An Eye for an Eye

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind ——Mahatma Gandhi

The next time someone does something perceived as wrong to you, instead of flying off the handle and thinking of ways to get even—which seems so popular an attitude these days, why not be different and try a positive response, instead? Talk to the person. Find out why they replied so negatively to you. Was it something you said that irritated the person? Is the person just having a bad day? In short, try to understand!

Humanity is comfortable in a no-change environment. Change causes uncomfortableness, and uncomfortableness causes irritation and short-temperateness in people.

The earth, and even our entire solar system, is going through a rapid transformation: an evolutionary ‘upgrade’[i] [ii] that is causing problems in our psych. It is in our nature to be more comfortable with the same-old, same-old, rather than experiencing change.[iii]

Fortunately—or unfortunately for some who elect to stay behind, this rapid change is necessary for evolution’s sake, both for us, for our planet, and our solar system as we prepare for this transformation. If we let our guard down during these changing times, it can become habitual to shut down reason, unharness the motions, attach these undisciplined emotions to our tongue and let fly, come what may!

A good example of letting our emotions rule over reason is evident in the recent “Defund the Police” marches. Yes, there are problems with police butality, especially in Black communities. But, can you imagine our society without police to protect us from the criminal minded? Practical reason is the answer to this social problem, not unbridled emotion!

Historically, protests have brought about much-needed changes in the way citizens are abused by those in power. The problem is, hidden within the grained victories of the protesters, are buried the injured innocents that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time while these protests took place. And correcting the wrongs suffered by the innocently injured can take generations to heal, especially if they are brushed aside or insufficiently dealt with.

Looted and damaged storefronts are one example of how an innocent person or business can suffer unfairly during a demonstration. Insurance, plus other costs and inconvenience caused by rioters, are only a minor example of what is wrong with this method of gaining justice by demonstrating against our perceived wrongs.

Lives are lost during riots. Between 1954 to 1968, 41 people were killed during the civil rights movement in the United States.[vi] And that’s just one small sample of human costs caused by riots, revolts, or disagreements.

Is there a more civilized, peaceful way of protesting for the oppressed to be heard? Yes, there is!

Non-violent protests are a far superior way to gain civil rights. This has been demonstrated through proven actions by famous leaders of peaceful protests like Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Te Whiti o Rangamati, Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and the list goes on.[vii] So, we see, peaceful resolutions to our social issue happen, and are possible! Best of all, they don’t cause injury or damage to the innocent.

If we are serious about going along with humanity maturing, we have to abandon violent solutions to our problems.

Rather than rioting to solve our injustices, we need to take greater advantage of our court system. Just like the rioting slogan, “Defund the Police” is concerned only with one aspect of the problem: police violence, court trials can present to an unbiased jury or judge both sides of the argument, resulting in a more satisfactory solution to a problem.

The sign of an intelligent nation is reason through controlled emotions by the application of reason – Mayra Mannes

We also have to think about our future and the future of our children. Will we give in to the rioters and hot-heads and let them stain the good name of humanity by allowing them to solve their issues through rioting and violence? Or will we leave our children a legacy of superior, more just, and binding laws that will leave a legacy of comfort to them that reason, not violence, is the better road to a happier life?

[i] Cosmic Evolution: an Interdisciplinary approach: https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~ejchaisson/cosmic_evolution/docs/fr_1/fr_1_site_summary.html

[ii] Cosmic Evolution by Eric J. Chaisson: https://www.physicscentral.com/explore/writers/chaisson.cfm

Lena M. ForsellJan A. Åström

[iv] Lemmings: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemming

[vi] Civil Rights Movement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Memorial#:~:text=The%20Civil%20Rights%20Memorial%20is,the%20Southern%20Poverty%20Law%20Center.

[vii] Leaders of non-violent protests: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolent_resistance

A Sunday Chat with Myself—”Accepting Cosmic Law: Cooperation, not competition”

“Minds are like flowers, they only open when the time is right.” ― Stephen Richards

Can we still—or could we ever—really have trusted science to deliver the truth to us? Next question: what is truth, and will I recognize truth when it’s presented to me?

I recall, in school history, reading all about the Flat Earth Society. Seems amusing to me now to think that some people did actually believe during the “four-corners-of-the-world” belief period, in a flat earth. In fact, there was a time in our history when a person could be burned at the stake if you believed otherwise!

