It’s a fact, Jack—but is it?
I often tell people I love the Internet. It is a useful and powerful resource. It offers endless opportunities for gathering information, thought-provoking commentary, and communication. It’s shortcomings? It offers endless opportunity for misinformation, evil/harmful commentary, and avoidance of human connectivity. I currently have two blogs: Valentine Pierce Designs (
), my newest blog, which focuses on graphic design, and Poet Sense and Sensibilities (
). This one is me commenting, sharing, journaling. Sometimes I write things that could be construed as fact so generally I try to check my facts. One time, though, a reader hipped me to an error. I thanked her and reminded myself that I am usually better than that and should be better than that because I am the first one to attempt to verify everything. “Is that true,” I’ll ask? “I’ll have to do some research on that.” As a journalist with more time under my belt than I sometimes care to admit, I should have checked my facts. Even without the journalism background, I need to speak what I know and learn what I don’t.
Another reader checked me on my comment about creative nonfiction. Frankly, I was intrigued that he had read my blog. I guess I was spouting at the time—primarily as a dig against Blakely (
) who totally ticked me off and because the phrase doesn’t work for me. I tried to clarify that in my response to his comment. Truth is, I probably should have been clearer in my blog that my history causes me to look askew at such a category; his history probably makes him look askew at things I consider normal.
Where is all this going? Well, it’s going in circles, the ones we create when we repeat without investigating. Some of it is funny, like a comment I read about “’round away’ girls.” It was by what I would call a youngster because I am now of that age where people seem like youngsters to me. My age also informs me and I know the phrase is “round-the-way.” In one of my blogs (
) I noted how someone “seize to be amazed.” They mixed up Carpe Diem—seize the day—and cease to be amazed. But what really got me riding on this train is the Times-Picayune article (
) about a “killer whale.” For me, the news article is only part of the story. The real story is in the comments—as it always is. People just spout their thoughts without thinking twice. Few know that Orca, disaffectionately known as killer whales, are actually dolphins and were, at one time, known as whale killers because they do hunt in groups and can take down animals larger than themselves. Somewhere in time the phrase was turned and the animals were marked. The truth is, like most dolphins, murder is the last thing they do. Why this one killed a trainer and why have others attacked/killed trainers? We need to really think about this. In just a quick search I learned that they die three times as much in captivity as in the wild, that they don’t do well in captivity, that they live in family units or pods for generations, that they can travel 50 to 100 miles a day. No way they can live their normal dolphin lives in captivity. Local and national newscasters called Orca dolphins whales, too, as well as many Internet news sites. This goes to show how we sometimes tend to repeat what we hear without checking the facts.
The other branch to this is how Orca and other animals have been marked as violent, dangerous, killers by humans because they reject what humans are doing to them and their environments.
Yet another story I know is the African elephant in a circus that killed his trainer. Think about how you would act if you were taken thousands of miles from home, had your legs chained so you would learn to make those tiny steps necessary to walk around a ring, and penned when you were supposed to be roaming in the wild?
At this point you are probably thinking, well this is surely the long way around. I agree but we do live in a big circle, so big that we sometimes can’t see how everything is connected and how everything we do or say impacts that circle, most times negatively.
What am I getting to? We are quick to judge—people, animals, situations we know nothing about. We act/speak first, think later. We don’t look past the surface. The animal killed the human, that’s all we know. We don’t know why; we aren’t inclined to take the animal’s side in all this. Not that I don’t mourn for the trainer and her family. That, indeed, is quite sad. The thing is, I also mourn for the animal and all animals that are imprisoned merely to entertain humans.
As well, I am more inclined toward the Paul Harvey approach. Before speaking, considering getting the rest of the story, the whole story, the truth and nothing but, as they would say on Perry Mason. And even be careful with “the truth” because some truths are lies other people tell us are true. We need to find the truth from as many sources as we can or at least try to speak with more caution. Don’t just blurt out the first thing that pops into our heads and don’t repeat what we don’t know. Huh? And, we need to do something about what happens to these animals in these parks, zoos, and those encampments where they are hunted merely for sport. And, we need to take a closer look—at ourselves.
Valentine is a gifted local poet who’s book, Geometry of the Heart, is a must-have in any self-respecting New Orleans poetry-lovers library. She’s been know to read her original poetry locally at The Maple Leaf and The Goldmine as well as numerous out-of-town venues.
Related posts can be found here.