The following was posted to the Toteg Tribe list on 9/22/04. I thought it appropriate to post here as well.
I wrote this at the office today. I seem to be doing that an awful lot. I just want to say for the record, well... I wasn't exactly the happiest person when I wrote it. Standard disclaimers (IMO, etc) apply.
I was just listening to the radio and nearly blew my top, right here in the office.
One of the announcer's children won a fish at a carnival this past weekend, and the fish just died, the child was distraught. Another personality on the radio's response was "It's a FISH!" The announcer then mentioned that his child had just lost a kitten as well recently, and then followed it up with "these are the times that a child learns that it's just an animal..." I couldn't listen any further.
I remember this as a child. I remember animals dying, and mourning the loss. And I remember the adults saying "I do understand, but you've got to learn that..."
You know what? I don't think the adults do understand. And I think the child is right. The child makes no differentiation between a person and an animal; it was a beloved fellow spirit, and is worthy of their tears. The child does not make the distinction between human and animal, when it comes to intrinsic value. Yes, the child must learn that different species have different life spans, and that ours is longer than many other animals. But that doesn't make the animal somehow less than the rest of us.
Why is it that our society insists only human life is sacred?
That assumption is what's driving us to the edge of destruction. Either all life is sacred or none is, and by attempting to make it only human life, or say that human life is somehow *more* sacred, we destroy all around us. This assumption is what gives us the right to clear-cut forests to build our homes (killing habitats and occupants - I make no distinction between plants and animals and insects). It is what gives us the right to destroy entire species that we consider less than useful. If a person were to behave this way toward other people, he'd be locked up.
Please don't think that I'm saying killing anything is bad. Quite the contrary, life feeds on life; if you do not kill, you do not eat, and you die. But - all life is sacred. ALL.
Rather than teaching children that "it's only an animal" perhaps we should teach them that all life is sacred, and make death part of life and not just a disaster that touches us on very rare and traumatic occasions. Perhaps then the healing can begin - not just of the planet, but of ourselves. It's us who need the healing. If we can manage that, we will by definition have started reversing the damage.