I have to admit to having an immediate visceral reaction to a recent post by a friend on facebook. The intention of the post was to spark debate. It read: ” Have you suffered in ANY way, through never having seen a living dinosaur? Are you spiritually depleted, physically worn, or emotionally torn? Can you name any of the hundreds of spider species that have died out and what an impact they may have had on your living space and brief life? Why, logically and impartially, all this fuss about Rhinos? They don’t even make good biltong.” At first I could not believe my eyes, thought I would ignore it, but couldn’t and before I knew it, I was hotly debating everything from our right as humans to determine the destiny of other species, to the use of pesticides that wipe out all insect life regardless of their role in the ecosystem.
On a purely academic level, I know this was an exercise in metal acuity and verbal showmanship. The person who posted it was interested in the argument, not necessarily the philosophy or belief behind it. This did not stop me from feeling that there were people out there who think pesticides are the best thing since sliced bread and could not care if some of our most amazing wildlife is wiped out. As far as they are concerned, if it’s not sitting in their living rooms making their lives a living hell, it’s not important. They are unable to extrapolate the long term consequences of species extermination or toxic spraying.
Human beings are the only living things on this planet that take without giving back. We are worse than parasites. Other parasitic species at least play a part in that they are also preyed upon. To make matters worse, we are parasites with beliefs. We believe that we have dominion over all the other living things on the planet. We believe we have rights, and damn the consequences. We believe that our wants are more important than the needs of every other species. So the wants and beliefs of people in Asia rate above the need for rhinos to live. Just live.
There are organisations who are making themselves heard, but they need support in order to do their jobs. Greenpeace has been an environmental force to be reckoned with for over 40 years. Click here to see some of their historic moments. When they started, they must have been characterised as a bunch of left wing hippy radicals, who just wanted to make trouble. They have been shot at, had their ship blown up by the French secret service and put their lives on the line for every human being on the planet. Even the people that will only care when they can’t make a cup of tea with their toxic water. Read some of their history – I was humbled when I realised how much these people have put on the line for the good of the planet. They have campaigns that cover everything from oil spills to Barbie packaging. Sadly, out of the 750 million facebook users, only 933 302 people follow them.
Every other organism contributes to the planet just by living its life. They don’t have to rant in a blog like this , recycle their consumables or worry that they are not doing enough to stop the genocide of other species. We, on the other hand, are playing catch-up to try and ameliorate the damage our species has caused.
Finally, facebook friend, thanks for the post. It inspired this blog entry, but I have to turn your original words on their head:
“Would the living creatures on this planet suffered in ANY way, through never having seen a living human being? Would they be spiritually depleted, physically worn, or emotionally torn? Would the billions of species that would have survived, care about brief human lives and their living spaces? Why, logically and impartially, all this fuss about people? They aren’t even positive contributors to the planet.”
The design above has been in my head a long time, and I finally got it down on paper in time for World Rhino Day – 22 September 2011. We will be fundraising, what about you?