Saturday, June 19, 2010
The Genie Of Fate
I am not sure who wrote this piece. I found it some years ago while surfing the internet,it resonated with me and I immediately realized that I had been singing the same song since I could remember. I share it here as I think it is important.
If the genie of Fate were to touch me with this particular magic, I trust that I would not have the arrogance to pretend that any solution I might offer could repair the wreckage of millennia. When the first human jammed the first dibble stick into the first patch of earth, forces were set in motion that can now be discerned in the stink of city air, the shine of corrupted rivers, the degradation of land, the silent deaths of species. That is a history beyond my capacity to change. Often as not, it is a history beyond my capacity to understand. Nevertheless, the process of change has to begin somewhere, and if the power were given me, then this is what I would do:
I would mandate that each newborn child be exposed to the wonder of the living earth from the first moments of its life- that among its first sights, sounds, smells, and touching should be the cries and odors and warmth of animals, the rustle of leaves, the majesty of trees, the feel of wind, the embrace of heat and the grip of cold, the spice of salt air, the sound of owls calling in the night.
I would have wings in the air all about the child. I would have the child brought to sit before flowers.
As the child grows, long before it is taught the practical matters of life, I would have it learn first the names of the wild creatures and other things with which its life has been joined: grasses and insects, birds and squirrels, clouds and rain, stones and stars. I would have the child taught that each of these deserves a reverence no less profound than that which should be given to the child itself.
At the earliest age possible, I would have the child brought before teachers, just as I have taught my own, who would explain how the community of life is a structure of interdependence, one life giving nurture to another , each supporting the whole- and that to abuse the privilege of residing here by threatening the future of any individual species in this fragile network is to place at risk all others.
From these same teachers, I would have the child learn that while death is both natural and inevitable and that the death of one individual often sustains the existence of another, death without purpose, death that is careless, death that is not sanctified by the solemn gratitude of the taker of life is a violation of all that could be called holy.
I would have the child learn, deep in the marrow of its being, that it has the power either to enhance or to degrade some portion of the world into which it has come, and that the exercise of that power has consequences that will outlive the child itself. In the mirror of every action, the child should be told, is the face of the future.
Not until these things have become so embedded in the child’s mind and heart that life would be incomprehensible without them- not until then would I introduce the child to the world of practical matters, of institutional learning, of the getting and spending of money, of the promise and perils of citizenship.
For the first time in human history, in short, I would have us produce an entire generation of young people whose understanding of their place in the long narrative of humanity’s sojourn on this planet is secure, and whose responsibility to the world around them is something they assume without question.
For only through such a generation could we truly hope to change the course of history and redeem our speciesThe millennium is here. Let us take stock of who we are and where we are going. Is it acceptable to weep not only for human suffering but also for the rampant misery of other animals with whom we share the planet? Can we shed tears for Sissy, the severely beaten elephant at the El Paso Zoo, the kicked and abused elephants and chimpanzee, Trudy, at the Chippenfield Circus in England? Can we also weep for the millions of animals in laboratory prisons, the billions of animals tortured and slaughtered for food and clothing? Can we sincerely mourn the destruction of the natural world, the vanishing forests, wetlands, savannas and bodies of water? Hope these twelve mantras will make a difference for future generations:
One: Compassion and empathy for animals beget compassion and empathy for humans. Cruelty towards animals begets cruelty toward humans.
Two: All life has value and should be respected. Every animal owns her or his own life spark. Animals are not owned as property. All living creatures deserve these basic rights: the right to life, freedom from torture, and liberty to express their individual natures. Many law schools offer courses in animal law. If we agree, we would interact with animals in rather different ways. We shall need compelling reasons for denying these rights and ask forgiveness for any animal we harm.
Three: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Imagine what it would be like to be caged, trapped, restrained, isolated, mutilated, shocked, starved, socially deprived, hung upside down awaiting death or watching others slaughtered. Biological data clearly show that many animals suffer physically and psychologically and feel pain.
Four: Dominion does not mean domination. We hold dominion over animals only because of our powerful and ubiquitous intellect. Not because we are morally superior. Not because we have a "right" to exploit those who cannot defend themselves. Let us use our brain to move towards compassion away from cruelty, to feel empathy rather than cold indifference, to feel animals' pain in our hearts.
Five: Human beings are a part of the animal kingdom not apart from it. The separation of "us" from "them" creates a false picture and is responsible for much suffering. It is part of the in-group/out-group mentality that leads to human oppression of the weak by the strong as in ethnic, religious, political and social conflicts. Let us open our hearts to two-way relationships with other animals, each giving and receiving. This brings pure and uncomplicated joy.
Six: Imagine a world without animals. No birdsong, no droning of nectar searching bees, no coyotes howling, no thundering of hooves on the plains. Rachel Carson chilled our hearts with thoughts of the silent spring. Now we face the prospect of silent summers, falls and winters.
Seven: Tread lightly. Only interfere when it will be in the best interests of the animals. Imagine a world where we truly respect and admire animals, feel heart-felt empathy, compassion and understanding. Imagine how we should be freed of guilt, conscious or unconscious.
Eight: Make ethical choices in what we buy, do and watch. In a consumer-driven society our individual choices, used collectively for the good of animals and nature, can change the world faster than laws.
Nine: Have the courage of conviction. Never say never. Act now. Be proactive, prevent animal abuse before it starts. Dare to speak out to save the world's precious and fragile resources. Live as much as possible in harmony with nature, respecting the intrinsic value of all life and the wondrous composition of earth, water and air.
Ten: Every individual matters and has a role to play. Our actions make a difference. Public pressure has been responsible for much social change, including more humane treatment of animals. "Whistle blowers" have courageously revealed intolerable conditions in laboratories, circuses, slaughterhouses and so on, often at the expense of their jobs:
Henry Spira organized peaceful demonstrations that led to the abolishment of the Draize test in which rabbits were harmed to learn about the effects of eyeshadow. His efforts also led to the formation of centers devoted to the development of non-animal alternatives, sponsored by the cosmetic companies themselves.
Public pressure greatly reduced veal consumption and led to Sears, Roebuck, and Company ending their sponsorship of Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. Helen Steel and Dave Morris took on McDonald's in the longest trial in British history (the McLibel case) and showed that they exploit children with their advertising and are "culpably responsible" for cruelty to animals.
Eleven: Be a passionate visionary, a courageous crusader. Combat cruelty and catalyze compassion. Do not fear to express love. Do not fear to be too generous or too kind. Above all, understand that there are many reasons to remain optimistic even when things seem grim. Let us harness the indomitable human spirit. Together we can make this a better world for all living organisms. We must, for our children, and theirs. We must stroll with our kin, not walk away from them.
Gather together your loved ones, garden , grow your own meat , find another alternative to your power sources, your water sources. Get ready for what will come, when it comes .
A millennial mantra: When animals lose, we all lose. Every single loss diminishes us as well as the magnificent world in which we live together. In times of fear, most people step back and wait to see what others are going to do and what's going to happen. Some people, though, see the situation as an opportunity to step forward and take a stand.