But, to have believed in the Flat Earth theory, you would have had to be living in Galileo’s time and a common belief system.  Although, historically, and to be fair to real science, there never was a time when scholars ever considered the earth to be a flat disk. There was just too much evidence to the student of real knowledge to accept “Biblical proof” that the earth was flat.

There also was a time when opinion-of-the-day science—common belief science–could “prove” that objects heavier than air couldn’t fly. Fortunately, the Wright Brothers didn’t believe popular science, and they went on to invent the airplane.

“Our way of thinking creates good or bad outcomes.”  ― Stephen Richards

When I was in high school (circa 1940), our science teacher taught us that the smallest particle in the universe was the atom. Today, physicists are talking about protons, neutrons, and smaller stuff called quarks. And, to make things even “smaller,” physicists are now talking about the Super String Theory.

On the opposite end of the scale, how large is the universe? Ever-better telescopes, satellites and space probs are continuously setting farther boundaries to our universe. Could the day come when science has to admit that our universe is infinitely small, and at the same time, it’s infinitely large? And, even more interestingly, can physics and science ever deal with that infinity? How do we make laws—hypothesis, theories and postulations—when dealing with infinity?

And, before I leave this problem, there is one more of my favorite ‘scientific’ vexations that I’d like to address: Darwin’s theory of evolution! Just like physicists continuously have to “upgrade” their theories on matter and the universe, so, too, should the Darwinian theorists of evolution ‘upgrade’ their ‘facts.’ Especially with the new discoveries now made in human DNA, the evolutionary theory has taken some serious hits, and one of Darwin’s inaccurate theories that is of special annoyance to me, is his theory about the survival of the fittest. Admittedly, Darwin wasn’t the first to use the phrase, survival of the fittest, that honor goes to the English philosopher, Herbert Spencer. But Darwin certainly made it popular in his works, and popular science of the day carried it forward, and still maintains an iron clad hold on a disproven theory.

In the first place, popular science insists on ruling out any possibility of a divine force in Nature. According to them, to consider intelligence in a non-conscious universe is out of the question! Their view? Roll the dice. What you see is what you got! Personally, I think that way of thinking is so far off the mark it should have been taken out of our physics texts a long time ago!

“A thought is a Cosmic Order waiting to happen.”  ― Stephen Richards

No matter how hard you try, if you give a hundred monkeys a hundred typewriters, and in a hundred years they will still not have printed out an intelligent copy of the Gettysburg Address; unconsciousness cannot deliver in an orderly universe! therefore, although there is some truth to be gleaned from the survival of the fittest theory—the part that involves consciousness—an unconscious universe cannot produce order no more than rolling a pair of dice can give you a predicted, orderly result every time.

So much for truth theories in an unconscious universe. Let’s consider a conscious universe. A Conscious universe can pre-program a hundred monkeys so that they can, even in much less time than a hundred years, type out a copy of the Gettysburg Address. Secondly, using today’s technology, it takes no great feat of ‘magic’ to preprogram a pair of dice to roll, roll after roll, and give you the same results. And, how easy is it, using your computer keyboard, to type out anything that you want and have it displayed instantly on your monitor in a predicable, orderly fashion?

Sure, the information that appears on your computer monitor is, by itself, an unconscious manifestation, but it can only happen because of the conscious, orderly mind behind that monitor’s manifestation.

That brings me to my final argument against Darwin: it takes co-operation, not competition, to make our universe move forward! Competition can only work in selective instances, and usually involves just that: conscious selection within a species. For example, a feral cat can lose its natural instinct to hunt insects and mice for food after several thousand years of domestication, and eat only prepared meat and clean water, but it’s still a cat! It hasn’t evolved into a tiger or flying ‘fur-thing.’

An article in NewScientist, titled “Suicidal Cells,” explains intelligent selection very clearly. “When cooperation breaks down, the results can be disastrous. When cells in our bodies turn rogue, for instance, the result is cancer. So elaborate mechanisms have evolved to maintain cooperation and suppress selfishness, such as cellular “surveillance” programmes that trigger cell suicide if they start to turn cancerous.”

Advanced science understands this quite clearly; but popular mainstream, every day non-thinking science still has to catch up and this leads me to my main point that I’m wrestling with today: that cooperation, not blind unconscious is the “new truth!”

