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Sir David Attenborough – Conversations with Dog

Let’s play a word association game. wildlife…..television……

You said David Attenborough didn’t you?

He’s been on our screens pretty much since television was invented, OK at least since people started watching it in the UK. He was controller of BBC 2 in 1965 and director of programmes (BBC 1 and 2) in 1969, he is rightly considered a national treasure and in 2006 was voted most trusted celebrity in a 2006 readers digest poll. David knows what he’s talking about, and people trust what he says. What’s so wrong with that?

When I feel ill, I have two visual distractions that I regularly fall back on; the first is comedy; the more puerile the better. Think Seinfeld and Family Guy rather than a politicised South Park or moralistic Simpsons. The second is BBC wildlife programmes voiced by Sir David Attenborough. It’s not just the dulcet tones of Sir David, but the beautifully shot high definition cinematography which soothes and distracts from the discomfort of a cold or bout of influenza.

Why do these two work so? They are the base emotions of fun and the connection of nature. It’s about taking away the combative elements of life ignoring the things that really don’t matter that much; you know politics……….all THAT stuff, and focussing on things that bring us back to ourselves. If I had a puppy I could play with that, or borrow someone’s baby …….at least until it started crying.

That said, all is not perfect. Something that wildlife programmes have done for ever, is the anthropomorphization of the animal kingdom. I get why they do it but it doesn’t stop it being annoying and off from the otherwise pure message – a bit like an infant talking about politics – it just doesn’t add up. Sure it makes for a more dramatic form of story telling, but it’s a false premise, and Sir David really should know better than to perpetuate the myth. If he really understands animals as much as he says he does, he wouldn’t project human attributes onto the beasts he says he loves so much. Words like struggle and challenge, lonely and fight for survival are frequently used to describe animals and their lives.

We have a dog. She lives with a human family (ours), and therefore is more liable to behave as we humans do. Granted she gets fed twice a day, has plenty of fresh water and exercise, so her daily life is not a struggle. I wonder whether she would like more freedom rather than the warmth comfort and security of our home. When I look into her eyes she has never ever once ever communicated to me anything other than well-being. She doesn’t worry. She doesn’t hold grudges, she doesn’t get lonely, life is not a challenge by any stretch of even the most skewed observer’s imagination. If someone is upset, crying even, she comes over wagging her tail happy as always, unconditionally happy, unconditionally loving. These things I have learned from my dog. My dog which lives in the moment, never judges, loves unconditionally (unlike me), and wants selfishly (usually food and walkies).

On Wednesday my wife announced that Trump had won the US election. I wasn’t surprised. My wife looked sad. The dog couldn’t have cared less. She stood there wagging her tail, and the rest of her body with it, as she does every morning. I would imagine that if the Donald had walked into the room at that moment, she would have licked his face, given half the chance.

My dog obeys me if it pleases her, not out of obligation but out of selfish desire (again usually food based). If I wanted to dramatise our relationship I could project all sorts of emotions that the dog just doesn’t feel. I won’t. If these domesticated animals don’t feel these kind of human emotions, then the ones in the wild certainly don’t. I know that Walt Disney has done a number on the public (it all started with Bambi) including on Sir David, but animals do not fear death, hence they enjoy living, and they understand that life is eternal. They act out of instinct and they cooperate with each other to the mutual benefit of all.

This is the instinct that leads their actions, call it god if you want. You may as well, as you haven’t got a better word for it. Animals certainly don’t worry about the planet, or global warming or increased levels of anything. They just gravitate to what feels best to them, and make the best of life. If they don’t like the feeling of humans (some are more sensitive than others) they make themselves scarce. We call them endangered. Just as a dog doesn’t like people who fear it, the vibe of the human is anathema to many pure, wild animals, so they disappear into the woods. You might choose to go to that school reunion out of obligation, but the snow leopard certainly wouldn’t and it wouldn’t feel guilty about not attending, either.

The second point is that of perfectly natural global changes. Why must these programmes be used as politicised weapons to dispense environmental prop-agendas to the people? Why can’t I just watch some wildlife in glorious HD on the big screen? Why must I be told again and again of the effect that humans are having in destroying the planet? I don’t doubt that the planet is changing, but hasn’t it always? Isn’t it always changing, finding its balance? The longer I live, and the more I look at the wonder of nature, the more I understand that we couldn’t possibly undermine the well-being of planet earth. The goodness, the balance and the power of nature is just too strong. Life is bigger than politics, oh and by the way there is something way bigger than human beings going on here. If you disagree with me, you’re still looking at it too closely. Take a step back and you will understand. If you still don’t, you’ll get it when you die.

Last week I saw an article describing global temperature changes within a range of 1 degree, measured since 1992. 1992! From this ‘dataset’ the author was making judgements. It was pathetic, the variation of 1 degree in increments of 0.05. This is global temperature were talking about. How on earth do they think they can be that accurate? Anyone?Didn’t think so. I’m with the Donald. Global warming is rubbish.

How long has the earth been spinning in orbit, in perfect proximity to the other planets in the solar system, without crashing into each other? A few more years than 25, that’s for sure. I don’t want to call these people short sighted, actually I do want to call them short sighted. “If you believe in man made global warming you are short sighted”. You may call me many bad names, but I don’t care, it won’t change my mind. I’ll be proved right, and they will all be proven wrong. I won’t get a rebate on all my energy taxes that I’ve contributed to ‘saving the planet’, meanwhile millions starve who could have been fed. It’s OK, I get it, you want to make money. The world will prevail, despite the well-meaning-if-futile efforts of millions to prevent the planet’s temperature from rising. Sound ridiculous? It should sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous.

Sir David, please continue to make your wonderful wildlife TV programmes, they are an invaluable salve for millions convalescing. I really love them to bits. Before you script the next series, may I suggest two things; first have a talk with the dog, then have a talk with god.

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