Elephant Madness

I’d had an idea in mind as I framed this post as a guest blogger for The Big Green Purse, and – as I usually do – I held it against the tapestry of posts already on the Big Green Purse site. When I saw the image of the slain elephant, my own approach vanished. I didn’t want to read the article; I didn’t want to see the image; I didn’t want to hear the rationale behind the slaughter. I certainly didn’t want to see GoDaddy’s CEO standing over this magnificent creature in a way reminiscent of my earliest school days, when images of cave men dragging off their women by pony tails just like mine adorned the inside covers – front and back – of my first Ancient History book. At the time, I shed huge kindergarten tears over the injustice of it all; my teacher Miss Meyer, frustrated and angry because the M & M’s bribe hadn’t served to soothe my heart, called my mother to come take me home.

My tears are softer as an adult, and sadder. Tonight the wrinkles of my face served as riverbeds for them, and they coursed, hot and salty, within the borders. Despite the catch in my throat, I picked up the phone, cancelled my GoDaddy account, and, with gratitude to those who had done the research, registered www.restoringwaters.ndmdev.com with another domain host. Only as my cracked open heart began to yield to a deeper sorrow, did I begin to consider the bigger questions:

~ Given what the ecological sciences have taught us about the interconnectedness
and interdependence of all life forms, how can we keep doing what we do?

~ How can we take a life such as this, and think for a moment that it doesn’t matter?

~ When will we come to understand that the slaying of an elephant is an assault
of the most heinous kind, not only on this particular elephant, but upon all life
forms including ourselves?

That the earth community exists not as some large number of distinct species, but as an integrated, interdependent system – John Muir referred to it as a living web – is not new news. But most of us have yet to understand the implications. Everything matters. Every life form is an invaluable participant in the health of the eco-system(s). The health of the system itself is a direct reflection of its biodiversity.
In an essay written not long before his death, the writer Thomas Berry said, “ The deepest cause of the present devastation is found in a mode of consciousness that has established a radical discontinuity between the human and other modes of being. . . the other-than-human modes of being have reality and value only through their use by the human.

“In this context the other-than-human becomes totally vulnerable to exploitation by the human, an attitude that is shared by all four of the fundamental establishments that control the human realm – the political, economic, intellectual, and religious.”

It’s become very clear over the past few years, that we’re not responding to the wealth of data that the sciences are offering. And so I’ve begun to reframe this information in terms of its spiritual dimension – spiritual, not religious. To the extent that we have lost our connection to the natural world of which we are an integral part, we have become a lost people. A man who can slay an elephant because s/he was considered a “problem” and then pledge to do it again, has become spiritually untethered and dangerous.

Berry writes, “We are born of the earth. We are earthlings. The earth is our origin, our nourishment, our support, our guide. Our spirituality itself is earth-derived. If there is no spirituality in the earth, then there is no spirituality in ourselves.”

We are all born of the earth, all made of the same stuff. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson reminds us that all life forms are of star dust. “We are in the universe,” he says, “but even more important, the universe is in us. I don’t know any deeper spiritual feeling. What we’re looking to is a radical change of the collective human heart. We can’t accomplish that until we as a species are willing to release our archaic notion that we sit at the apex of the created world. Our greening efforts require it. Our politics require it. Our education requires it. Our economics require it. And our souls are hungry.

Suggested Action Response

If you have a Go-Daddy account, I suggest you cancel it, and tell them why. If you would like replacement information, respond to this post, and I will supply it.

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