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 Matters of Conscience  

I am contacted from time to time by people haunted in some way by matters of conscience. Once it was a woman in Texas who, after planning for a very long time to adopt an Old-Style Siamese kitten, decided that she couldn't do so. She felt guilty about spending money on acquiring a new Siamese member of the family when hundreds of thousands of people had been suffering so much in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I did not try to change her mind. She needed to do what she felt was right. But I remembered how I traveled to Thailand only one week after September 11, 2001, because I decided, after some thought, that terrorists were not going to stop me from seeking out new bloodlines to preserve the most wonderful of breeds. I care about the future of the Siamese, and I know that future rests on just a handful of people in the world and the decisions they make, especially the ongoing decisions that affect the Siamese gene pool. If I had decided not to go to Thailand, I would have been surrendering to terror and denying life.

In my opinion, it was no different with Katrina. As Mark Morford, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle (SFgate.com, Sept. 7, 2005), put it:

Hell, on one level, everything becomes moot and hollow in the wake of epic death tolls and a massive karmic shock. Everything seems trite and pointless and more than a little insulting to your deeper consciousness. Sept. 11 was the death of irony and humor and pop culture for a good six months. Horrific events like Katrina inject a temporary numbness into all sense of play. Death and inexpressible loss trump all cultural protests. Same as it ever was.

But there's another angle, too. Let us argue the obvious but necessary flip-side notion that, in the wake of any national disaster or mounting death toll, it is exactly those things that celebrate life that we turn to because they offer salve and balm and resurrection of spirit. 

Of course, I donated money to the Red Cross. I did that the same day the press announced the failure of the levees in New Orleans. I wanted to do something to help. But I didn't decide that preserving the Siamese was too frivolous a cause to pursue when people are dying. If the cats were ever worth preserving, they are still worth preserving when bad things happen. We can help each other immediately and in a practical manner, and we can also help each other by affirming and celebrating life.

Copyright 1996-2011 by Dr. Cris Bird of Sarsenstone Cattery. You may not redistribute it in any form without the express written consent of the copyright holder.