“MsBurb, whatthe…? Your drink looks way too empty, I think you’re down a quart!”
I know…but I had this thought while extracting the lint from my dryer the other day…hey, I have thoughts all over the place, Man, just try and keep up, will ya!
Cultural mores are extremely forceful powers in society. Some Orientals eat dog…while we as North American buy fur-lined beds for our dogs. Southern Americans live to gobble up “chitlins” and yet, even on my best day, pig’s intestines are not usually on my grocery list.
And so, yes, eventually, wayyyyy down this comparison ladder, lies Man’s repulsion at eating, well, Man!
And yes, I get it. It’s irreverent. It’s unholy. It’s taboo!…Boo!
What about those times in this precarious world when cannibalism HAS occurred because survival vs. mores were at war with one another? And whenever a survivor of a horrible disaster lived to tell the tale because he chose cannibalism over death, why do we still find ways to ridicule and mock him to his eventual dying day?
I don’t care how many times it wafts over the TV tube or I read about it in books, the Photo: The Donner Party Project
Donner Party disaster is a perfect example.
Before I explain, heed my Moral of the Storyright from the Get-Go: Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT let men drive the family wagon…EVER!!! The will NEVER stop for directions or they will take the advice of a “buddy” of theirs to follow that “short-cut” they had heard about...sigh…. And you end up driving over and over the same patch of ground until, well, you’re forced to eat your own! GPS be damned!
Can’t you just visualize the forks in the road that day in 1846?
The men gathering in a circle near the lead wagon, talking over the new and improved short-cut (and as yet untested, but hey, that NEVER stops a guy!) route Lansford W. Hastings suggested over the Sierra Nevada mountains. The women, as yet untrained in the forceful ways of their feminist sisters yet to come, gathering in a circle around the last wagon in line, shaking their heads and whispering, “Geez, Harold, Chester, the bunch of’em…it’s ALWAYS gotta be a short-cut! If he had JUST stopped at the last watering hole, like I suggested, to ask for directions and to enquire of Hastings if the route was really okay to take…but noooooooo! They gotta do it their own way. Why we can’t take the established route fails me!”
And so it was, and so their fate was sealed…something akin to driving a station-wagon through West L.A., with only your Hawaiian shirt and that instamatic camera for protection…sigh…
The snow began to fall…and fall…and fall…and did I mention how quietly and beautifully it all began to fall…?
Yep, 87 souls and their wagon train wound their way through the Wasatch Mountains, reaching only Truckee Lake before the wagons could travel no further… Moral Number Two of this Story: Station-wagons then, through to the 1970s and morphing into Mini-vans now and will forever be driven by domestic DOLTS!!! They WILL be the cause of your death eventually! Trust MsBurb on this one!
From July 20th 1846 to February 18, 1847, 42 people perished from shear starvation and the bitter ravages of the elements, thanks to men proverbially turning left at the Chevron Station instead of right…sigh…Yeah, today is MsBurb’s National Beat-Men-With-A-Stick Day…it should be a national holiday, donchathink?
Zoom forward a few bundle of decades to an Andes Mountains locale, a similar snow-covered scene (damn that wintry white stuff anyhoo!), of 42 rugby team mates in the 1972 Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 airplane disaster, also known as the “Miracle in the Andes” (click pic to buy the book!). This plane of 40 passengers and five crew had only warm weather gear, a few chocolate bars, bottles of wine and some other snacks to keep them alive until the snow and cold ravaged and challenged them to a war of mores vs. survival.
When all was said and done, some two months later, 29 had perished…the numbers without the cannibalism would have been far worse.
Zoom back yet again to the early 20th century and to the dogmatic and dangerous reign of Stain, the Ukraine Wheat Fields and the Soviet engineered starvation of 1932-33, of his own country-men, to feed the “Proletariat” in the newly found Hammer & Sickle centres of the Communist regime.
In ALL these cases, forces were at work to insight the cannibalistic response, not for any ghoulish reasons but from shear desperation, to quell the severe pain that is caused when the body cries out for nourishment.
Maybe, because I’m not glued to a human religion (I AM glued to God, human make-believe religious customs, not so much), this - what seems to me to be a natural reaction - the act of cannibalism - is what one would expect in all these cases.
But in EVERY one of these cases, the survivors were often ridiculed and ostracized, for decades to come, as if these survivors had a CHOICE to devour human flesh.
In the very sad case of the Donner Party, the eating of the dead was an utter waste of time because by the time the people had died, all that was left to their bodies was bone and some sinew, areas that do NOT store nourishment and therefore cannot give nourishment to the eaters of such flesh. The half dead were actually starving to death whether they ate these bodies or not.
In the case of the Andes disaster, because it all occurred so rapidly, I do believe that the nourishment from those bodies was far more beneficial and directly led to the survival of the rest. The terrain far worse, the temperatures far colder but the survival numbers still decent thanks to their decision to eat their friends.
Sadly, with the Ukraine horror, that I might add, occurred six years BEFORE old Adolf Hitler ever came to power in Germany, estimates of loss of life due to starvation are put at somewhere around 10 million people. Four million more than is estimated for the deaths in Germany by 1945. The survivors of Stalin’s plan to force the Ukrainians out of their own homeland were scorned and socially tainted from the only option Stalin offered these people – starve or cannibalize.
The survivors of each one of these tragedies WERE ridiculed and mocked for doing what any other animal would do – eat to survive.
Let’s just lay the cards out on the table, shall we? If you, or your loved one had only the choice to survive and eat human flesh or to perish as you fervently clutched at those cultural mores of yours, which one would you choose?
As Easter is fast approaching, maybe this will help you decide…