The same article in NewScientist continues, “the concept of the survival of the fittest could be used to justify socialism rather than laissez-faire capitalism. Then again, the success of social insects could be used to argue for totalitarianism. Which illustrates another point: it is nonsense to appeal to the “survival of the fittest” to justify any economic or political ideology, especially on the basis that it is “natural”.

Survival of the fittest is not a blanket truth that applies in all cases. Think Einstein, Gandhi, or Martin Luther King and compare them to war generals, greedy corporations and invasive aggression—survival of the fittest—although there is selective truth here, that truth needs “upgrading,” like so much of science also needs upgrading.

In order for us to survive and continue our struggle upwards where we can dream of one day being invited to join our galactic cousins, we really need to update our social sciences and bring them in line with cosmic law—and learn cooperation—then demonstrate this new-found knowledge, that we can be a valuable contributor to our universe.

Cooperation, with a healthy touch of intelligent, (not natural) selection is the New Truth!

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—the Pig

“I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.”  —Winston Churchill

If you’re like the average person on this planet, you haven’t spent much time wondering what animal will dominate the world once humanity has managed to destroy itself and leave our planet up for grabs for the next best host. In fact, I’ll bet that you haven’t spent even a minute wondering about that!

But, for the moment, let’s suppose that, last night, after you’ve exposed yourself to an hour’s worth of evening news with its threats and warnings and shortfalls about how we’re in danger of annihilating ourselves, you felt a sudden needed a break from all that negativity, so you stepped outside for a breath of fresh air and gaze up at the vastness of the night sky, with its Milky Way and the trillions of other stars winking and blinking back at you—and wondered—if mankind did manage to obliterate himself off the world, what animal would be next in line to step forward and take their opportunity at making the world a livable place, and hopefully, do a better job of stewardship than we did?

If you guessed the lowly pig, you’d be in the right top-ten pick. According to Weird Nature, the pig is seventh in line as being the smartest primate on earth! Pigs have been known to outsmart dogs and considered by many experts to be on equal footing with the Chimpanzee for intelligence.

A male pig is called a boar and a female is referred to as a sow. A group of young piglets is referred to as a drift, and an older group of pigs are called a sounder of swine.

I know, as you’re enjoying your second helping of barbequed pork chop, grilled to perfection on your newly purchased back yard barbeque, the intelligence of a pig isn’t exactly what’s on your mind during that epicurean moment. But, did you know that pigs are considered smarter than dogs?

“It’s when you live in a pigsty that the pigs start to complain about who they have to share with.” —Anthony T. Hincks

And did you also know that the popular belief “dirty as a pig,” is false? Pigs, if given half a chance, are among the cleanest of animals in nature. Weird Nature claims that a pig, even beginning with their young piglets, will refuse to defecate anywhere near the area where it lives or eats. That’s better cleanliness than many of our other domesticated animals!

Pigs are social animals, living complex lives, and readily learn from each other through observation. They will often try to “work to outsmart each other,” adds Weird Nature. Pigs can be trained to perform numerous functions and tricks, and just like a dog, have been used in stage performances to show off their learned talents.

In their eating habits, pigs can be classed as “opportunist omnivores.” In other words, they’ll generally eat what’s available. The diet of feral pigs is mostly plants and tubers, bulbs, mushrooms and even grass. Feral pigs will also steal eggs from ground nesting birds and will eat lizards and other non-mammals.  Farm pigs that are allowed to live a natural life feed mostly on corn, rice and wheat, or whatever the farmer has available for them.

Similar to dogs and a few other mammals, pigs love to play in mock fighting with each other, and are excellent at walking through mazes to claim their prize at the other end of the maze. They can even manipulate a joystick, or on-screen cursor similar to what chimpanzees can do.

So, the next time you bite down on that perfectly barbequed pork chop, give thanks to the intelligence that you are eating!

“Our difficulties in understanding or effectuating communication with other animals may rise from our reluctance to grasp unfamiliar ways of dealing with the world.” —Carl Sagan

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Pigeons

“I don’t mind being a symbol but I don’t want to become a monument. There are monuments all over the Parliament Buildings and I’ve seen what pigeons do to them.”  —Tommy Douglas

A few years ago, someone abandoned a pair—one male and one female—Mourning Doves in our neighborhood, and they found their way to my bird feeders. Without even a glance back, they set up shop near my feeders and, today, I have counted an estimate (they move around so much so that I can’t get an accurate count) three dozen Mourning Doves that visit my feeders and their nesting places have spread out to cover most of the area in our small, urban town!

