City Mouse or Country Mouse

What’s in your soap?  Do you even know?  Most of us are so citified we don’t think much about what’s inside the products we pick up along the long isles of our mega-stores.  We read the list of ingredients and make assumptions and/or shake our heads.  If I stop for a moment to think about my soap, my mind instantly brings up memories of the enormous tripod-footed black cast iron cauldron my great grandmother had near the farmhouse.  Nearby sat the older cauldron suspended from a tripod.  When they were acquired, they were MAJOR household appliances and quite expensive.  My GGM used them for many things, including making soap.

Soap contains 2 basic ingredients: acid and alkali; usually lye and fat.  Lye is produced from ash.  Very simply, that’s what’s left at the bottom of the fireplace after the fire goes out.  The label won’t say “lye” because that has negative implications these days but it might well say “sodium hydroxide” which is the same thing.  Fat is just that; rendered animal fat.  If it is from cattle, it’s tallow; if from pigs, lard.  Oh, but your soap is glycerin soap.  Well glycerin is usually made by the same process.  When alkali and acid get mixed up, they produce fatty acids and glycerin.

The simple truth is that there are animal parts in most of our products.  We use words like “tallow” and “lard” without thinking about what they mean.  When the public gets riled up, the manufacturers come up with replacement terms to protect the citified from the harsh realities of what is in the precious products they couldn’t possibly live without.  Go right ahead and tell me you’re “fur free” but don’t tell me you’re animal product free.  Don’t tell me your life doesn’t benefit from the rendering of animals because those rendered parts are in everything from building supplies to makeup.

What is a true shame is when we kill animals for a primary product but don’t use as much of the animal as possible.  If an animal is to die for our benefit, all the more reason we should use every bit of it possible.  What is an even bigger shame is those individuals who benefit without even acknowledging it; who are the activists out there that would stop the use of animals in this way without realizing what that would really mean.  Those activists would likely be the first whining, whimpering, and crying if their “dreams” came true and there were no more animal products used by humans.  Without those products, what WOULD they put in those Hollywood SWAG bags?

Along the same lines are we pet owners who acquire pets without knowing from whence they came.  We have our little blinders on too and then throw tantrums when the reality of how they are usually bred or captured, transported, handled, and cared for before reaching our loving arms.  And WE don’t get off the hook.  WE have and have always had the ability to improve those circumstances for our animals by taking off the blinders and addressing the issues.  KNOW THIS: The costs of acquiring an animal WILL go up.  Higher standards and improved conditions simply and plainly cost more.  If our pets are being poorly treated before reaching us, the blame does not lie alone with the “supply chain”.  The majority of the blame and responsibility is on YOU and ME, the individual animal owners.

We animal people are inherently divided: dogs, cats, reptiles, exotics, breeders, non-breeders, individuals, pet stores, commercial suppliers, etc., etc.  We divide ourselves up and then each group proceeds to battle amongst ourselves on our own little internal political CRAP and we exclude and shun others.  It reminds me of a gathering of the Alpha Dogs in the park.  No wonder the animal rights activists get the upper hand so often.  They gather into one big pack and divide and conquer us and WE help by not learning to set aside our alpha personalities and gather together for the greater good of us all AND our individual packs.  Oh, yes, keep battling it out internally as every pack needs to do that.  However, when one of us is attacked, we should ALL be running to back them up like a pack of snarling wild wolves (even if we intend to later turn on the attacked pack member internally) and the internal war will be there waiting when we get back to it.  Any other behavior makes us deer who can have our members cut off from the pack.  Sometimes that leaves a healthier herd but it can also leave the herd decimated or even extinct it.

So, are you sufficiently countrified to know, understand, and deal with the realities of life which are often quite harsh?  Or are you so citified that you want to live in your little protected world deluding yourself?  If you’re citified, you might want to remember that it IS a delusion and there is no real escape from the harsh realities of life.

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