Hunter Or Prey?

Kill Or Die

Long long ago, much sooner than before that, there was a group of people that lived where they used to not think it was possible to support life. They were outcasts, and didn’t live there by choice. They lived there because they weren’t accepted any place else. At first they had a tough time, as the environment produced plants and supported animals that they weren’t used to. They had no idea how to hunt them or harvest them or even keep track of them.

People don’t realize that in order to develop a sense of what is edible and inedible, one must ingest poison from time to time. So for the first few weeks and months, this group was constantly living in fear of eating a deadly poison, or tracking an animal that would turn and counter attack rather than simply flee, as most animals in their homeland did.

But after the seventh month, on the seventh day, they finally had the animals and plants catalogued, and decided it was time for the ceremony. The ceremony of acceptance by the environment. They knew very well that many of their ancestors had perished because they didn’t take the time to properly understand the way of the land and the sky and the trees.

The ceremony was no small event. It lasted a full week, and was designed to fully feel appreciation for actually becoming part of the environment, much like the spotted lizard or the horned owl. These animals were long thought gods by these primitive people, as they blended well within their environment, and had developed the skill of hunting without disturbing the environment.

The spotted lizard could eat from a group of flies and be able to pick them off one by one, without the flies noticing something was amiss. And the horned owl was able to quietly land right in the middle of a cluster of mice, and selectively eat them one by one, without disturbing the others.

Many believe that a harmonious existence with nature is a situation marked by mutual respect. It is not. Harmonious existence with nature is marked by the ability to extract the maximum amount of resources from your environment without depleting it, and without causing yourself more work in the future.

This is exactly why this group of people struggled so long to determine which beasts to hunt, which to avoid, and which to domesticate. Domesticated animals could help during the hunt, and those that were to be avoided had to be respected at all costs.

Once a small community of outcasts, not dissimilar to this one, made the mistake of not respecting those animals that were better left avoided. One on hunt, the animals lured them into a trap, and the hunters became the prey, and were quickly killed, and devoured. Such is nature.

Kill or be killed is the rule. Hunt or be hunted. Fortune goes to the swift and the cunning, and only the lucky get the scraps, not the deserving. Which brings us to our story.

One day, this small group had set off for the first hunt after the acceptance ceremony. There were sixteen in all. They were hunting the large mammoth, which provided enough meat to last several weeks for their small community. The mammoth rarely retaliated, and when it did, it was only in the short term. Despite popular beliefs that these animals have long memories, they certainly don’t hold a grudge. Perhaps they don’t see humans as a threat, or perhaps there is another reason yet to be discovered.

They group, after chasing a herd of mammoth for three days, finally had one cornered. It was slow, and had fallen behind the rest of the group, likely due to injury. Had this been a nature documentary in another time or place, it might have generated sympathy. But this group of hunters had been a long time without food. It was kill or die.

So they crept slowly behind the struggling and obviously in pain animal, surrounding it as they did. Finally the time came to strike. The young animal, still not weaned from its mother, looked at the hunters with sad eyes, as if it were pleading for mercy.

But nature cares not for mercy, only for survival. The hunters plunged their spears into the young mammoth again and again, until it breathed its last. The horrible slow agony of its last breath was met by the euphoric cheers of the hunters. They had made their first kill after the acceptance ceremony.

When they returned to their tribe, they were met with great happiness and appreciation. The ceremonial cooking of the first kill was long and enjoyed.

But not before the prayers. These people had learned long ago that just as the death of this young, injured mammoth had brought them much happiness and relief, so too would their deaths, also slow and painful, to some other creature that lurked behind the hills.

They also knew that nature doesn’t care about happiness or pleasure or satisfaction, but only for survival. And just as they killed for their survival, many other creatures would just as readily kill them for its survival.