You’ve probably all noticed how, like the spreading tongues of flame, a fire of intolerant discontent burns off the reason of dissenters in Facebook (FB) groups with insulting in-your-face remarks, all too often for my taste, calling for intemperate action, unconcerned as to what the facts may be, or what ordinarily is considered right conduct. Indeed, impetuous irresponsibility is the most obvious increasing characteristic of these FB group exchanges.
In my neighborhood, the greatest offender is “Lovettsville 20180.”
Amidst sensible posted discussions, someone strikes a match and we have an eruption of mostly macho trash talk threads that rival hunger strikes.
But the latest flare up comes from down Middleburg way – from a group named – “Middleburg Uncensored.”
It was about a sighting of two pigs. Some say they’re pot-bellied pets. Others insist they’re the scariest weightiest wild tusked boars that you’d ever care to imagine.
They were seen wandering in pastures.
One group wanted to approach the problem carefully: “Save the pigs – and find the owner.”
But the gunpowder crowd knows what to do: “Kill the animals.”
This is a picture (above) of one of the terrifying “pig monsters,” courtesy Penny Loeb (copied and cropped – so you can better see the pig – from Penny’s FB post).
This is a pot bellied pig. It’s a grass eater. It’s eating grass. Penny was a restraining voice of reason and caution, concerned to be deliberate in capturing these pigs.
But that was not to be the fate of one of these pigs.
It reminds me, of what seems like a million years ago, when I studied Latin, there was a phrase that sticks in my mind, “fama rumpit.”
Literally, it means, the rumor – “fama” – spreads – “rumpit.”
But the word “rumpit” for the “spread” is the term used when a fire burns wildly, taking on a life of its own, increasingly ferocious as it rolls along, consuming reason in its destructive course.
There’s a pattern to these toxic FB threads. People scare themselves, get half-right information, make up stuff, give full throated bogey man shout outs, bully the cautious, call them names, as they did of Penny, and the “only solution” is the extreme one, shoot to kill, call the police, or even turn on a neighbor.
It’s the modern parallel to the Salem witch trial, tried in virtual space, this week featuring, “The wild boar creature loose in Middleburg Hunt territory.”
Next week, it’s a barefoot man walking through the neighborhood. Or it’s a new temple that focuses on meditation. So much to fear. So little time.
We seem to value life less, both human and animal, are easily inclined to squander, in this case nature’s treasures, though they surround us, and we have this FB time, but so little time to do what’s seems so difficult – to capture the pig.
So we killed it instead.
You would think Beowulf slayed Grendel to read the postings on the grand pig kill. No sleeping darts, no tying restraints, just shoot and kill. Chest-beating victory chants of the killing were posted afterwards. There was a trophy photo online (since removed).
Perhaps it’s proof that both pigs could have been saved with patience — as the second pig has been saved.
Arthur Schopenhauer once wrote, “The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”