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Not even just a little nibble?
Posted March 27, 2009

Cannibalism. When we hear this word the first thing that pops into our minds is a small little tribal man covered in war paint with a bone through his nose roasting a person over a huge blazing fire. But, that is not the case.

What would happen if you were trapped on a raft in the middle of the ocean, on a deserted island, or a remote mountain pass with no way out? Would you resort to cannibalism? Or just let yourself die when there is a food source right before your eyes?

We can eat certain plants, berries, and even dirt. But if we pick the wrong type of naturally grown source we could be dead in a few minutes, hours or days. Do you want to end up like Chris McCand­less from “Into the Wild,” who died a slow and painful death in the forest when he ate the wrong type of plant to fight his hunger? Or would you resort to consuming a safe meal, high in protein and fats, that would quickly replenish your body and sustain your life for a bit longer?

The problem with cannibalism is that the tales and myths we hear involve raids of men and women who are brutally killed to be eaten for no reason. Or crazy psycho killers who eat the people they murder because a few screws are loose in their brain. Rarely does one ever hear of the stories where cannibalism was used in a survival sense.

The Donner Party on Dec. 15, 1846, resorted to cannibalism when they ate one of their dead in order to survive the harsh winter. If the people of that wagon train had not resorted to survival cannibalism, the survivors would have never made it out alive.

In 1972 a plane carrying 45 Chilean rugby players crashed in the Andes Mountains. They tried to survive in 30 degree-below-zero temperatures during the night with only a bit of plane food. But with 12 dead in the crash, the teammates decided to eat their fallen friends to survive. After 72 days of isolation, 16 survivors beat the cold death in the Andes and it was done by cannibalism.

Now I am not saying when you get stranded somewhere to immediately commit murder and kill whoever is with you so that you can eat. But why if something has naturally killed one of your own would you not try to save yourself? I am sure they would eat you if they were alive and you were dead. Have you not heard the term “survival of the fittest?”

Honestly, if you are reading this and thinking that there is no way on this blessed earth that you would resort to cannibalism I have one question for you.

Are you Catholic?

If you are a traditional Catholic you commit the act of cannibalism every Sunday during your service through the process of communion. According to Catholic doctrine, when one eats the bread (Eucharist) and drinks the wine, it enters the body it turns into the real body and blood of Christ. Technically you are eating another person. Now, yes, while many say it is symbolic, others say it is a communion of the spirit or body.

So there you have it, one of the largest religions in the world practices cannibalism and they do not even realize it. So how hard would it be to resort to cannibalism if you are trying to survive? I think when it came down to it, every one of us would find survival mode within us and resort to this unspoken act. And don’t pretend you would not.

Samantha Sincock, a freshman journalism major, is Web editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at samantha.sincock@laverne.edu.