Maybe it runs in the family. Though I can be gregarious when I need my social fix, I admit to being quite the misanthrope on occasion. Sometimes I just can't take it any more, the ugliness of the world, the rushing, the rudeness, the constant emotional engagement. After too much social interaction, I think I just need a break from it all and take some time to myself, enjoying my blessed solitude like a precious gold nugget. Usually my personal retreats are short-lived, and I'm back to being social soon after.
But sometimes I retreat into my own private world avoiding others at length, maybe for several weeks, because I'm overwhelmed by some form of cruelty among my fellow homo sapiens. Human cruelty shocks me into shutting down. That's the only way to describe it. It doesn't happen often, luckily. But you know the kind of stories that make you say, "I really hate people." Well, I say that too. And though I don't really mean I hate ALL people, I DO mean I hate SOME people.
I hate people who hurt animals most of all.
Frankly, cruelty to animals sickens me to the core. No other act of abuse disturbs me as much, not even to children. Maybe that's messed up. But it's me. If I saw a kid and a dog about to be hit by a train, I'd honestly don't know which I'd save first. The idea of an animal dying or being hurt fills me with such pain. Hey, I love kids just as much as the next person. They are cute and funny and sometimes downright adorable, and I promise you I don't want to see any of them hit by trains! And yeah, children, like most animals, are also helpless, innocent, etc. But since I don't have any children, but I do have pets and spend a lot of time with them, they are my passion. On most days, my CATS are my entire world.
I've always loved animals with a vengeance. All kinds, everywhere. Though I love them all from cats to birds to wolves to whales to hielan coos... I just want, for the moment, to focus on CATS, since I am especially passionate about them.
Several cats have adopted me over the years. I find cats to be marvelous creatures. They are beautiful, graceful, intelligent, mysterious, quirky, loving, trusting, regal... Okay, I'm going to say it, I may have been a cat in a former life. I instinctively "get" cats. I'm in seventh heaven when I'm around them. I can spend days and days just watching them because they are so beautiful and so interesting to me. I wrote a recent blog about my love for cats, as a matter of fact.
So when people hurt a cat, they hurt me. It makes me feel weak and ineffective when I hear about someone hurting a cat, and I know there's nothing I can do to prevent it. Yeah, if I saw it happening right in front of me, I could stop it for sure. But what if I watch it on the evening news or in the morning newspaper, if it's happened already or in some other state? It's at these times that I am disgusted by human kind and with myself because I belong to it. I am angry and sad and want to scream out to the animal world -- I AM SORRY! It's at these times that I feel like a complete waste of life. What can I do to stop animal cruelty?
All I can really do is keep talking about it, about how horrible cruelty or neglect to animals is. I know I can never fight all the animal cruelty still taking place in the world. All I can do is write blogs like this, volunteer at animal shelters, speak up against cruelty when I see it and point out how beautiful our animal friends are and how hurting them is intolerable.
Yes, I can definitely be a true misanthrope. But the important thing for me and people like me to remember is you have to keep noticing the really nice people, that they really do exist, that there are far MORE of the good ones than the bad ones. I have to believe that. And then, I can interject myself back into society with a smile...
There are good days and bad days. I'm glad today is one of the good days. I haven't heard a single terrible story all day. In fact, today I talked to a nice lady who is the pastor of our U.U. church, and she was telling me how she volunteers at the Happy Endings no-kill cat shelter in Milwaukee. And the owner of Spa Paw and Tail in New Berlin once donated some of her lodging space to take in pets of those who lost their houses to foreclosure, and keeps them there until they've found a new permanent home. And another friend and the head of my writer's workshop (AllWriters) who just lost her cat to Cancer, that she is "a firm believer in honoring a pet's passing by saving another." Thank God for nice people like that!
When the bad days come, and I read the headlines like the box of kittens that was thrown out a passing car's window, or the cat who was found brutally beaten in a park, I can endure these stories simply by remembering there are also nice people out there. And then I turn off my TV and my cell phone, and I sit in a sunny corner of my living room, surrounded by my beautiful, loveable cats. As long as I have my misanthropic mini retreats, I can rejoin the human race when I'm ready.