Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Celebrate An Appreciation for Life


A week ago yesterday, I happened across “60 Minutes” and began to watch an October 2008 re-run of their documentary on a Spanish Bullfighter, Fracisco Rivera Ordonez, and his escapades in the ring. A ring metaphorically saturated with male testosterone of both human and animal form. Watching this spectacle of animal cruelty, I was genuinely disgusted observing this venue of the suffering and torture of life. Although I have always been aware of bull fighting and the gala of pomp and circumstance surrounding the matadors, my thoughts took me to a visceral level of anger and disgust. The accolades of courage and professionalism directed to this matador by the interviewer undermined my understanding of what those significant character traits mean.

However, the interview did reinforce my understanding of what “narcissism” means, “Excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance.” Although it takes guts to get in a ring with a raging bull and there are dangers, what is the objective of the ensuing battle except entertainment, wealth and fame? Why not have a few human gladiators murder one another in the ring as an encore? If Michael Vick is a murderous thug and imprisoned for promoting and participating in dog fighting, shouldn’t these matadors be imprisoned and fined for single handedly killing over a thousand bulls over the course of their invigorating career, regardless of culture? It is estimated there are at least 40,000 bulls killed each year in Europe and over 250,000 worldwide each year. In January of this year it was reported an 11-year-old Franco-Mexican bullfighter killed six young bulls during a Saturday performance. That should teach many a young person about the value and dignity of life, you think? There are many other examples of such animal cruelty from the massacre of elephants, whales, dolphins and many other species of endangered and non-endangered animals.

Why would I broach this topic? I am not an extreme environmentalist, nor an animal rights activist, for I always believe in common sense and non-extremism, but I do believe in the ethical treatment of human beings and animals. Viewing this documentary caused me to sadly reflect on this travesty, and direct thought and appreciation towards the wonderment and beauty of nature and the amazing creations that surround us. I understand there are millions of animals slaughtered for food and human consumption, but I do not know how many cattle and chickens are being slaughtered for entertainment.

As the sun blazed brightly this past week creating anticipation of an upcoming spring, I paid more attention to the little things of nature we at times take for granted. The cackling of geese high in the sky returning from their southern vacation, the awakening of local birds, bugs and critters from their wintry confinement, and the mystical lady bugs magically appearing out of nowhere are all a tribute to the miracle of nature. The warmth of a new day as the Northern Hemisphere begins to tilt forward towards the sun invigorates the soul. The expectation of flowers, colors, scents and sounds resonate an excitement for days outdoors, walks in the park, hikes in the high peeks, and swims in mountain lakes. I speak of core values as a foundation for our lives, and I have decided to add a new one, “a greater respect for life”, human, animal, botanical and even astronomical. Of course there are many issues where the term “life” can be a platform for debate and division, but that is for a different venue. However, my heart does hope the same level, preferably a greater level of attention, is placed on respect for human life as may be placed on a animal’s life. Five “smile creating” tips to enhance your appreciation of your surroundings are, * look up and observe the sun, stars, sky, etc. * smell a flower or bouquet * listen to the sounds of chirping, barking, meowing and squeaking * wonder over the amazing details of how something as simple as a bug can be so unique * experience the gentle eyes of the many animals we encounter, just let them be. Each day is a day to be grateful, and each day is a day to be accepting of the simple yet significant part we play in the evolution of the world.

Friday, August 07, 2020

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