David Bruce: Resist Psychic Death — Advice, Animals

Advice

• Sassy, a magazine for North American teenage girls, once had a column titled “Dear Boy,” in which girls could write a question about relationships and a famous guy would answer it. One girl wrote, “There’s this guy I really like. He tells everyone that he doesn’t even like me as a friend, but when we’re alone together we do things that are reserved for people who think of each other as more than friends. What do I do?” The famous guy answering that question was Thurston Moore, vocalist and guitarist of the band Sonic Youth. He wrote, “The guy’s a jerk. I know that won’t discourage you from liking him, but he’s got a major personality flaw: disrespecting you. Next time you’re alone with him and he wants to get ‘friendly,’ tell him your friend Thurston Moore wants to kick his ass. And then tell him why.”

Animals

• A dog once saved the life of a Jew during the Holocaust. Ester Milshtein (a pseudonym) was first forced into the Warsaw Ghetto and then the Majdanek death camp near Lublin. Later, when she was 18 years old, she was transferred to the slave labor camp at Skarzynsko-Kamienna, where she made friends with the Kommandant’s dog, a Great Dane she called Kelev. She talked to him, petted him, and sometimes she even ate some of his dog food, which was better than the food she and the other prisoners ate. Unfortunately, she contracted typhoid, which made her lose her hair and which reduced her weight to fewer than 80 pounds. At this time, she was 19 years old. Frequently, the prisoners were made to go through a selection process in which they were divided into two groups: One group would live, and the other group would die. Previously, she had survived several such selection processes, but this time, because of the effects of the typhoid, she was put in the group of people who would be murdered. While she was in this group of people, the dog she had named Kelev came to her, and she petted him and talked to him. The Kommandant noticed what she was doing, and he ordered her to be moved to the group of people who would live. Not long afterward, she was sent to work in a munitions factory in Buchenwald, and nine months later the Red (Russian) Army liberated her.

• Eric Carle, author and illustrator of many children’s books, remembers when some apples fermented in a wood, producing apples with alcohol. Two brown bears smelled the apples, and they enjoyed a feast — a feast that made them tipsy. Being tipsy, they did what bears — and lots of human beings — do. They took a nap to sleep it off. Soon, the human beings in the area learned about the tipsy bears, and a hunter realized that it would be easy (but of course not sporting) to kill the two sleeping bears. However, someone had telephoned the police, who sent two police officers in a patrol car to keep an eye on the bears. The hunter arrived first and left his truck, carrying a gun to shoot the bears. Immediately after the hunter had gotten out of his truck, the police officers arrived. The hunter jumped back in his truck and drove off. The police officers kept an eye on the bears until they woke up, shook themselves, and safely wandered away.

• Following World War I was a period of unrest of Italy. During the unrest, 600 peasants, angry because they were out of work and hungry, broke down the gates of Enrico Caruso’s villa and entered. When Mr. Caruso asked for a search warrant signed by the mayor, the peasants responded, “We are the mayor.” He then asked that one car and enough food for 10 days be left behind, as after that time he and his wife would sail to America. The peasants wanted to take all the poultry, but Mr. Caruso asked that a white peahen be left alone, since she was sitting on 12 eggs due to hatch that day. The peasants laughed, said, “The signora is a peasant like us,” and left the peahen alone. They also left behind a car and food. A few days afterward, the peasants sent to Mr. Caruso a small amount of money and a note expressing regret and gratitude.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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