Waging War on the Defenseless

Posted by Whit Barringer , Sunday, February 03, 2008 9:54 AM

This is my response to a World Wildlife Fund campaign to halt the leasing of Alaskan land which may lead ("may" meaning "it definitely will, but we don't know the extent") to the further endangerment or possible extinction of the polar bear in that region. Usually, WWF gives a generic letter that any amateur activist, like me, can send to an influential party. However, I felt moved to write something personal (which is seen as more influential than some email that 50,000 people send out just by filling out their names and pressing "send"). This is what I wrote to Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior. It's short and sweet, but oftentimes those are the most effective messages.

Dear Honorable Kempthorne,

While the following is a generic message from the World Wildlife Fund,
I would like to personalize this by saying that the United States, in
all of its peace-keeping, has continuously waged war on those that
either cannot defend themselves or ask for help. The U.S. is a
country most able to invest in renewable energy, but it instead wishes
to give itself a "black gold" fix that is temporarily
satisfying and permanently damaging.

I don't mean to insult anyone's intelligence, but this oil land-lease
is being done hastily and without the proper foresight. Wait until we
know what danger this deal proposes, and allow stringent measures to
be taken on those who plan to drill there. This isn't just about
money and oil. This is about those who are already there, whether you
see them as human, animal, or acceptable losses. The role of every
human being, or at least one of them, is to care for those who cannot
care for themselves. This is the ultimate test of that, and it would
be absolutely appalling for the U.S. to fail this test, when it has
both the ability and the means to save what could be forever lost.

I always get upset at these things. My blood starts boiling and steam comes out of my ears. I also feel the urgent need to cry, but I hardly ever let myself do so. What are we doing to ourselves? Why don't we actually invest in something, rather than letting the current powerful entities run us into some sort of apocalyptic world where we simultaneously find out that there's no oil, no water, no animals, no energy, no way to save any goddamn thing, and no one to ask to help because we were the ones everyone else went to and asked first? What happens when our blessed world leadership and policing leads us straight to an end that could have been completely avoided?

More than likely, this will be another battle lost in favor of making money. More than likely, we can't save the animals in Alaska, the rainforests, the deserts, the forests, the mountains, or anywhere. If we save them, it's because they amuse us. Not because they were alive in the first place, but because they are cute and keep well in a zoo.

Why don't people understand that once something dies, it doesn't come back? We are on the verge of losing so many things because we haven't been able to grasp that one concept. Perhaps we have realized it, and we've become okay with it. "Something else is dying? That's a shame."

We are careless, reckless, and altogether the dumbest species on the planet. Every other species knows how to hunt for its fill without throwing off the very system that seeks to feed it. We can't even do that. We overeat because we feel that we have the right. We go hunting for sport so we can have a stuffed trophy. We poach animals for their fur and disregard any other impact they could have had on our lives.

We are stupid, stupid creatures. As hard as Mother Nature has been trying to kill us off (have you ever thought that all of the viruses, all of the bacteria, all of the complex evolving illnesses that have plagued humans were created by nature to save itself? that sickness and disease is nature's way of self-defense?), we've been resilient. As much as death hurts us, only a death of our own warrants a proper burial. Only our household pets get so much consideration. I guess that means that the solution is for all people to become deeply attached to something in the wild, and be good stewards of its keep.

The problem with me is that I am deeply attached, and I am quite aware I am part of the killing.

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