My doves are bluish-grey in color and have a distinct black ring around their neck. Research says that there is a difference between a dove and a pigeon, but they share more in common than differences, and in the case of their intelligence, there is no difference.

Doves and pigeons have been raised as pets by humans for thousands of years and were widely used as subjects of sacrifice to appease the gods and were even employed as message carriers before government postal services replaced them. They are also considered a delicacy in the food isle. If you’re any kind of food connoisseur, you’ve eaten pigeon meat! And who hasn’t gone for a walk in the community park without a bag of popcorn to feed the pigeons?

On the other hand, they are also famous for ‘disgracing’ statues and other public monuments by pooping all over them and are referred to by many as “flying poop machines!” Some folk who really hate pigeons have even gone so far as to accuse them of being dirty and spreading disease. However, this has proven to be untrue. No evidence has been found where pigeons have been responsible for spreading disease, no worse than in any other clean, animal species, but, on the other hand, pigeons have been listed among the top ten species as having super intelligence!

“Pigeons are among the most maligned urban wildlife despite the fact that human beings brought them to our shores and turned them loose in our cities – not something that they chose.”  —Ingrid Newkirk

According to Dr. Becker, in her Healthy Pets, states, “In a classic test of basic intelligence known as the “string task,” pigeons selected the correct string (the one attached to food treats) up to 90 percent of the time. Even more remarkable? The pigeons aced the test “virtually” using a computer touch screen.” In other studies, pigeons have shown remarkable skills in being able to learn abstract mathematical rules. In fact, according to Dr. Becker, “[pigeons] are the only non-humans other than rhesus monkeys with [that] ability.”

In other studies, as reported in Science Daily, “Pigeons can remember large numbers of individual images for a long time, e.g. hundreds of images for periods of several years.” And “Pigeons can be taught relatively complex actions and response sequences and can learn to make responses in different sequences.”

And, who hasn’t heard of the Homing Pigeon with their unique ability to learn routes back to their home from long distances? This homing behavior is different from migratory birds that recall fixed routes at fixed times of the year, although there is some belief that the same mechanisms may be involved. So, salute the pigeon, and the next time you take a walk through your community’s park, armed with a bag of popcorn to feed the pigeons, think of them as being more than just “flying poop machines!”

“My father fought in World War 1 and single-handedly destroyed the German’s line of communication. He ate their pigeon!” —Frank Carson

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Dolphins

“[The] World is a multi-dimensional reality. At lower levels it is full with unconsciousness and competitiveness. At higher levels it is full with beauty, bliss and divinity. Focus on higher dimensions.” —Amit Ray

I’ve come to understand that all creation can be divided into three categories:

(1) Unconsciousness. This would include the four elements: earth, air, fire and water. Dictionary.com defines unconsciousness as: “not conscious; without awareness, sensation or cognition.” None of these elements can experience pain—at least not that, as a human, I am aware of, nor any of the emotions, nor can they be influenced by ‘reason.’

(2) Consciousness. This would include all plant life, including trees, grass, seeds and flowers. This is a step up from unconsciousness, because plant life can be influenced by natural forces around them. For example, the life force can be extracted from grass through lack of moisture, burning, or severe cold. Some research has demonstrated that plants can be influenced by emotion.

(3) Self-consciousness, or self-awareness. All human, animal, reptile, birds and insects fall into this category, and this is where life gets interesting, because, as humans with a fairly high degree of self-awareness, we can understand the different stages to  self-consciousness—at least as far as human research has shown. Human research believes that humans have more self-awareness than, let’s say, a frog would have—although that point can be debated, because here is where knowledge and intelligence enter into the equation; since we like to separate ourselves from the rest of Creation, we only see the human side of everything, and it’s so easy to think of ourselves as more intelligent than a frog, therefore, we must also be more self-conscious.

Universally, is this seeming really true; are we the most self-conscious—intelligent—creature on this planet, or is it just our ego speaking?

There was a time when, on the scale of intelligence—thus self-consciousness—we placed all sea life near the bottom of the scale. We had no problem in recreational fishing: hook a fish through its mouth, draw it out of its habitat—water—into the boat, watch it wiggles and struggles, gasping for air until it finally dies. We simply thought that fish—sea life—has no feelings, no emotions, no sense of survival like we have, so what did it matter if a fish seemed to struggle? Enter our friends, the dolphins to teach us differently!

