Misanthropy and Why I’m Done with It

madame-frederic-reiset-born-augustine-modest-hortense-reiset-and-her-daughter-theres-hortense.jpg!xlMedium

Have any of you suffered through a three week flu? It’s awful, isn’t it? But there is a bright side. Everything I do is in slow motion so I’ve actually spent more time with my humans and animals–especially my animals who love sick naps.

Today I was amused to find that growing lettuce, eggplant or cucumbers is more damaging to the environment than raising pigs or cows. Getting  veggies to market and onto our plates consumes a tremendous amount of energy, it turns out (according to scientists) and I’m not surprised having worked on a few organic farms, but I know where this always leads.

charles-hayard-and-his-daughter-marguerite.jpg!xlMediumI was once a misanthrope. How could I not be? I went to public school and watched PBS. It didn’t take a genius to see that as a white  girl I was personally responsible for pollution, slavery, genocide and the deaths of baby harp seals. I stopped eating meat as many a white girl has done to distance herself from all evil. The moral high ground of starving oneself is a great thing for one’s self esteem until your body gives out and you realize you really don’t want to die. It is then that I realized that my idealized love for animals actually made me wish for the deaths of other humans. Humans I didn’t know. Humans out there who polluted.

Have you heard of the Georgia Guidestones? They are stones in the middle of nowhere calling for a mass reduction in humans. Scary.

edmond-ramel-and-his-wife-born-irma-donbernard.jpg!xlMediumI re-grouped after the doctors forced me to eat hamburgers and researched my family tree looking for Indian killers and corporate evil-doers. All I found were men and women who wanted to be free. They intermarried with Indians, fought against tyranny, worked for oppressive bosses at age six and died in the fight against slavery.

Outside the classroom of my youth and when I was hospitalized for a serious condition that wouldn’t have materialized if I hadn’t hated humanity and loved fuzzy animals, I was amazed to discover that all around me were humans with the capacity for good. Of course I always knew my family members were basically good (though misguided for eating meat), but there were others! In the world beyond! Doctors and nurses, scientists and hunters. Activists and skeptics.

madame-jean-auguste-dominique-ingres-born-madeleine-chapelle-ii.jpg!xlMediumFor a while I watched nature films. You know the ones showing a crocodile killing unsuspecting little Bambi. The I got a small farm. I’ve watched ducks brutally kill other ducks for no apparent reason. I’ve seen the aftermath of a fox killing frenzy. I’m pretty sure the fox didn’t pray over his prey.

So eating lettuce is now bad for the environment. Huh. Maybe we don’t get to live in Utopia. Yet as I sit at my laptop reading about misanthropes and cucumbers, I smile. I love western civilization even with its faults. I love its art, its music, its cinema. I like insulation in winter and an air-conditioned hospital room when I’ve eaten nothing but lettuce for weeks. I like napping with dogs (it’s what dogs do best), but I LOVE writing novels and reading blog posts and obsessing over Christmas gifts for people–yes those crazy characters who occasionally tell really good jokes (my dogs can’t do that).

I love loving people no one loves. So I can’t be a misanthrope.

FAMOUS MISANTHROPES

** DRAWINGS by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

29 thoughts on “Misanthropy and Why I’m Done with It

  1. I read the link in para 2. If shop lettuce was like the Little Gem variety that my dad grew I would eat it.
    I loved your description of yourself as a teenager! Interestingly, though England was responsible for a large chunk of the slave trade I never found anyone who felt any guilt whatsoever.

    So I wanted a word for your new state!
    anthrope
    anthrophile
    anthrophilia
    The net was unhelpful!

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    • I like anthrophile 🙂

      Store bought lettuce s nothing like home-grown. Same hold true for salad dressing. What would you rather–a hunk of meat or an eggplant?

      It doesn’t really make sense to feel guilt for something you didn’t personally do. Everyone’s ancestors can probably be traced to barbarous acts anyway.

      Thanks for the new word!

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  2. Oh, my goodness, you’ve been sick a long time. I hope you are really starting to feel better now! Very interesting philosophy you’ve set out here. I recently had a “snapping to” of a part of my philosophy, if that makes sense. (No, it doesn’t? I’m not surprised). I have always had a soft spot for animals and have spent time and money on various organizations dedicated to their welfare. I have supported PETA just because they are so radical that I figure they accomplish a lot by shifting thinking. But when I discovered that their philosophy leads them to euthanize animals at their shelter and why, I realized I couldn’t condone that. Their philosophy means that to pass on these animals to human caretakers means that they are participating in a continuation of the pet overpopulation problems. But I think that we have a terrible human overpopulation problem. If it’s ok to euthanize homeless pets for being homeless, why isn’t it the same to euthanize homeless people for being homeless? If you think of it that way, you can see how terrible it is that they kill innocent animals that happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time meeting the wrong people.

