When Good Intentions Backfire

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After the old woman died, her children – who themselves were getting on in years ­ were surprised to learn the contents of her will. The four siblings were left an equal quarter of the value of a house and property. Her wishes were that whoever died first that their portion would go to the other three, and so on. She thought this was the fairest way to handle the bequest of her estate to her four children.

Three of her children had spouses, two had children the the youngest had neither child not spouse. The eldest two siblings with children desired that the property be passed down to their family when they died – not passed, as had been their mother’s wish – to their brother and sister. The second oldest had also acted as executor of the will. On his own he decided to take money from their mother’s estate and hire an estate attorney to draw up a new trust for the property, changing the rights of inheritance to include wives and children and grandchildren. This meant that instead of four siblings owning the property it would be now be owned by the four sibling, plus the six children of two of the siblings and seven great grandchildren from the two families.

One day not long after the matriarch died, the youngest sibling, one who had no spouse and no children, received a special delivery package containing this new trust. There was a note from her older brother telling her to “sign quickly and return the next day.” She didn’t.

When her brother called to find out why she hadn’t signed it and sent it back she said she didn’t want to change the will. She told him she found it distressing that he had made an executive decision using money from the estate to hire new attorneys to draw up a new trust without consulting the other siblings. Her brother became enraged. He spoke in a vindictive, nearly hysterical manner, something she had never heard him do before. The new estate attorneys called asking what they might do to change her mind.

The next time she saw her brother they met in the hospital. Their father was dying. Thye were the perfunctory greetings but they realized their relationship had fundamentally changed.

In an attempt to be fair a mother inadvertently started a rift and a wound between siblings that to this day is not healed. Issues like this can be easily avoided by making sure estate documents are carefully drafted – with no contradictory language, no vague phrasing – just precise and clear language to eliminate any misunderstanding.

The War on Cats

CATS

The Link between Power, Control, and Cat Punchers

Law enforcement and social service providers now recongnize that when animals in a home are abused or neglected it is a warning sign that others in the household may not be safe and that children who witness animal abuse are at a greater risk of becoming abusers themselves. Animal abuse, and other forms of family violence are acts that are linked. [1]

A survey of pet-owning families with substantiated child abuse and neglect found that animals were abused in 88 percent of homes where child physical abuse was present. Violent offenders incarcerated in a maximum security prison were significantly more likely than nonviolent offenders to have committed childhood acts of cruelty toward pets.[2] The abuse is often cyclical and inter-generational.”

The New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services discovered that in homes where there was domestic violence or physical abuse of children, the incidence of animal cruelty was close to 90 percent

In his paper called, “Cruelty Toward Cats: Changing Perspectives,” Lockwood underscores the origin of abuse within the dynamics of power-and-control:
“Cats, are more commonly victims of abuse than dogs because dogs are, by their very nature, more obedient and eager to please, whereas cats are nearly impossible to control.”

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The Curious History of Cat Abuse part one

The earliest cat found buried in association with a human at a site in Cyprus were dated to approximately 7500 B.C. The grave suggested that the person was important and gave importance to the cat.

Around 450 B.C. Herodotus describes his visit to the temples in Bubastis and the various practices surrounding the cult, including the harsh penalties for injuring or killing cats (Clutton-Brock 1993,36)

It was illegal to export cats from Egypt was illegal, until the tenth century when cats began coming into Europe and Asia.(Zeuner 1963).

Christianity at that time was “extreme in suppressing unorthodox beliefs and because cats were often central to many of these belief systems, from the Eygptian cult of Bastet to the worship of the Norse goddess Freya, cats were demonized and associated with the non-Christian and the Devil. From a symbol of grace, fertility, and maternal care they were associated with sexuality and lasciviousness.” [2]

Pope Gregory IX (ruling 1227–1241) Decreed that the Cathars, known to breed black cats,were the devil in disguise. In 1489 Pope Innocent VIII proclaimed­­ edicts to persecute all witches and kill all cats within Christian lands.
Inquisitor Nicholas Remy, in his 1595 Daemonolatreiae libritres, wrote that all cats were demons (Conway 1998)Carnival celebrations of deviance came to an end on Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, when a live cat was incorporated into a straw mannequin, King of Carnival, and given a ritual trial and execution.

In Burgundy young men passed around a cat, tearing its fur to make it scream as a form of “rough music.”

For the cycle of Saint John the Baptist, coinciding with the summer solstice, cats were tied up in bags, suspended from ropes, or burned at the stake

Parisians liked to incinerate cats by the sackful, while the Courimauds (cour a miaud or cat chasers) of Saint Chamond preferred to chase a flaming cat through the streets. In parts of Burgundy and Lorraine they danced around a kind of burning May pole with a cat tied to it. In the Metz region they burned a dozen cats at a time in a basket on top of a bonfire. The ceremony took place with great pomp in Metz itself, until it was abolished in 1765. (83)

One of the best documented instances of cruelty to cats was the “Great Cat Massacre” of the Rue Saint-Severin, Paris, which took place in the late 1730s (Darnton 1984; Twitchell 1989). The story was obtained from an account by Nicolas Contat, a worker who had witnessed the event. Several young male printer’s apprentices systematically slaughtered all the neighborhood cats, starting with a favorite pet of their master’s wife. According to Twitchell: In fits of laughter they gleefully bashed the heads of cats,snapped the spines of cats, squashed the bodies of cats, twisted cats at the midsection,and suffocated cats. They even improvised a gallows and hung cats by the neck. (1989, 48)

Lockwood connects violence against cats and 18c economic powerlessness…

“Printer’s apprentices were among the most exploited workers of the time, while a passion for pet cats was growing among the bourgeois, particularly the masters of the printing trade. Portraits were painted of pampered cats who were fed choice fowl, while the boys in the print shops labored with little hope of promotion to the ranks of journeymen. Cat abuse was already well established in the culture of the time, thus cats were an easy and seemingly appropriate target for this outrage.” [2]

..to be continued

[1] http://www.americanhumane.org/interaction/support-the-bond/fact-sheets/understanding-the-link.html

[2] http://animalstudiesrepository.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=sota_2005

#Catpunchers and Other Slaves

CatPuncher

I just became aware of the incidence of cat punching on social media. There must be some other venue or method that could provide such “punchers” the attention they seek – a way to acknowledge their uniqueness so they don’t resort to punching a cat in the head for attention ?

Gladiators/slaves were forced to fight one another for the amusement of the elite. Cat punchers are a new variety of slave – a mutation of our collective abuse. The big evil we pass from generation to generation is a belief in hierarchy and our compliance to and within it – maintaining an abusive system that supports the gladiator/slave/elite spectacle.

#Catpunchers are just as likely to run from challenging the actual mechanism of a system that has reduced them to abuse as are the elite…and the rest of us. The normalization of abuse places us in the grasp of the world system – keeping us politically, socially, economically impotent. Abuse can be subtle, like the belief that because I say  “I care about the world” I am making it different.” How crazy is it to believe that we are making a difference when we are just mouthing out words while providing no real solutions?

20,000 people signed an online petition to stop a cat punching Facebook page. Where are the same numbers demanding  the easy fix so that every child has enough to eat, or that 25,000 prisoners currently being held in solitary confinement in “Supermax” prisons around the United States be allowed to have human interaction?

I’m wondering what it takes to change ourselves – to stand up, and to create a new world?

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