I am a person of solitudes. The species that I work with, the Bornean orangutan, is solitary or semi-solitary. In the past I have spent many, many days alone on the forest floor observing orangutans, trailing them as they wandered through the forest canopy, foraging for food. More recently, it almost seems as if I spend most of my time alone in airports, cramped in the back of planes and travelling trying to spread an educated awareness about orangutans and tropical rain forests throughout the world. (Hello Lithuania!)
So it was with some reluctance that I agreed to the suggestion (actually more like insistence!) of my friend Chris that I start a blog. Chris and Janet live in San Diego and to get me started, they invited me to their home for the Memorial Day week-end. Janet’s sister, Linda, was also visiting from Saskatchewan, one of Canada’s prairie provinces. (I remember Saskatchewan well as I spoke there last year: beautiful and stark, filled with warm people and a bitter cold wind that sweeps down unimpeded from the Arctic).
The drive from Los Angeles took four hours in solitude, except for the car radio. In good traffic, it normally takes two and a half. And if you have a radar-detection device on your car, you could probably do it in two. When I got out of the car, it was as if I had been on a sea voyage, my legs were so wobbly I could barely walk. This was not surprising as my legs had been pinned immobile beneath the steering wheel for four hours.
One of the reasons Chris, Janet, and Linda, and I became close friends is because we all care profoundly about animals. In fact, I have rarely met people who are more committed to the welfare of animals than Chris, Janet, and Linda.
Soon after arrival in San Diego, Chris put me in front of the computer and we did a practice blog (posted for May 23, 2009) using an excerpt from my book Reflections of Eden. Feeling uncomfortable with the concept, I wanted to see some other people’s blogs. We turned to Wayne Pacelle’s blog as I knew that he would be blogging about animals. In fact, he was blogging about working with convicted animal abuser Michael Vick who has just been released from prison. He was convicted of running an illegal dog-fighting operation several years ago. Vick is going to be working with HSUS (Humane Society of the US) to convince others that dog-fighting is unconscionable and should be stopped (It’s already been banned everywhere in North America). This led to some discussion among us about Vick’s real motives, whether he has changed, or if it even matters. The concensus was that it was a good idea because it would keep attention on the issue of dog-fighting and , who knows, in the end, Michael Vick himself would be converted to the path of righteousness in terms of his relations with animals, especially dogs. After all, I certainly believe in the power of redemption and the fact that we can all grow spiritually as we live our lives.
Today was the big day! My first actual post which I am writing now. With Chris standing beside me, smiling, (probably a little amused at my apprehension of actually sitting down at the keyboard and probably wondering what I would spew forth on my maiden voyage on my blog) I began typing. This is it. Good luck Michael Vick and even better luck to you, Wayne Pacelle, the the CEO of HSUS and the man who had the foresight to realize that some good could come out of the most abyssmal ignorance and evil (not you MichaelVick – but the dog-fighting operation you ran).