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    • Yes, that info about PETA was chilling to me too. There’s a lack of reality to some of this thinking–a utopian ideal that leads directly into a scary dystopia.

      I read somewhere that all the people on earth could comfortably live in a place the size of Texas. The problem being more one of mismanagement of resources by corrupt governments.

      When I went to Nicaragua we had to sneak in used clothes to donate directly to people because if we went through the govt the people would never see the clothes or the money donated.

      Back to PETA it reminds me of the eugenics movement as well. Killing people and animals for the greater good never goes well. Now I’ll think about those poor cats and dogs all day. ;(

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  3. Gosh, it’s hard not to be a misanthrope these days. I admire you for your transformation. Maybe if I read more about cucumbers and less about what human beings are up to, I could follow in your footsteps!

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    • No. Cucumbers can be quite evil (and difficult to grow). Stay far away from cucumbers.

      One of the West’s problems is an obsession with problem solving. This has its good and bad sides. But while I see bad people on the news I hardly know a soul who’s involved in anything nefarious–except maybe my brother . . . lol.

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      • Ha! You’re right. I never grew a benign cucumber. It’s the devil’s fare.

        I don’t see a lot of nefarious stuff either, but I do see a lot of discourteous stuff and a lot of obliviousness. It’d be nice if people would look up from their smartphones now and then… 😤

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      • I don’t have a cell phone. I think I could get easily sucked in to texting. I do see a lot of obliviousness. Now that I live in Upstate NY I rarely have to deal with rude behavior. People up here love guns, ice cream and waving to strangers as they drive by. 🙂

        When I was in the hospital there were 2 doctors with big egos (imagine that) who fought over who could draw blood better from me since I have small veins. Once they realized how insensitive they were being yanking my arms and pricking me with needles they stood back aghast at their own behavior and were very kind and apologetic. I’d never been in a helpless state before so it was all very interesting and humbling to discover how genuinely kind the hospital staff was. I know they were getting paid, but they went above and beyond (as did my family and friends).

        I on the other hand get very self absorbed and even get cranky with my dogs.

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      • Hey, no cell here either. The enlightened ones!

        I live in a rural area too, and people are always waving at each other. We all seem to be in the same club, but I have the feeling we’d be at odds if we talked for more than five minutes.

        BTW, I hope your flu is loosening its grip by now. Time to get festive!

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      • Best not talk with people for more than five minutes then. 🙂

        Yeah, I have guests arriving in a few days so I have to get those Christmas cookies going!

        Hope you have a very festive time yourself.

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  4. I have been that little girl, too. And now I watch my sons (white males) struggle with the message that everything bad in the world is their fault. I suppose learning how to navigate that is just part of growing up. I hope you’re feeling better soon!

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  5. Once again you have written in a way I have never heard before! A white girl watching PBS?? Oh wow, but you know I exactly understand this and even though it is so different, it is powerful and filled with truth, so thank you. Amazing.

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  6. As Sarah said, a delightful post. Thank you always, Adrienne, for your prismatic wisdom, flashing light on unexpected angles of all of our pasts and presents, and for your discerning illustrations – the Ingres drawings are a piquant delight in themselves.

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  7. great fun and delightful drawings. As to being white, thus to blame for everything…..almost every nation or race has been screwed over by a bigger or meaner one. I’m American, but Irish from many generations ago. (My maiden name was O’Leary!) With a Methodist mother and Catholic father I couldn’t understand why the Irish were killing each other until I went there and saw the debtor prisons and the stolen Cathedrals and the contrast between the poverty of the Irish and the wealth of the English in Ireland. Our house was bombed in the 1950’s in Texas because my newspaper editor father supported a black woman for the school board. Skin color doesn’t make anyone bad or guilty, white or black.

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    • AGREED!! I’ve been reading a book of essays on Abraham Lincoln who I kind of always avoided thinking I already knew enough about him. 🙂

      The great thing about America (and the white men who founded it) is that people like Lincoln had the intellectual freedom to come to terms with how to deal with slavery. The notion of every human endowed by their creator with rights was already there (not so in some other places). The founders weren’t able to create utopia but they did put into words an ideal and within 100 years the ideal became a (flawed) reality.

      Having read the Bible through I can appreciate it for the way it shaped western thought–leading right up to the ending of slavery, the better treatment of women (how cool was Jesus to women?).

      I think we need to balance our history in the US. I’m fine with decrying villains, but wow did we also have a lot of heroes!

      I’ve been to Ireland too. (Maiden name O’Brien). My friend and I traveled to Belfast when the IRA etc were still active. We were young and brave and had a great time, but there was definitely a divide. My friend had a Dublin accent and I had my New Jersey “drawl.” It was funny because on the ground most people Catholic and protestant were friendly and curious about us. As you said there’s good and bad in everyone. 🙂

      You were bombed?! Scary. Your father was brave. What part of Texas?

      Like

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