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Pedigree sometimes stands for petty greed
Well if you haven't quite decided what to get your loved ones for Hanukkah or Christmas this year and you have an extra $1500 laying around, you can get a lot of conversation miles out of a munchkin. A what?!? A "munchkin." Like the little people that helped start Dorothy on her wonderful journey down the yellow brick road? No, like one of the featured stories this past Wednesday night on Prime Time Live. If you missed it, what I'm referring to are the 400 or so members of a newly recognized breed of cat. If you saw these creatures... or creations...(depending on your opinion of these novelties of nature), it is a sight that you will not soon forget. What I am talking about are cats whose legs are roughly half the length of normal domestic felines. In essence, it's a normal cat with the body proportions of a dachshund. And if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I don't believe I've made up my mind quite yet. But there are a number of aspects of this situation that I have certainly made up my mind about. To start with, whether this animal (and I'm referring to the very first munchkin from whose progeny this breed has developed) was a spontaneous mutation or a divine creation, it is not a creature that could survive and propagate on its own. It required human intervention to say, "Isn't that odd!?!" Then somehow this mentality blossoms. It's like the first kid on the block to bring home a truly unique and interesting toy. From there, lots of other kids want one (more than likely to get the same kind of attention that the original toy-owning kid received), and a fad is born. And the "makers," a.k.a. breeders, of this novelty are no doubt cashing in on the above mentioned human cognitive process of fad appeal. The term "pedigreed" is actually quite fitting. If you don't look at the spelling and you just say it, it sounds remarkably similar to "petty greed," which in some, though certainly not all, situations is fairly accurate. I wouldn't even mind the outrageous prices ($1500 per munchkin kitten), if a good proportion of the money went to fund a comprehensive longitudinal study to see what, if any, medical or behavioral problems develop in this still small, but rapidly growing, population of cats. If and when you see one of these natural oddities, an emotional response is almost inevitable. Some may laugh. Others may get angered. Personally, I was struck predominantly by a sense of sadness. For whatever drives the folly of the humans who are producing, and profiting from, these furry freaks, the furry freaks are still living, feeling beings. And when sensationalism and money are put before respect for life, it is a sad commentary on the nature of the human animal. So here we are rapidly approaching the heart of the holiday season, a time when "peace on earth and good will to all" does battle with good old-fashioned American materialism. And though I am an eternal optimist (and hence naturally biased), I cannot help feeling that the good in us is beginning to take a stronghold and is gaining true precedence. We are the custodians of life on this planet, and only when we put our minds and our hearts into the job will we truly prosper. And so, I wish you all the best in this holiday season as we celebrate the good in us... for all else is meaningless.