“When you gain higher consciousness, your consciousness becomes universal and you become ageless, endless, and universal.” —Debasish Mridha

The dolphin was one of the first sea creatures to teach us that sea life wasn’t necessarily low-life! First, dolphins are not fish: in fact, their diet is fish! They’re mammals just like we are. We seem to have a certain attraction to the dolphin and they are featured attractions in many marine centers throughout the world. Dolphins love to play with us, and are fascinated by us, just like we love to play and are fascinated, by them.

Dolphins are even camouflaged. Their countershading is a type of camouflage found in many marine species. By having a dark back and a light belly, they blend into the sunlit surface waters as well as the dark ocean depths. They can reach speeds up to 25 feet per second. They analyse their environment by sending out echos—soundwaves—into the water, then analyse them as they bounce back off objects in the water, much like we use radar  in locating objects both in the water and in the air.

Just like humans, dolphins live in pods and are social animals and take excellent care of their sick or wounded. With brains that work much like our brains work, dolphins have adapted human language (commands?) more than any other animal in Nature.

There are cases where dolphins have intervened between human and sharks, and saved humans from shark attacks.

Dolphins have a very advanced system of communication, and have even been known to give each other names.

Rather than considering ourselves as a most advanced species on earth—God’s special creation our Holy Books tell us, it would be wiser to considered ourselves part of Nature and live in harmony with Creation. Think of how much more we could learn that way!

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Monkeys

“Monkeys are superior to men in  this: when a monkey looks in the mirror, he sees a monkey.” —Malcolm de Chazal

Have you ever told a person that they’re acting like a Rhesus Macaques? No? Well, neither have I, but I have told people “not to act like a monkey!” A Rhesus Macaques is a type of monkey that shares with humans many of our strong tendencies and social patterns.

Many studies have shown these monkeys to be very intelligent, sharing with us humans a great deal of similar traits. In fact, according to Dario Maestripieri, an expert on primate behavior, it is this monkey’s aggressive, opportunist behavior that has allowed them to be so successful in what they undertake, very similar to humans.

These little monkeys form long lasting social bonds between female relatives and express a strong, dominant hierarchy. They can be quite ruthless in their constant seeking of social status, nepotistic, and even have complex political alliances. In fact, Maestripieri says that “tactics used by [Rhesus Macaques] to increase or maintain their power are not much different from those Machiavelli suggested political leaders used during the Renaissance.

The alpha Macaques use threats and violence to hold their position over the troop—does this sound familiar to what human “alphas” use to maintain their control over us?

“True intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination” —Albert Einstein

According to the New Scientist, quite a bit of research has been done in testing the IQ of monkeys. Although their intelligence doesn’t quite measure up to human standards, and our capabilities—at least not according to our opinion of intelligence— this certainly shows that intelligence was not suddenly created in tandem with man’s introduction on earth. The question that really intrigues me is, what, really, is intelligence, and who am I to say, “that person or species is intelligent, and that person or species is not intelligent?

Mainstream Science states that intelligence is: “A very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings—”catching on,” “making sense” of things, or “figuring out” what to do.

Sounds “reasonable,” so, my next question is, which is more ‘intelligent’—more valuable to the purpose of creation: a monkey figuring out how to use a stick to dig worms out of a rotten tree stump, or an astronomer attempting to calculate the next chance of a ‘killer’ asteroid striking earth?

As Einstein would say, “It’s all relative!” 

 

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Ants

“It is the ant, not the lion, which the elephant fears.” —Matshona Dhliwayo

My heart sinks every time I go to a hardware store or garden center and see packages of ant killer on the shelves along with fertilizers and other yard and garden items.

Ants are so special in Nature. We accept vultures, gulls, crows and magpies as Nature’s cleaner-uppers of dead carion. Without these “garbage collectors” our world would soon be in a very sorry state of pollution! But, do you know that ants are Nature’s micro cleaner-uppers?

When I was a kid I’d be fascinated by watching a line of ants marching—like, they were following their own defined highway—leading from their food source back to their home colony. They weren’t picking up and carrying just anything that came in their way: they were particular and focused; they picked up only organic matter, like dead flies, tiny dead bug wings, pieces of larger dead bugs—in fact, if a dead insect, say a dead grasshopper, was too large for one ant to carry, I’d watch several ants close together on the grasshopper and begin a swift, efficient dissecting process until the grasshopper was in small enough pieces for individual ants to carry it off. These guys are professionals when it comes to micro-cleanup of Earth!

