Zuri kills creatures in 2200 BC. Yes, she offers an oblation, a prayer as it were, to thank the gods for providing the creature as food. Her partner Kablea hunts and kills deer, in part for the meat but perhaps more for the value of the antler. They need antler tools as well as meat. No doubt he also cut the throat of the cattle they slaughtered; we would never call them humane killers!
If we witnessed these deaths, we would be shocked, perhaps even faint. This is because we abrogate our responsibility to others. Would chicken taste different if we actually wrung its little feathered neck? So we literally chicken out. Would pork sausage appear less succulent with the squeals of the dying pig in our ears. Modernity is all about devious behaviour; hide the ugly reality and life is okay. Odd then, that some still see hunter gatherers as savages.
Today, we see ouselves as charitable, humane and caring. Yet on our watch, far more creatures now die than in the savage prehistory. Call it negligence, call it indifference, what does it matter; our car tyres still crush, our engines and chemicals poison, our plastic chokes. The creatures of the world are silently snuffed out. We are occasionally upset, as David displays a bird wrapped in suffocating plastic on BBC television. Then we run a hot bath, insensible to the local Stanpit Marsh drying out, which the water lubricates. We buy a car that can half our mileage cost so that we can afford to move out into the countryside and double the length of our commute.
I don’t profess to know the answer. Behavioural change is necessary for the many, not the few. It is the perennial issue of whether my little treat makes any difference. Can we cut back on the car, shower instead of bathe, cut out a beef dinner or two? Does it really matter what I do? I will be long dead when the Antarctic melts. Sadly, I still have to refer to Zuri as a pagan; what will they call us if we are still here in 4,000 years?