If writing requires the presence of a Muse in one’s life, then I readily admit that for some time now I have been a-Muse-d.
It has been a drought of enormous mental infertility that may not yet have ended. But, I am compelled to provide what I believe to be my own Muse-power and rekindle a fading will to reach out to friends and followers alike, regardless of outcome.
Last June, 6/9/15 to be exact, I posted a comment about some very fortunate chickens that prospered in Vermont and were the pride and joy of a very creative blogger who knows more about farming, chickens, and fine turns of phrases than I will ever know.
Following her lead, I reposted her delightful WP post, and found that I could relate well to the idea that chickens could, in fact, be happy. Very soon, my comment was taken into question by an esteemed former university colleague of mine, wondering if I had drifted off into a premature (I believe) form of senility. I hated to leave the discussion just “laying” there, so to speak, after a brief exchange I simply moved on to less important and universally un-interesting topics that have since occupied my blog. [by way of a brief aside, this same dear friend of mine yesterday celebrated his 90 something-eth birthday….and a happy day I hope it was Mort!]
However, the happy chickens never left my suspect consciousness, and by Happy Coalescence of factors, I am now ready to open the gate, let the chickens roam free and rejoice, while we take up the discussion once again, with due respect for philosophers, ancient and modern. I will champion the idea that chickens, indeed all sensate beings can, indeed experience happiness. It is essential to the Well-Being of such creatures. Perhaps even inanimate beings as well. Please continue.
First: Chickens of course are birds. We envy the freedom of birds who hop and chirp and fly about, bringing music, color, and stimulate endless curiosity among us as to their habits and whereabouts, their secret dwellings and their incredible migrations.
Clearly, not all birds migrate, sing or even fly or possess brilliant plumage. But in their own way, when they are doing what they unerringly do, they accomplish their function in life, which in turn urges them on to mate and hatch and feed their kind so their particular bird-type might continue to exist. They experience a Fulfillment of Type, which I shall now call Happiness.
But! You object. Chickens(in our most common experience) are not free to roam about…the Island of Kawaii being a notable exception… are not particularly adept at singing, don’t care much for migrating, and are generally considered to be listless in color and rather boring and predictable in their habits. Even so, the lowliest among them continues to contribute to the only meaningful and pleasant purpose as best they can, by engaging in endless attempts at preserving their identity, only to have their potential off-spring egg-napped by man or machine.
This is not Happiness. This is humanly induced frustration at a most primal level. Allowing that Fulfillment of Type is the essence of Happiness, they are among the most abject of creatures. Any wonder then that we have adopted sayings that describe unhappy human circumstances: oh he’s a bad egg; rotten eggs on your house or car are particularly loathsome; off-center humans are often referred to as mentally soft, or hard-boiled, or scrambled.
So yes, free roaming chickens, who can move about at will and eat what their ancestors ate, often supplemented with genuine, healthful foods by their caretakers and return to their clean and airy apartment nests, where they lay natural and nutritious eggs, have achieved a new level of Type Fulfillment and certainly are more at ease with their “lot” in life than their restricted cousins, who have been deprived of so many fundamental and health instilling Chicken Rights. In their own short-circuited way they are Happy.
Not convincing, you say.
Look in the mirror, I say.
What’s good for birds and especially chickens, is what we claim is Ultimately Good for us.
We are hatched, cared for, fed and sheltered and thrive when we can move about freely and do Human Things in truly Human ways. We have many added responsibilities but we need not confound them. When we find what ideas and behaviors bring us joy and satisfaction, then are we happy. Certainly not without frustration but having the ability to overcome obstacles. Living out our talents, whatever they may be and doing the best with what we have, is the essence of Fulfillment of Type for us.
I believe Happiness is a universal concept, in as much as anything that has a purpose, no matter how lowly or simple, when it is, as we often say today, doing it’s thing, it is happy. Bees being bees, butterflies being butterflies, plants thriving, machines operating as designed, trees interacting with oxygen, all these things can be truly Fulfilling their Type. The better the natural environment, the sooner Happiness follows. Humans have a unique responsibility of maximizing the beneficial conditions of our shared environment, as Happiness is a Universal Goal.
I realize Happiness is often more difficult to accomplish and my summary is necessarily limited, but coming to grips with Happiness is often at the heart of being able to Fulfill our own Types and respect the Happiness of others.
See the Bean and Bantam blog below for the original posting