Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Thursday, August 19, 2004  

Humble Cow

A strange conviction came over me while observing a cow in Wyoming. We were taking a road that crosses over the Wind River Range (always loved that name - Wind River. How evocative.). It is a dirt circuit that takes you up into lush, high meadows of national forest between Pinedale and Dubois.

Signs warn that it is Bear Country, but we only saw cows and steers. We had observed elk, bison, antelope in Yellowstone and elsewhere, but here we saw bovines - black angus and herefords.

It is a marvelous thing to see the three, wild cud chewers mentioned above. They are beautiful whereas the lowly, domesticated cow seems too familiar for wonder or amazement.

Yet, a number of grazing cows blocked the road we traveled on from time to time, and as we slowly passed and they shied away, I could reach out and touch them. In the northern sunlight which often gives a kind of glow to objects amidst a darker atmosphere, one hereford startled me in his beauty. The curly haired white face and bright, clean, roan body struck me as beautiful - rich, lovely, and glossy. The body was powerful, compact, well muscled. He looked like the Platonic ideal of Steer, a living model.

I suddenly realized that this animal belonged on the land as much as any non-domesticated creature. That no elk, bison, or antelope was more important, beautiful, noble, or necessary than this humble cow.
And what is more, I realized in a deep sense, that all these creatures did not exist for their own sake, but for that of ours. They were food. They have no intrinsic value all of their own except that they are created by God for our pleasure.

Ask yourself, what is the purpose of an elk or buffalo? To live, reproduce, to eat and be food. And that is all. No human can say that about himself except in irony, since to deny purpose is to make the question inescapable and foremost. To say you have no purpose in living, is to acknowledge the concept itself and its human inherency. It’s like saying, I deny that I can think.

But the people of Wyoming are suffering from a variety of tyrannies which now control their state. The are forced (and fined) to endure the rapacity of grizzly and black bears attacking their stock, and their people by enviro Feds. They can hardly exploit their mineral resources of oil, coal, and natural gas without a raft of lawsuits impeding every income producing initiative.

I read a pamphlet on fishing regulations kept available at the tables in one restaurant. It was 8 x 11 and about a dozen pages covering every stream and lake in the state, each with its own special restrictions.

The joke in Jackson Hole (where Dick Cheney has a home as do many movie actors) is that the billionaires are driving out the millionaires. But what I saw was that any place where there is money and urbanized people in the state, there is a liberal tilt which quickly paralyzes the rights of rural property owners and sportsmen.

I had hoped to find Republican Wyoming, the Cowboy State, a great, last bastion of rugged individualists. Instead, I found a people cowed by threat of fines ($11,000 for shooting a grizzly bear mauling your child on Fed land is one story we heard from a museum docent), confiscation, and bureaucracies.

Whether the people of such states can ever regain control of their own destinies, their land, and their rights remains to be seen. One woman complained that their kids are being taught in school that the wildlife is more important than they are. This is a place where school districts are small and it would be easy to elect the supervisors you preferred. The onslaught of the liberals through the land in the primary institutions goes on unchecked. Judges, teachers, rangers - all alike in attitude and grasping for power.

So that no one will ever notice that a cow is as beautiful as a buffalo (and tastier) and that the land and all that is on it is for the good and use of man.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 1:04 PM |