The gulf disaster is tragic. It is hard to grasp all the individual tragedies that go into such a large one…of course the people – our sympathy goes there naturally and easily. But each oil smothered or poisoned or starving bird, dolphin, tortoise is another suffering individual. As we focus on the stress on humans who are losing their livelihood, we should also focus on animals losing their lives, their mates, their babies. We just don’t see as much of that, as the cameras go where the people are. But out of sight, out of mind doesn’t erase the suffering.
I hear the President has asked for a “Listening Tour” of environmental organizations where higher-ups will travel around the country to hear environmentalists talk about how to connect children to nature. Part of that is helping them understand that we need to see, and value, each animal as an individual being with its own passion to live, its own griefs and tragedies that are vividly felt and also count. They are not just a “representative” of a species that we have to save - they are individuals in their own right.
If we truly enlarge our sense of community to include all living beings, and then treat them as members, that single shift in perspective would change many things, solve many “problems” that are a result of seeing only humans as individual beings. I would give a lot to be able to get that perspective across to the President in some emotionally impactful way. It is so easy to get lost in human politics and the need to save humans – but that will not do it. We need to understand that it is not just clean water and clean air…if we don’t learn to come from a place that values all life, we will not thrive in the end anyway because we won’t be attending respectfully to our place in the web of life and that respect is what will save us.