back home and I'm sorry for my kind's ignorance and selfishness. We do try. There are many of us who try to do the right thing but for some reason we're unable to be in complete synchronicity with the natural needs of the planet. I hope and pray that we will someday.
If you wouldn't like sitting in a cage all your life, chances are that parakeet doesn't either. If you'd hate being chained around the neck to spend your life in the parameters of your shit piles, chances are that dog doesn't either. If you don't like your family being sprayed with poisons and chopped down, chances are that wasps nest hates you. If you wouldn't like being dragged from your swamp to spend your life in a fucking ice cream cooler, chances are that gator wouldn't either.
Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.
This means all life.
It's really that simple.