david and croc 2

I see Sir David Attenborough has inadvertently become involved in the Gaza conflict . A piece  attributed to him is  circulating on the web and goes as follows…

“I am unaware of any animal that is as cruel as Israelis — not even crocodiles. They bomb schools, hospitals, refugee camps, orphanages, UN feeding stations, water works, power plants, ambulances, kids playing on the beach. They put millions of people in a siege. They shoot children going to school. They kidnap kids and harvest their organs. They inject prisoners with disease pathogens before releasing them. They murder by land sea and air. And worst of all, they slander their defenceless victims as “terrorists”…..”    …..

I t doesn’t really sound like something that  he would say although I suppose, that nearing ninety years of age , he probably feels he could let the dogs loose a bit and speak his mind. What’s the worst they could do to him now?He’s done it all and lived a full life.He’s been a fixture in all our lives for some fifty or sixty years now . From his handsome  youthful black and white days as a naturalist on BBC television to his later incarnation as the head of BBC2  where he unleashed the likes of Monty Python on a grateful nation, to his “Voice of God”  phase in his various series about Life on Earth..He roamed the world from pole to pole and east and west …competing with Python Michael Palin to eat up as many air -miles and bookshelf space on their  various adventures.

Of course  there is a hole as big as the one in the ozone layer which he is always pointing out and it’s staring right out from that quote .

The fact is ,  that as a naturalist , he would never see a crocodile as as a  “cruel” creature . He would see it  as doing what crocodiles do ,naturally . A crocodile hasn’t got the human social problems and moral interactions that we all have to deal with daily as we rub along together. A crocodile  is like a shark which eats opportunistically when it gets hungry and probably doesn’t give much thought as to whether it  is eating  a wildebeeste or a man. The old crocodile isn’t going to sit and ponder about the morality of killing a poor man and leaving his family without a husband and a father  to provide for the next generation. No, Mr. Crocodile will roll his dinner around to the bottom of the river, stow it neatly on an underwater shelf  larder for a little tenderising , and finally chomp it all down with gusto , maybe letting out a gentle bubbling burp or two in the process.We don’t like to even think we are in the same league as our old crocodile , of course, but the fact is we are the major league predator in the entire equation .A crocodile or a shark is a rank amateur by comparison. Of course , we have removed ourselves so far away from the sources of our food that many on earth barely know what their neatly -packed food in the supermarket actually is anymore . All those hamburger patties in McDonalds may as well be made from carrots as far as their consumers are concerned . It’s never given a second thought that cattle are grazed in quantity and systematically butchered in factories and packed neatly in polystyrene and cling film for our daily consumption. I’m not a vegetarian so I have no real problem with this but I’m not so hypocritical as to believe that I am not one of the top predatory animals that have  butchered  their way across the world.We  humans are better and more efficient killers than any other of our fellow flesh and bone beasts.

If I was to believe in a god , it would be a toss-up between  the actor Morgan Freeman and David Attenborough as to what the great being should actually sound like . They both have that  easy dulcet sonorousness, inherent in their speaking voices that allow us all to believe that someone very special is speaking to us as equally intelligent human gods.Those honeyed , euphonious, rumbling tones would be perfect for a deity. Yes, if god sounded like David Attenborough , you could really buy into him, couldn’t you ? Except , that is , that that idea would be  very far from Mr. Attenborough’s mind or belief . He is a committed  believer in evolution , absolutely abhors the idea of the Creationist idea and has an over-arching scepticism of  every creation belief he has encountered throughout his long life and travels throughout our planet. You might say , he has seen it all and  bought every T-shirt. As he has said himself…. “The Australian Aboriginals think that the first humans were regurgitated by a great rainbow serpent in the sky, the people in Thailand think the beginning of the world was a huge pool of milk and a snake was pulled by demons, and the milk coagulated and that formed human beings and there was a time, two and a half to three thousand years ago, when people on the east end of the Mediterranean thought woman was made from the rib of the first man.”

Yes..Adam’s Rib …indeed. I read somewhere too that some Native American “Indians” believe that mankind came out of a hole in the ground somewhere…possibly  in those” Black Hills of Dakota ..

Where the pines are so high

That they kiss the sky …….”

…….as Doris Day once sang so sweetly.

In an era of instant communication , there is as much misinformation roiling through the telephone lines  as there is truth..When an idea  catches fire online , there is really no stopping it. Is it any wonder that human beings are so mixed up?

That Attenborough “quote” may have been totally fictitious but it’s obviously what a lot of people would have liked the “Voice of God” to have emoted . They want the Word on High to take a moral stance on a subject that is exercising us all .We all want a neat solution and god is supposed to bring that. Unfortunately David Attenborough knows more about the baser habits and nature  of mankind than any of us and he will know that we are all only doing what comes naturally to the killers inside us all … Gaza.

 The crocodile will never be a competitor in that kind of league.

2 Responses to MR. ATTENBOROUGH AND THE CROCODILE by Harry McAvinchey

  1. Paddy everton August 12, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    Attenborough and Kropotkin both have held interesting views on how the human species has evolved and it’s impact on the planet we live on. I suspect they would have had much in common.

  2. paddykool August 13, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    Hi Paddy e .I suspect you might be right . The little I know about Kropotkin would lead me to agree . They would surely share many conclusions about the natural world and had a similar world travelogue and interests to compare over a nice glass . He did believe authoritarian institutions such as the State or the Church, which he saw as stifling human creativity and freedom and impeding humans’ instinctual drive towards real cooperation. He similarly saw through the veil of superstition.I’m not so sure Mr Attenborough would see himself as an anarchist though.