Dominion

In his book Trial And Error, Teodoro M. Locsin underscores the constancy of an author’s work as compared to memory. Writing is an ode to posterity, and calls to mind the three philosophical cornerstones of immortality: planting a tree, siring a child and writing a book. For the next six days, let me share with you some reflections kept throughout the years, conceptions of a passionate youth, landmarks along a contemplative pilgrimage. Man, we are told, is a rational animal. The possession of an intellect raises him from the ranks of beasts. Thus, man has dominion over the earth. He lives for higher purposes, not merely to exist, like animals, programmed only to obey instincts. Man lives, and dreams. But does a sparrow dream too? Shirley Jackson, in The Haunting Of Hill House, says that “No live organism can continue to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality, that larks and katydids are supposed by some, to dream.” Let us suppose that the creatures of the animal kingdom dreams. Does that make them equal to humans? What can a lion for instance, dream about? Does he dream about the wildebeest he just made breakfast? Does he dream that someday, he will be the leader of his herd? The King of the Beasts, the lion. Does he have, from time to time, delusions of grandeur? Does he fantasize of a rhino lunch or a gorilla snack? Saint Francis of Assisi was said to have communed with animals. Did he talk to the lion? Is a lion, fearsome creature that he is, subjects to the pangs of conscience? He kills that he may live. He lives, for his hunger is assuaged. But what about his prey? But that’s the law of nature, expressed primitively as the survival of the fittest. Is a rabbit less fit, compared to a cougar, to survive? But even the worms at the bottom of the food chain have some importance, of value, to the great scheme of things. A beast kills another. It’s survival, conforming to it’s role in the theater of nature. But does not a man kill for food too? From the feast’s roasted cattle to a can of tuna. Yes, he cooks them, one may argue, processes and manufactures them. Does it make him less of an animal? Man does not eat raw, not even cannibals in the Fiji Islands. Ah, but what about sashimi? But a man kills for pleasure too. From a boy’s first slingshot to a safari expedition. For adventure, for fortune. An elephant’s ivory tusks are piano keys, an alligators hide is a briefcase. A moose’s head. some presume, is a splendid decoration on the wall. Save the whales, goes the battle-cry. And why not, their numbers are dwindling. Soon to become in the future an extinct specie. The seas are dying and along with it, all aquatic flora and fauna. Man makes profit, but at what price? So then, does a man rise above the animals? Once upon a time, Icarus made wings for himself and flew, higher and higher, until the sun melted the wax in the wings and he plummeted to his death. Ah, but man made the airplane. And since then he has conquered the sky – in imitation of the condor. He has been to the moon and back. An eagle can only fly so much but it can never reach Mars. Can thus be said to be an argument for man’s superiority? Animals and men both kill, but men not only profits and thrives of these profits, they also create havoc and destruction the magnitude of which not even the King of the beasts, the lion has dreamed of. But then again, does a lion dream? Man alone, without the trappings of science, can never be as strong as a bear or as swift as the cheetah. But given his toys, he can obliterate all species on earth, including his own. Thus, man has dominion over the earth?

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