Seize the day, but consider who’ll inherit your mess

Posted by Tom Camfield

Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.”—Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862. If he’d only have known.

Animals, birds, fish all migrate—some seasonally, some permanently.  With many species, global warming and climate change are playing a major role. Deer in recent years have instinctively moved out of their ravaged woodland homelands where, among other things, dogs have been imported and allowed to run free in a primal manner. Guns are fired.

There’s a certain Buddhism/Jainism non-harming aspect of my personal soul. And in my family, we save earthworms stranded in the rain and carry household  spiders to the safety of outdoors . . . capture wayward indoor hornets in a drinking glass and return them to freedom. 

BUT HUMAN KIND IS THE CATALYST in the more prominent issue of deer having pragmatically adjusted to the amoebic-blob encroachment of human civilization. So the least Jean and I and others like us can do is adapt to the new situation represented by these innocent creatures who themselves have been forced to adapt. There’ll be 10 or 12 deer around our yard today, including fawns. We’re all in this existence thing together. Empathy lives at many homes like ours.

It would be hypocritical for us critter sympathists not also to extend assistance in whatever form possible to human immigrants from other parts of the world. Let’s just compare this fawn at my front door to the baby born to that Honduran mother on the recent refugee caravan north through Mexico, fleeing brutality in her homeland and seeking to find refuge in the U.S. The bureaucratic horrors this woman likely will encounter will not be under any endorsement of mine or of anyone in my extended family (for which I can speak with confidence). Procedures both legal and informal will be tainted by the Trump administration, which—let’s face it—is hateful toward all types of non-white immigrants. If nothing more, we can champion change and vote accordingly (and occasionally put our money where our mouths are). 

The same applies to the homeless who have been tossed aside by our domestic society and are on the outside looking in. 

I’m casting my attitudinal lot with a perceptive individual who died 156 years ago—Henry David Thoreau: “If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law . . . Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the government machine.”  I believe we have reached the point of that first step of rebellion against a repressive dictatorship that began after the 2016 election.

“How long have you lived here?” a guy asked me the other a day;  “Since 1929,” I responded. However, generally there is this constant growth and movement within our own country. Many of us don’t like so many strangers taking over “our“ backyard year after year. But . . .“This land is your land, this land is my land/From the California to the New York island/From the Redwood Forest, to the gulf stream waters/This land was made for you and me . . .”—song lyrics by Woody Guthrie. I can dig that, but everywhere seems to be getting a bit overcrowded!

HOW TO STEM THE TIDE of human expansion? Nuke a few countries viewed as “sh—hole” by Donald Trump? I’d lean more myself toward respecting women’s reproductive rights and offering government subsidies for male vasectomies. Maybe penalize, tax-wise, rather than granting exemptions to families with more than 2 or 3 children. 

“Economic progress” for all via expanding population is a self-serving myth promulgated by conservative industrialists—ever more consumers and all of that misrepresented vicious circle. Think about it. As for the world situation, over-population is a form of pollution much like the global warming of which it is a major basic cause. Pointing a finger at China or Africa as justification for continuing to charge forward competitively with rapacious greed is just arrogant stupidity. This is one of those “physician, heal thyself” type of things in which we should be leading the way.

Closing our borders to others, al a Donald Trump, might fence off and reserve our own back yard for exclusive self-destruction for a time by us, the present occupants. But that alone would do nothing toward saving the world of which we are a part. 

The toe bone’s still connected to the foot bone, the foot bone to the heel bone, the heel bone to the ankle bone, the ankle bone to the shin bone, et cetera—all the way to the bone head that doesn’t see the connection. 

Proving that things are definitely relative is the fact that Thoreau—born in the sparsely populated world of 1817, a bit over 200 years ago, who had the solitude of woodlands and Walden’s Pond—wrote: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”

They had some pretty smart people around in olden times. We could sure use some of their sort around in this day and age. 

On the modern side, I—curmudgeon that I am—do love more individuals than not if I really get to know them. Many of them have lived, are living, lives worthy of a book. But the lot of us still are flooding the earth toward the Bible’s prophesied “end times,” which we are bringing upon ourselves in a physical as much as a spiritual way. 

Back to Buddhism—as noted by author Seth Zuiho Segall in 2010, it asks us to “investigate the circumstances of our lives. To live with difficult questions and address them as best we can in the moment, to see how far we can go to refrain from killing . . .” A timely thought, perhaps, for this Memorial Day.

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