Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A lesson from Discovery.

I was showing Puttachi animals on Discovery yesterday. The programme was about the Wild Hunters in Africa, and I was keeping up a running commentary.

"Look!" I said, "Look how fast the leopard is running - there, it caught the deer..... Look at the leopard eating the deer..."

Just then a hyena entered the scene and tried to sneak away the leopard's kill.

"Look Puttachi!" I said, "That hyena is trying to steal the leopard's food. Should you take something that belongs to others? No! Bad, bad hyena!"

The hyena, however, did manage to snatch the kill away from the leopard, and went a few paces with it, before it was frightened by an elephant. The hyena dropped the kill and ran off, and the leopard retrieved it and dragged it up a tree to feast on it at leisure.

"Yay!" I said, "Look, the leopard got back its food. Serves the hyena right!"

On the screen, the hyena was then shown sauntering away. The voice-over in the programme then said, "The hyena lost her chance. She is on the lookout again. She needs to find food before the end of the day to feed her hungry cubs."

Zap! The entire perspective changed. The poor hyena was looking for food to feed her cubs. That's all. She was doing what she is best at doing - scavenging!

The screen then showed two little hyena cubs sniffing the ground, looking for scraps of food. A lump appeared in my throat.

The next scene was of the mother hyena loitering near a pride of lions. The lions were resting after a full meal, and the hyena was apparently trying to see if she could manage to get hold of something leftover from the meal. But unfortunately for her, she got too close to the lions for comfort. A male lion came across, pounced on her, and clamped his mouth on her throat. Her legs twitched for a while, and then she lay still.

The voice-over said, "The lions will not eat this hyena. She was just treated like a pest that had to be eliminated. With this, the lion took not one life, but three. The hyena's cubs cannot survive without her." And the camera showed the two forlorn little hyena cubs again.

I had to sit still for a moment - struck dumb. To the leopard, and then the lions, the hyena was an intruder, a pest. But the hyena, on her part, was doing what she had to do. She was looking for food for her cubs.

We are so quick to judge people, and to attribute negative characteristics to them. Who knows what instinct, what compulsion, or what pressing need they are acting under!

I think everybody deserves the benefit of doubt.


Dhanya said...

Yes it's so true.. I have always felt we try to judge people mostly by views from others.. I always make sure I'm not prejudiced when I ve to interact with people..

Sandesh said...

The conclusion you give is true. Even I agree. But I see a wrong thing in the post. You mentioned that the lions were resting after Full Meals, how can they attack Hyena??

AFAIK, Lion was called the King of the Jungle for its Majesty. If you consider the capabilities of wild animals, Tiger stands much higher than a Lion. If a lion and a tiger start a fight, The probability of the Tiger winning it is much higher and in most of the cases it is the Tiger.

Inspite of this, the lion was made the King just because, it won't hunt once its full. Hence, If the Hyena was killed by the Lion, It wouldn't have had a full meal is what my point is all about.

Raj said...

As David Attenborough puts it, whenever a predator grabs a calf or a deer cub, " One mother's loss is another mother's gain".

Shruthi said...

Dhanya, you are spot on. I stopped judging people by others' views when I realized that the same thing was probably happening to me :D

Sandesh, please read my post carefully. I didn't say the lion "hunted" down the hyena. It got irritated by it loitering about, and so just killed it. Eliminated it.

Shruthi said...

Raj, as usual, you provide the right perspective. Thanks!

Pooh said...

Wonderfully written. Nature teaches us so much. I feel it is the best teacher. So many of my best friends today were people whom I really did not want to get to know earlier as I had heard other things about them. But I am glad I gave them a chance and today they are friends I could depend on.

M said...

so true!! Just like we judge people, maybe someone is judging us too!

Anonymous said...

We all are quick to pre-judge people who we come across our daily lives.

Reminds me of a story where a young couple will be traveling by train and there is an old man and his son who is about 30 years old traveling in the same coach as the young couple. The couple notice that the young man gets excitied at everthing he sees and hears through the window, rain, water,mountain, trees anything. The young couple get a little annoyed at this and they approach the old man ask him to take his son to the hospital and get treated. The old man then replies that his son was in the hospital for about 28 years and had lost his sight since he was about 2 years old and had an eye surgery to restore his vision and he is seeing everything for the first time in his life and apologizes to the young couple for any inconvinience his sons behavior may have caused. The young couple just realized what they had done and that was to react and judge people too soon not knowing the complete circumstances. Needless to say the young couple felt very ashamed for themselves.

Nice post.

New York.

Anonymous said...

There is a kannada saying which I think,says it well , "konda paapa tindu parihaara' [no sin to kill , if for food], all life must sustain on another.

Also true that it is hard to tell that to a little one!

Jayashree athe

Anonymous said...

Very nice post.
I remember watching a similar program on Discovery, too. And of course, I remember that lump in my throat too, only too well. I was a pretty new mom then, and just went and hugged my little one tight.

Kadalabal said...

We are so quick to judge people, and to attribute negative characteristics to them. Who knows what instinct, what compulsion, or what pressing need they are acting under!

I think everybody deserves the benefit of doubt.

yes above closing sentences tell the entire story and we often do this mistake of misjudgement in a hurry without knowing fully

nice commentary and at the end turned into reality of life great and superb
shruthi keep going

rajk said...

I love the way you took this seemingly unrelated topic and turned it into a lesson to be learnt in terms of human behavior.
Isn't this what a fable is?

TagAnon said...

speaking of rights and wrongs, i wanted to share this

how can one explain this to the kid!


well it is all in the nature ,one can learn so much by just observing a day in their life,it is all in the game..

vidya said...

Dear Shru,
Lovely post . All that you see or read or hear can change your views in a jiff. But very few can look at things the way you have done. But there are many more who can appreciate your thoughts. I am one of them!
Happy blogging.

jottingsnmusings said...

Spot on Shruthi! I've been guilty of both judging others and fearing their judgement needlessly.

Then I read a wonderful book 'A Fine Balance' that brought home the message about perspectives that you've pointed out. Have you read the book? Its absolutely amazing!

usha said...

very true!

Veena said...

wonderful write-up.......u r absolutely right this thing happens in our daily life too not only we misjudge but some of them face the same fate as the hyena.....they will not only be unable to protect people depending on them but also get hunted by the stronger ones than them......hard core reality of life

Rohini Kamath said...

Nice posts here. :) Enjoyed reading them. Stumbled on your blog looking for lakes of Mysore.

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