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THE WAR OF UPSTAIRS AGGRESSION
October 16, 2009
 
What if we had the boy cats on the second floor and the girls could have the downstairs? Kibbie could stay in the basement. Kibbie is a visiting cat, the one who has brings our feline population up to an even six. She seems to have staked out the basement for her own use already, spending almost all her time down there. We can keep a litterbox on each level.

Q considered this three state solution. I guess we could try it.

So that is what we'll do. It is chilly today, and rainy, a day on which it might be possible to convince the girls to come inside for a look around. It seems to me that the boys ought to be able to keep to themselves, with food and water and latrine all close at hand, but I cannot be sure -- there is something in them that wants to make trouble sometimes. I saw them both chase Kibbie into a corner of the living room one day for no apparent reason. Younger and faster, she let out a screech that would have wakened the dead and bolted for the basement, leaving her two pursuers to fight another day. I could see them raiding the first floor periodically, just to keep things interesting.

Would that happen? Would they make war for no reason other than to make war? Absent the veneer of righteousness with which human beings coat our aggression, cats don't feel the need to explain themselves -- they shoot first and never get to the questions. But it is not for no reason, as far as they are concerned: they fight to establish turf or fend off potential attackers. Which, come to think of it, is mostly why we do it, too.

The stated mission in human warfare may be or may not be a moral one -- it usually sounds as if it were, though that is sometimes a cloak for something a good deal seamier. Whether it is or not, though, other things attach to it as time passes: questionable alliances, foolish strategies and their consequences, the normal pollutants of human greed and corruption, the unleashing of a violence which, once out of its box, is hard to control. The best mission can be smothered in an avalanche of unintended consequences. This probably happens more often than it does not.

Aware of how costly war is -- it costs people the only life on earth they will ever have -- and awash in love and fear for the flower of a generation, we are apt react violently to any questioning of the mission and the burrs that have stuck to it along the way. To question it seems to some of us to deny the worth of those who have sacrificed their lives for it. But I think it does not. I think it is quite the reverse: it puts a heavy onus us to be sure that what they died for was worth the incalculable price of losing them.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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