“The greatest enemies of ants are other ants, just as the greatest enemies of men are other men.” —Auguste Forel

If you ever want to spoil a housewife’s day, tell her that you saw some ants in her kitchen! Mind you, I’d agree that ants do not belong in one’s kitchen. On the other hand, ask yourself, if ants are scavengers, why are there ants in your kitchen, especially since most species of ants, have no interest in inorganic matter. If your kitchen is organically clean, it will not attract ants. It’s no different than you going to a grocery store that has no food in it. You don’t shop there!

There is much debate about how intelligent ants are. One of the problems is that too many researchers approach the question “from the top down.” In other words, we start by comparing them to ourselves and work backwards. Another handicap in comparing intelligence to the size of the brain in a species. Fortunately, the new science of artificial intelligence (AI) is blowing that theory wide open: brain size does not matter!

According to an article in Scientific American that deals specifically with ant intelligence, I quote, “Insects certainly display complex and apparently intelligent behavior. they navigate over long distances, find food, avoid predators, communicate, display courtship, care for their young … The complexity of their behavioral repertoire is comparable to any mammal.” The article goes on to say, “Ants use a variety of cues to navigate, such as sun position, polarized light patterns, visual panoramas, gradient of odors, wind direction, slope, ground texture, step-counting … and more. Indeed, the list of cues ants can utilise for navigation is probably greater than for humans.” I encourage you to read the whole article, titled, “We’ve been looking at ant intelligence the wrong way,” at: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/weve-been-looking-at-ant-intelligence-the-wrong-way/

So, the next time you step on an ant—or lay ant poison to get rid of some pesky Nature’s micro-scavengers—remember, you may have snuffed out a life that is equal, if not greater in intelligence , than a human life!

 

 

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Our Guardians, our Heros!

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” ― Mark Twain

When I think of creation and the many beauties and perks that come along with being an (elite?) member of this planet, I can easily become overwhelmed with awe at my Creator’s resourcefulness. At the moment, I’m thinking of dogs in our lives. I think that we should give more time and pay greater respects during World Dog Day (see: http://worlddogday.net/) to more justly celebrate and honor what these four-legged partners do for us.

I subscribe to Bored Panda (https://www.boredpanda.com), and an e-article, titled, “30+ Times Dogs Surprised Humans With Their Incredibly Heroic Acts” caught my attention. It’s a wonderful article with photos, and you cannot read to the end without having a greater respect for dogs and what they do for us. The first story relates how Layka, a female German Shepherd military dog who, after being shot four times, still managed to subdue an insurgean that had attacked her handler.

A second story is about a dog that had to bark for 30 minutes in attempt to persuade his family to leave the house because of a gas leak. There’s more, and each one of the stories will pull at your heart strings.

Now, at first blush, one may question just how are heroic acts like I’ve just quoted, related to intelligence—or loyalty, for that matter?  Well, without intelligence, any living, conscious being would be little more than a walking zombie! It takes reasoning, compassion and understanding to be intelligent, regardless of the species. It also takes intelligence to be loyal, trustworthy, and an eternal friend!

Browsing through the short stories mentioned in the Bored Panda e-article mentioned above, it’s not hard to see the super ability—dare I say psychic intelligence—these dogs display by understanding the problem, then being able to take immediate action, often without prompting from their human handlers.

“I belong to the people I love, and they belong to me–they, and the love and loyalty I give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could.”  ― Veronica RothAllegiant

I can add a personal dog-story to the Bored Panda list. A few years ago I owned a beautiful German Shepherd dog I named Sheba. At the time,  I was suffering from depression brought on by lack of work (I am self employed), failing health and mounting  bills. I had an overwhelming blanket of heaviness fall over me with a feeling that all the world was against me: In my world, it seemed that I had no friends and no one to turn to for support. It was then that I noticed Sheba had quietly come over to where I was sitting and laid her head on my lap, looked up at me with eyes that said, “Grieve not. I will always be your friend!” I just cried with relief!

What a dreary world this would be if we didn’t have dogs to protect, comfort and support us!

 

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Magpies and a Falcon

The art of self-defence is not an invention of man. Self-preservation and of the species is inherent in all living creatures.

