Of Russian/Jewish descent, I first appeared in San Francisco, according to my parents. I only vaguely recall the day. I have, by turns, enjoyed and suffered ever since. This has molded my character and outlook. I must assume that human nature is given to these sharp twists of perception that make for great moments of precious abandon or oblivion, and other moments utterly shaped by the acute recognition of pain and suffering throughout the world. From my first stirrings I vividly recall asking the same question: Why must there be suffering in the world? Might it not be avoided?
As to the above referenced question, about suffering and how to remedy its impact … I recall my first encounter with a caged wolf at the San Francisco zoo. I must have been two or three years old. That enraged, frustrated, desperate animal gazed upon me through the bars condemning it to purgatory with the most memorably forlorn eyes; eyes, groping questions, incredulity that even today remain with me at the core of my lonely horror. Later on, as my personal indignation at the behavior of my fellow species grew, environmental activism was simply the only option to me as one endowed with a conscience. I grew up with companion animals (we called them “pets” then)—cats and dogs, turtles and fish. By my early teens, I was absorbed by philosophical readings, particularly Albert Schweitzer, his cousin Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Hegel, Marx, Schopenhauer, Samuel Beckett, Joyce,