“Golden Slumbers”, a song fragment that is part of the medley making up most of side two of the Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road, leads straight into “Carry That Weight”, followed by “The End”. The song fragment is credited to Lennon/McCartney, but really it was entirely Paul McCartney’s composition, for which he borrowed lyrics from “Cradle Song”, a 1603 lullaby written by Thomas Dekker. The wonderful orchestration on this recording was by George Martin, the Beatles’ long-time producer.
The lives of dogs and cats, or just about any animal we keep as a pet, are so much shorter than our own that anyone who has had an animal companion has certainly experienced the passing of one, possibly several, within the span of his or her own lifetime. It is never easy, whether death comes for a pet as the outcome of a quick accident or of a prolonged illness.
Grief only comes from having had an emotional bond with someone, and people have emotional bonds with their pets, otherwise there would be no pets, only creatures regarded by us with a certain distance and detachment. Guilt is part of the bargaining stage of grief, and it can be strong in people grieving the loss of a pet because they bear such a great responsibility for the pet’s well being and, sometimes, how the pet’s life ends.
A light brindle boxer dog peacefully coexisting with a ginger cat. Photo by Rufus Sarsaparilla.
Even when, nearing death, the light seems to have gone out of a companion animal’s eyes, there is still a glimmer of that shared bond in the way they look at us as a friend and protector. What is happening to me, and why are you, always the powerful person in my life, helpless to make things better? There is no reproach in that look, only sadness, pain, and bewilderment. Ultimately, before the light in a dying pet’s eyes goes out entirely, there is a look of surrender and then acceptance. Relief and blessed peace follows for everyone.
It’s far too soon to contemplate taking on the responsibility for another animal’s life, much as there is never a shortage of them who need a home with a caring person. Why would anyone want to be assured of going through all that emotional pain again, five, ten, or fifteen years down the road? But the animals will die regardless of their situation, either alone as a stray or in near anonymity in a cage as one of many animals in a shelter. They can live better with someone who cares deeply, and they will give as well as they receive.
That’s all in the future, possibly, after a period of bereavement for this one pet, because after all they are not interchangeable parts, but individuals with personalities. For now, there are only sad hours, and tears, and prayers for a peaceful end to suffering.
In her 2014 rendition of “Golden Slumbers”, French Canadian singer and pianist Catherine Grenier fills out the Beatles’ original medley fragment into a full song.
It is one thing to be ignorant, and quite another to be militantly, defiantly proud of that ignorance. To be clear, ignorance is not the same thing as stupidity. Ignorance can be rectified through education of one sort or another, while stupidity is almost always a life long condition. A person can be proud of their stupidity, which would be an unfortunate attitude but not something others could condemn that person for, given that a stupid person is apt to adhere to stupid beliefs. An otherwise reasonably intelligent person who persists in ignorance, on the other hand, exhibits a moral failing.
A cheeky take on the typical evolution of humans illustration, which in this instance has been altered by the inclusion of a parody of The Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover, indicating that may have been the climax of our evolution. Photo composite by Flickr user possan.
Since before the election of the Vulgarian-in-Chief, observers of the American political scene have marveled at how his supporters – believers, really – have stuck with him no matter what. As the Vulgarian himself noted fairly early in the campaign, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue [in New York City] and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Why is that? With all his lies, evidence of misogyny, racism, narcissism, greed, corruption, nepotism, and, since his election, his evident inability to govern competently, why do roughly one third of the American electorate stay on his side regardless of all that?
The best guess hearkens back to why those people voted for him in the first place. Throughout the campaign, his voters kept saying that he ‘tells it like it is” and “he’s his own man and not an establishment insider.” Neither of those core beliefs, nor many of the others his supporters expressed about him, were entirely true, but that made no difference to them. What made a difference to them was that the language he used appeared to make those things true, and they desperately wanted to believe. He had snake oil to cure them, and they were eager for his cure. Telling it like it is meant he was prepared to advocate politically incorrect positions in the culture wars, and being an establishment outsider had no more real traction than his complete lack of experience in organized politics.
On these slim assumptions they voted for him, because the assumptions became beliefs. Don’t confuse them with the facts. It was enough that their Chosen One appeared to give a middle finger to the politically correct and to the Washington establishment. Once he got into office, he continued displaying his middle finger, and whether or not that has had a salutory effect on his ability to govern effectively appears immaterial to his core supporters, who are more concerned with what they are against in the culture wars and in government.
A clip from the 1960s television situation comedy Hogan’s Heroes, featuring the German Sgt. Schultz, whose catch phrase was “I know nothing.”
In a cult of personality, what matters is the perception of the believers, rather than the reality. Any attempt to dissuade them from their delusions has the effect of making them more adamant. Nothing can be done for most of them, who see nothing wrong with themselves. Because it is in his nature to do so, there is no question that their preferred Strong Man will continue to exploit the opportunity they have afforded him, in a multitude of venal ways which will continue until the day he leaves office. One might as well expect the leopard to change its spots as expect him to evolve into a respectable and respected statesman. All that can be done is to resist and to continue bringing evil into the light, much as it often seems that only the choir hears the preaching. Today more than ever, the choir can amplify and magnify and sing out what they hear, and they too can tweet.