I recently wrote about an incident that I experienced between  two Magpies and how they were ‘torturing’ one of our house cats. Here’s another one involving Magpies, but this time it wasn’t a house cat, but a Falcon. I never cease to be amazed at the creative intelligence of Magpies. When God was handing out ‘smarts,’ Magpies obviously were at the front of the line!

During the summer months, I have two bird feeders, a bird bath and a suet dispenser for my “community of birds” that visit my back yard quite regularly. Because of these “feeder attractions,” my back yard is usually alive with the busy chatter of a variety of birds, ranging anywhere from the tiny Hummingbird to the majestic Black Crow, and it’s a real joy to sit there, relaxing on my patio, and listen to this “neighborhood chatter.” However, this particular morning when I went out, all was silent, and this silence immediately attracted my attention.

Not only was there silence  but I couldn’t see any of my usual “customers” at the bird feeders. I stood motionless and just observed. What could be the cause of this silence?

Then I saw it. A Falcon had quietly perched itself in an open  area on our fence. It sat still,  only its head slowly turning as its eyes searched for a hidden bird that it could swoop down on and take away for its next meal.

On another section of the fence, a respectable distance from the Falcon, perched a lone Magpie, also very quiet and not moving even a feather. Although I couldn’t hear it with my human ears, I could sense that the Magpie was sending out an alarm to its fellow Magpies that a dangerous intruder was present!

I don’t think I waited five minutes before a swarm of at least a dozen Magpies seemed to appear as if out of nowhere and started a planned, patterned “dive-bombing” of that Falcon. At first, the Falcon stood its ground. In fact, it even made a few feeble tempts to strike out and catch a swooping Magpie, but these Magpie were too practiced—too skilled at their offensive maneuvers and the Falcon’s feeble attempt to snag a Magpie failed every time. These Magpies knew exactly what they were doing: they were professionals! And the battle soon became one-sided  with the Falcon departing in a humiliated flutter of frustration!

With the Falcon gone, it didn’t take long for my back yard to again return to its bustling, noisy, chattering and chirping self!

Their strategy worked. The Magpies proved again that there is power in numbers!

You cannot expect victory and plan for defeat.”  —Joel Osteen

Amazing Intelligence in Animals—Magpies and our Cat

 

“The fox, when it sees a flock of heron or magpies or birds of any kind, suddenly flings itself on the ground with his mouth open to look as he were dead; and these birds want to peck at his tongue, and he bites off their heads.”  —Leonardo da Vinci

I don’t always have to Google the world to find good stories about animals. Sometimes the most astounding, cutest, funniest antics of animals can take place right in front of me, right in my own back yard!

This day I was lounging in one of our deck chairs on our patio when my attention was suddenly attracted to a corner of our yard near the shed, where two Magpies were making quite a ruckus. I glanced over and here was one Magpie limping, screeching its distress call (its version of help?), fluttering its wings like it was injured and couldn’t fly. It was doing this quite near to where one of our cats was sunning itself in the grass. Naturally the cat thought this a good opportunity for a fresh, feathery lunch and lunged for the bird. However, no sooner did the cat get within a few inches of the Magpie, when the Magpie flew up and perched itself on the fence, screeching (more like cackling) in delight in their high pitched shriek that they have, which, to me, sounded like it was laughing its silly head off at having just fooled the cat.

Meanwhile, the second Magpie flew down and landed just a few feet from where the cat now was, the cat looking a bit dazed and confused, because in its mind, the “wounded” Magpie should have been firmly gripped between its paws, not up there on the fence. The second Magpie repeated the first Magpie’s ‘injured’ prank. Sure enough, the cat fell for the trick and lunged for the second Magpie, and the Magpie also flew away just as the cat got within inches of what it anticipated to be an easy lunch.

The two Magpies repeated this caper, much to their own ‘kinky?’ delight at having so completely frustrated the cat. One Magpie would play injured, then fly away just as the cat got near it, then the second Magpie repeated the first one’s ‘injured’ play, then fly away just as the cat again got near. I finally ended up intervening, for had I not interrupted this little fun-play, I’m sure the two Magpies would have driven that poor cat crazy.

I know Magpies are very intelligent birds and are capable of the most intelligent, creative behavior patterns that I’ve ever seen in birds. But I also know that cats are very intelligent and usually not easily fooled, so why did it fall for the play of these two Magpies? I can only conclude that it would be for the same reason an otherwise seemingly intelligent human falls for the nefarious pranks of a scammer!

Sometimes we are the object of the joke, and sometimes we are the joker.