By Joyce Alexander RNP (retired)
Back when I was a teenager, I had an opportunity to travel to Africa, where I met a man who was to become world famous, and was almost single handedly responsible for the saving of both the black and white rhinos, Dr. Ian Player (the brother of golfer Gary Player.) Recently, the belief of rhino horn as a “cure all” has gotten to where the price for a single horn can top $400,000. This has caused the poaching of these wonderful animals, which still number less than 5,000 black rhinos and about 21,000 white rhinos, most of them located in South Africa.
I feel very privileged to have known Dr. Player when he was simply “Ian” in a pair of green parks department uniform shorts, with a wonderful library of African history in his home that he freely shared with a very young and very green little girl from Arkansas. I have also been privileged to know “Dr. Player” a very wise mentor who has loved me all these years.
Dr. Player and I have stayed in touch by e-mail for the past 15 or so years (isn’t the Internet wonderful folks!), and though he is now nearly blind and very frail, he still writes and speaks about his passion, the rhino. He recently sent me a copy of an article that quoted him:
Ilegal poaching and the endangered rhino, on Condé Nast Traveler.
In the article, Dr. Player talks about how he is emotional about the salvation of his beloved rhinos, but he is not sentimental. WOW! I thought “How profound!” As Dr. Player points out in the article, while the embargo on selling horn may be “sentimentally” right, the sentiment is killing rhinos as more and more are slaughtered to meet the high dollar demand for the rare horn. But if all the stored up horn were dumped on the market, it would meet the demand for product and bring down the price and stop the slaughter. (It would be hoped, anyway.)
Results of sentimentality
Well, what, you may ask, does that have to do with psychopaths?
Our emotions are bound up with the psychopaths in our lives. In some cases our DNA is shared with these people as well. But we must not let the sentimentality of the situation overcome us. We can maintain our passion, our emotional response, but we still have to do what it takes to handle the situation in a realistic manner and not be overcome by sentimentality.
If you were here a few years back, you may have heard me rant about the “no horse slaughter” bill passed as an add-on to a Senate bill that forbade the slaughter of horses by USDA for human consumption. The people who pushed this bill through had the greatest of intentions (and we all know what the road to hell is paved with), because they loved horses. They did not really take into consideration what the real life result of their sentimental law.
In 2007, 100,000 horses in the US were processed into meat. They were old horses, horses who were injured and unable to be ridden, horses with bad dispositions, and just horses that should never have been bred. Each one is 800 to 1200 pounds of meat on the hoof, just like my cows, and the meat is prized in many countries. It takes between $1,000 and $3,000 per year to feed and vet a horse. So multiply those 100,000 horses by say even $1,500, and you’ve got a substantial amount of cost to care for horses that have no use or worth.
So what happened when the “market” price for these 100,000 horses went from 75 cents per pound for meat to $5 per head? People turned their unwanted horses loose in the national forest to starve, or out on the roadways to be hit by cars. Then after the ban went into effect, a new market niche developed where these horses were now rounded up by dealers, put on trucks and shipped to Mexico for Mexico’s version of “humane” slaughter.
The unintended consequence of the sentimental decision to outlaw the humane processing of horses for meat for human consumption was that more horses suffered much worse deaths than a stun gun. I have personally bred animals (cattle) for beef, and there is no one who is more passionate or emotional about the care and keeping of her animals than I am. I accompanied my animals to the USDA slaughter facility and stayed there with them so they would not be afraid. And God help the stockyard yahoo who tried to use an electric cattle prod on my animals! I was very emotional about my animals, but I was not sentimental.
Sentimental about psychopaths
Unfortunately, where it came to my family members, I clung to the sentimentality of dysfunction. With my animals, I wanted them treated well, but at the same time, if an animal was wild, aggressive or tried to hurt me, I had no problem with sentimentality, I sent it to the butcher on the next truck! But not so with my family members who gored me!
I never had a problem setting boundaries for my oxen, and I stayed alpha in the pack of collies. If an ox even touched me with a horn (this is a real “no no” for a lower member of the bovine herd to do to a superior member who will respond with force) I had to respond immediately and with enough force to make them remember that I was the boss. It isn’t really very smart to sentimentally let a 2,000-pound animal be the boss or even think they might want to try to be. It also isn’t very smart to sentimentally allow a spouse or other abuser continue to use and abuse you, no matter how much you love them.
We may be very emotional about our situations, we may be emotionally devastated by what has happened to us as a result of what the psychopath has done in our lives, but we can’t afford to be sentimental about it. We have to make reasonable and rational decisions, devoid of sentimentality, about what to do to “fix ourselves” and “fix” our situations.
That may mean leaving in the middle of the night with a suitcase and our purses, or it may mean any number of decisions that we may not have even considered before. It may mean finding new homes our dog or cat because we can’t take them with us, or it may mean a divorce when we took vows that we meant “for better of worse, til death do us part.” It may mean going no contact with our parents, sibs, lovers, husbands, wives, children or friends.
We may be very emotional about some of these decisions, but we can’t afford to be sentimental. We have to do what we have to do.