Monday, August 30, 2010

The Brown Cow

Right up the road from where I live is a huge farm of Black Angus cattle. Next door and across the street are large green pastures where the cows and heifers spend the months of summer. There is a rhythm and routine to their lives. Every morning and evening they are brought a "little snack" as the farm owner put it, allowing the workers an opportunity to look over their charges, but most of the day is passed grazing or lazing in sun and shade. Occassionally, I notice a change in the numbers, or the addition of a bull-mostly noticed by his massive body and loud bellow- otherwise, they all look the same to me.

I am not much of a cow person. I think they are large, they smell, they are messy, and they pick their noses with their long, pink tongues. ICK. It is blatantly prejudicial. But I don't hate them.

A few weeks ago, a Hereford cow was introduced to the herd. Her russet and white coat stood out like a beacon in the sea of black bodies. The farm uses embryo transfer, a reproductive technology which has become extremely popular with livestock and horse breeders. The Hereford is a surrogate, carrying a purebred Black Angus. She doesn't seem to mind. And neither do her herdmates.

It is an acceptance that humans seem to have trouble learning.

I recieved an e-mail this morning, before my daily walk to the barn to care for my horses, which made me think of the brown cow. A man in Springfield, MA was killed while returning from picking up his take-out dinner. Shot and burglarized, this man was not the first victim of his attackers. He was in his twenties and from Guatemala. The victims of these attacks are all immigrants, new to the neighborhood, chosen because of thier lack of understanding of our legal system, fear of deportation, and just plain "differentness."

Different, yes, but still human. Still a member of the human species.

And the sad thing is that this dislike and hatred for our fellows goes so far beyond appearance. The three major religions of the world- Judaism, Christianity, Islam- have the same basis. They have grown from the same seed. And yet, we all know how well they coesxist. Or don't.

We can blame the tension on the media, we can blame prejudice on ignorance, we can point the finger and say, "that's not me," but somewhere along the line it could be. It comes from somewhere.

Now, I cannot claim that I am so Buddha-like that I have cultivated a genuine love for all my fellow mankind. However, if I don't like somebody, it's generally because they have either insulted me, harmed me, or we simply do not get along. Chances are the feelings are mutual. I hope it has nothing to do with skin, eye, hair color, or religious beliefs. And politics frustrates me to the point of having equal antipathy for both major parties.

This is nothing new and has been rehashed time and time again.

But this cow...

She grazes quite happily in her herd. She huddles with them when the heat and the flies become unbearable. Her taller stature, her white legs and face, her brownness, mark her as so different from her cookie-cutter herd. They gather in a tight bunch and the brown cow is in the center, as if embraced.

Sometime in the future, the brown cow will bear a calf that is not hers in any way. And somehow, I don't think she'll mind. I don't think either she or the calf will look at each other and say, "I hate you only because you are not like me."

I am not a fan of cows. But I am learning a lot from them.

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