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25 March 2000 Issue
Of Animal And Men

by Jan Skacel

Dear friends, you have asked me for a piece on animals. Please forgive me; I would like to help you, and I have been working with you for many years, but this is simply too much for me.

I mean that it is morally too much for me. It would be impudence on my part, as a mere human, to write about animals, natural and beautiful creatures who refuse to wage wars, to rob, to lie and to bear illegitimate children.

It's just a pity that animals cannot write. It would be interesting to see what they'd write about us humans (that is, if the printers would dare to print it). But why would a cow, ant or nightingale do such a thing? They've got more important things at hand. The birds, for example, start singing at dawn. People can't manage that.

But now that I'm writing, I cannot conceal my regret that animals are inexorably repressed by people. It's a sign of the decline of mankind. I have heard an urban child visiting the country for the first time asks why cows have gloves between their legs. This child had been to the zoo to see a tiger, a Przewalski's horse, and iguana and an elephant, yet at age nine, he was frightened when he saw a goat.

Formerly, people rode on horses. But that was also an injustice: I cannot understand why a being as imperfect and, on the whole, as ugly as a human has the right to sit on the back of a being as beautiful and delicate as a horse. It should be the other way round, but the human is too feeble to carry the horse. To make up for this inferiority, we invented metal animals that stink [and] are called cars.

Even a flea is more intelligent than a human. A certain biologist and flea specialist swore that a flea could find the single spot on the human body -- between the shoulder blades where even a circus acrobat cannot scratch.

Forgive me, dear friends, for this indignant tone. I'm sure you understand. I shall end. I'm sorry I cannot respond to your sincere request.

Let me, in conclusion, add one more proof of the superiority of the animal kingdom over the kingdom of man; animals cannot speak or print newspaper, they don't have radio, and instead of the television, they look at the beautiful world of God.

******

Jan Skacel (1922-1989), a Czech poet and writer, was harassed by the communist regime and allowed to publish only occasionally toward the end of his life. This collection of short stories of which this article forms a part was published only after the regime had collapsed.

Source: sumathi@kline.com.sg (KSPADM - Sumathi)

 

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