A while ago, I wrote a short post called Road Kill Makes Me Sad.
Actually, every cruelty or even disinterest in the fate of our animal friends makes me sad. In Toronto, they lock up the garbage bins – does this mean raccoons now starve?
Richard Louv coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder. In 2015 the Oxford Children’s Dictionary dropped around fifty words related to nature – deleting acorn but adding broadband. Is our increasing alienation from the natural world killing our concern for it?
At our house, we do our part by feeding the birds, gardening without chemicals, planting native plant varieties that are helpful for insects, and every night we put out a little dinner of dry cat food and kitchen scraps for the possum or raccoon or feral cat – whatever happens to pass through our yard.
The great humanitarian Albert Schweitzer wrote this:
Hear our humble prayer, O God,
for our friends the animals,
especially for animals who are suffering;
for any that are hunted or lost or deserted
or frightened or hungry;
for all that must be put to death.
We entreat for them all thy mercy and pity
and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion,
gentle hands and kindly words.
Make us ourselves to be true friends to animals
and so to share the blessing of the merciful.
I would add a prayer for the trees, the ocean, and every other part of the ecosystem that is suffering from the folly and greed of mankind.
A recent report from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the American Bird Conservancy made the headlines with the news that in the last fifty years, the number of birds in North America has been decimated. This is on the heels of reports from the last couple of years about the disappearance of the flying insect population from the world scene.
Yeah that’s normal.
Now, I would have expected we would have had a report about declining bird populations when maybe they had noticed that 500,000 or so had left the building like Elvis. But no, they wait until THREE BILLION are gone. WTF?
The more astute observers among you will note that fifty years ago, world population was 3.7 billion people, and now it is 7.7 billion.
For my money you can have the people. Give me back the pulchritudinous birds.
To my knowledge he had never been to Russia, and I can’t recall him studying psychology, but he had perfected to his advantage Pavlov’s experiments.
Demonstrating a superiority to dogs and humans, my cat turned me into a salivating, knee jerk slave to his desires.
Had he been reading from the dozens of hypnosis books which line our shelves?
With a simple movement of his right arm and paw, his calculated movement to pull the decorative ceramic clay fish off the bathroom wall and smash it, had me running to the sink to turn on the tap.
He drank, and then with a degree of self satisfaction only seen in the eyes of Enron’s Kenneth Lay before he was caught, arrested and dead, my cat walks away – thirst satiated, owner controlled, his superiority intact and as inscrutable as ever.
Oh Kashmir. Wise and wonderful small-headed genius cat. My green eyed beauty. How I miss you.
“In an age when climate crisis is only growing in urgency, Terry Tempest Williams offers some explanation for how we might have ended up here. She says we’re losing a heightened curiosity about — and awareness of our interconnectivity with — the natural world. And, in turn, “we’re losing an ecological literacy,” she says, for the flora and fauna around our homes — from the migratory behaviors of birds to the life cycle of coyotes.”
“But the loss of this ecological literacy is not just a loss of our knowledge about the natural world — it’s also potentially a severance of our ability to learn from it. Biologist Robin Wall Kimmerer models the richness that comes from examining the natural world as we might examine ourselves. “Thinking about plants as persons, indeed, thinking about rocks as persons, forces us to shed our idea [that] the only pace that we live in is the human pace,” she says. “It’s very, very exciting to think about these ways of being which happen on completely different scales and so exciting to think about what we might learn from them,” she says. Kimmerer models this in her studies and writing about moss, which she calls “good storytellers” and “superb teachers about living within your means” for their ancient history here on earth.”
“Thinking at various scales, as Kimmerer does, can lead to fascinating discoveries. On this week’s show, acoustic biologist Katy Payne shares how her research into how whales and elephants communicate required her to examine sounds that humans are not capable of hearing on their own. And the experience of listening attentively to these giant animals over decades has taught her something about being human. “We are not at the pinnacle of human knowledge,” she says. “We are just beginning.”
“There’s a humility about humanity that surfaces in all three of these conversations. I wonder if it’s the same kind we may need to hold closer as we’re faced with the climate crisis — a reminder that we are not the only ones who inhabit this earth.”
Editor, The On Being Project:”
I subscribe to a website called The Pause. You can check it out here.
Over the years as I have considered different apocalyptic scenarios, death by plastic was completely off my radar.
Restraint and refinement are not mankind’s strong suits. The opposites – excess and barbarism – has resulted in 8 billion metric tons of plastic waste produced since 1950.
And there is more everyday, in every store, in every country.
Since there are gaps in my ability to understand everything, perhaps there is an alternative explanation for the plastic rain. Something other than climate collapse and ecosystem ruination.
Words from The Wizard of Oz are running through my brain. Specifically, the final words of the wicked witch of the west:
“What a world; what a world.”
If you somehow missed this good news story, you can read about it here.
The birds in my yard have just had their welfare payments reduced. In my zeal to be St. Francis of Assisi, I have realized that I might actually go bankrupt. Honore de Balzac said that behind every great fortune lies a crime. Behind some bankruptcies, there are dozens of well-fed squirrels and birds. The amount spent on birdseed in the eight months from November until now totals what some people spend sending their kids to university.
So now the cycle is one day with feeders filled, and one day where they are forced to forage. Since I have probably interfered with nature and increased their populations, the foraging day might look like a scene from Lord of the Flies.
Feeding the birds is a good thing to do, but being a helicopter parent to wildlife was not a good idea. So now they are relearning bird homesteading skills, and I still help them on alternate days.
Sometimes they are in places we haven’t looked at in a long time. Like picture books for children.
When the noise of modern life gets too overwhelming, I find repose of mind and heart by silently turning the pages of some beloved books. Mostly beautiful illustrations and not much text.
The Velveteen Rabbit; The White Cat and the Monk; The Storm Whale; The Cinder-Eyed Cats; The Lion and The Bird; Over the Rooftops, Under the Moon; The Polar Express.
I don’t know if many adults are still capable of having their souls nourished by books like these, but in this house, we still hear the bell.
This makes me cry every time I watch it.
For all the animal lovers out there, click on the video in the link.
It helps me to see the poor expired creature as a nice meal for a meat eating bird.
I can’t dwell on it and I won’t write about all the sad things I have seen. I will just say – Hooray for the carnivorous birds.