Whitewater, Wisconsin is a place of considerable natural beauty. The finest buildings in our small town are nothing as against the country and forests nearby. Just outside the city, and in nearby towns, one finds farms with cows, chickens, goats, and domesticated animals that look like small llamas. They’re alpacas, and are docile, harmless, small camelids. They’re interesting to watch and profitable to farmers for their fleece.

I knew little about them, until I read a few years ago about how an alpaca from a nearby town was maliciously killed. That’s when I read that they’re part of the camel family, and learned about how their fleece is valuable.

Here’s a photo of two alpacas, so that readers otherwise unfamiliar can see their size & shape:

They’re interesting-looking, and adorable in the way that small mammals often seem adorable.

If nature, and interesting animals, were enough to uplift a person’s nature, then we’d never have crime in this part of the world. No people lives amid greater beauty than we do. There are many places as abundant, but none more so than our own. None of this is enough, however, to assure that people live well, live fairly and justly.

There’s a recent story from the AP about an alpaca in Ohio that was beaten and killed, as one in Walworth County, Wisconsin was once killed. See, Animal’s savage beating in Ohio ripples through local Alpaca community.

Here’s a brief account of what happened in Ohio, and earlier here in Wisconsin:

CINCINNATI – Tana Ward, who raises alpacas near Delavan, knows what Jeff Pergram is going through.

His alpaca, Masterpiece, was stolen, beaten to death with a makeshift club and dumped in a barn.

The same thing happened to Ward’s 5-day-old alpaca, Arianne, in 2007. “I came home one day from work to find her in the pasture, decapitated,” said Ward. “We think it was kids, but there wasn’t enough evidence to bring charges.”

In the Cincinnati case, two 17-year-old boys are charged in juvenile court with animal cruelty and other counts, and a 23-year-old woman is charged with complicity offenses…

I know, and you know, that some will say that those who kill living creatures this way are troubled. I’m sure that they are. I’m also sure that children or adults who kill other’s farm animals, destroying both an animal and a person’s livelihood, are particularly troubled: they’re dangerous.

(Here, I’m not relying on the notion that those who kill maliciously animals might kill people – the likelihood of that I’ll leave to criminologists.)

Instead, it’s worth considering what this means, as it is, on its own, and ruin others’ property. They still senselessly kill living things.

No one is surprised that this happens, although some malicious acts are notably shocking.

In this lack of surprise, there’s proof of the limits of design, natural or human, to ennoble all people. No matter how lovely the world around us, it will never be enough to keep some from violent or cruel tendencies. A great and singular book’s third chapter begins with this understanding, that even an earthly paradise is not enough to restrain people from grievous error.

Officials and planners, schemers and bureaucrats are quick, though, to trumpet the world around us as justification, as evidence, of greatness. It’s a false idea, and vainglorious claim. No plan or project will ever be enough, no plan or project will ever be as extraordinary as a single alpaca. The proudest bureaucrat, the finest schemer, will never create something as extraordinary as these these animals.

Men have done many things, but no one has or will do so much as match a single alpaca.

Yet, even something remarkable is incapable of moving someone from cruelty. If a living animal cannot, then no political plan or project will, either.

I’ve never thought otherwise. I would be contented, though, if silly, trivial, or vain people would stop declaring as true those notions that life around us shows are patently false.

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