Baby elephant nuzzles her dead mother
“The fate of the sea turtle or the gibbon or the tiger is mine …. (A)ll that is in my universe is not merely mine; it is me. And I will defend myself.” ~ “The Fallacy of Wildlife Conservation” by John A. Livingston
Locker room contempt of women; Trump’s sons cheerily holding up the tail of an endangered elephant they killed; Trump mocking a disabled reporter; walls; threats to Muslims and immigrants — it is a montage of the setting we have created.
Animals, be they tame or wild, small or big, fierce or sweet, have known human arrogance at its worst. They must be so baffled that humans are so cruel to them. Run dogs on them. Dish out death when we fear it so much.
We humans are the Age of the Anthropocene. And gee it is lonely at the top. Trump, thin-skinned to every slight, well knows that coveted lone spot. It is conflicting to crave acceptance and be top bully at the same time. American Indians at least thanked the animals they deprived of life. “I will kill you now — but, hey, thanks.” Trump: “The billionaires and I will take it all — but, hey, thanks. It will be just great.”
We humans never wanted acceptance by lowly underlings on this planet. Absolute power knows no mercy. Humans are top of their own hierarchy, kings of their own devastation. Long ago, Descartes led the way, to our relief, and we left the animal kingdom behind and endowed ourselves as the one species with an immortal soul. The old white bearded guy in the sky said so.
That is covered in another couple of books by John A. Livingston: “One Cosmic Instant: A Natural History of Human Arrogance,” (1968) and “Rogue Primate” (1994).
was one of Canada’s most renowned naturalists. As professor emeritus of environmental studies at York University, he was the founding force behind Canadian Broadcasting Commission’s television series “The Nature of Things.”
Livingston chides in “The Fallacy of Wildlife Conservation,” “If there is no split between man and nature, then man is no more than an animal — and you know what that means. It means among other things, no human uniqueness in the matter of immortal souls…Close ranks brethren, your self-interest is on the line.”
We are the alien and hostile species, separated from all else. Our cities are monocultures, primarily comprised of humans, roads, buildings. So what if hundreds of millions of birds fly into glass skyscrapers? So what if — out there — millions of wild beings are bulldozed for fracking, coal, palm oil and tar sands; or killed in climate change wildfires and drought or shot for good-ol’-boy selfies; or mangled in traps and sewn into high fashion; or hung in slaughterhouses to have their throats slit by the billions? Most humans don’t care about them — they don’t know them.
Governments are complicit in the demise of other species — both in slaughterhouses and nature. And that is leading rapidly toward our own demise.
The alternative is mutual respect and love. Watch this three minute video (“Dillie the Deer, Love on Tiny Hooves”) about the love a rescued blind fawn brought to a woman fighting cancer.
Livingston writes, “I find it deeply and sadly ironic that the most numerous large mammal on Earth, and, in some ways the most successful, is so pathetically lonely and alien, even with respect to his own kind. The implications of this for other, nonhuman biologic beings are obvious.”
Livingston died in 2006. Today, 60 percent of large non-human mammals are threatened with extinction — including the Yellowstone grizzlies and wolves. Our choices have extinguished roughly two-thirds of wildlife of all (nonhuman) life on earth in 40 years. Will it take 20 more to destroy the last third to give us that lone status we apparently seek?
Livingston writes that in almost any shopping center in the “developed” world “you can buy the hide of lynx in the form of a hat, or gloves made from the skin of an unborn lamb; you can buy a coat made from seal whelps; you can buy a tropical fish in a metal cage and a Siamese fighting fish in a plastic bag; you can buy firearms and whammo ammunition and multiple hooks with barbs on them; you can buy snakeskin shoes and unspawned eggs of a sturgeon; you can buy the pulverized enlarged liver of a force-fed goose and the testicles of a bull and the brain of a calf; you can buy chemical biocides and plant growth inhibitors; you can buy the sterile eggs of an untrod chicken and the tongue of a feed lot steer that spent its last weeks hock-deep in its own manure; you can buy medicines made from the blood and viscera of laboratory animals.
“You can buy the Holy Bible and Declaration of Human Rights.”
And you can experience the presidency of Trump as the logical outcome of our death “culture.”
WOLF ACTION ALERT: The Endangered Species Coalition has a video and appeal to all Wisconsin citizens to call Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s office, with contact information. Ask her to stop her efforts to circumvent the Endangered Species Act listing of Wisconsin’s gray wolves. Please act now.
COUNTY DEER ADVISORY COUNCIL: Meetings are being held in every county Jan. 17-19. Please attend and urge that the few remaining wolves in the state remain protected under the Endangered Species Act as the best protection we have against chronic wasting disease, now in 25 percent of 2-year old bucks in Wisconsin. Locations by county here.
This column was originally posted in the Madison CapTimes on January 15, 2017.