Weaving a Shroud

I write this reflection after reading the headlines on my phone this morning, since we are not doing telly this month and maybe long after.

One of the feeds announced that scientists have determined that we are well into the Sixth Mass Extinction. This news weaves together many other news stories, a personal story and two well-known personalities that are linked to me in this heart rending announcement.

The stories:
Trump pulling out of the Climate Agreement and its ripples through policy and the latest G20 meeting.
The media fought battle by the parents of Charlie Gard.
The push to find ways to ark us off Earth to another planet when we have destroyed life on this one so it is not worth being here any longer.
The intervention of the Pope and Trump into this nasty battle for one small life that is beyond repair.
The end of life for a dear friend’s feline companion.
The news of the 6th Mass extinction.

The Personalities:
Trump
The Pope
The collective Rest of Us
Myself

How does this warp and weft combine in my mind and perception to weave a shroud? That seems obvious to me, but I will share how I see the weaving in any case, if for no other reason than to off load and let go of the news that sends me into despair and sadness.

The pulling out of the Climate Change agreement sends a signal that the environment doesn’t matter much to the policy and policy makers of the, for now, world’s largest economy. The roll back on environmental protections and the silencing of the EPA. The insistence on bringing back coal and fracking and oil all point to a determination to hasten the ongoing and accelerated degradation of our planet.

The battle by the anguished parents of one small boy, who are in denial that their child is irreparably damaged and has no chance of a life with any quality, to try any means to extend their and his facing what will surely be his death. They have skilfully manipulated emotions and the media and the public. They have rallied those who believe that only human life, is worth such extreme efforts to save. In my opinion, they have used their son in a way that is shameful and exposed themselves to more heartbreak, in part because now they will not be able to grieve when the time comes in private. They have become wounded celebrities and the public seems to want more and more. The consumer public is greedy for vicarious experiences whether of joy or sorrow to fill the void of real experiences in lives lived in front to televisions and gaming consoles and social media, which is really, and I mean a very real way antisocial in regards to proper human to human interaction.

The recent stories of people investing massive amounts of money into finding ways to build rockets and so forth to lift us off of Earth before life here becomes untenable. What they forget is that they want to build arks to take the same humans, with the same greed and the same propensity for waste and destruction, not only of each other but any other beings, to another place/planet/satellite/Moon where the same forces will still be present. So far none of the religions of the book have managed to purge human beings of their what seems to be innate desire to control, overlord, destroy and/or lay waste to the environment around them let alone each other.

Both Trump and the Pope have weighed in to offer help to the parents of Charlie Gard. Trump in his usual flippant way, fake empathy lite, and the Pope who it seems will do anything to try and save the life of one sick child. The problem is that as stated above, Trumps policies are helping to doom all the other children to slow death on a planet that will within a century or so will be nearly uninhabitable. The Pope, as long as he and his male dominated and dominating institution, refuse to see the problems caused by too many people fighting for what are infinite and scare resources and promote policies that actively encourage reduction of human populations show, in my view, an unbelievable level of hypocrisy. For the Pope to go on any context about Climate Change, without looking at a policy in his own institution that adds to the current crisis has, for me, no moral authority.

You may wonder where the death of my friend’s cat comes into all of this, and rightly so. It placed me in a position to grieve the loss of a non-human creature. It allowed me to feel the pain of those Wise Ones, The Patterners who shape the framework of creation, in my personal understanding, when another and another of our fellow beings fall to the poachers, the chainsaw, the accumulation of plastics. I believe that there are those, and I don’t mean here the impersonal gods of the three book religions and any other religion where text supersedes real engagement with Creation and those Created, who mourn these losses. If we listen we can hear their sobbing in the background. But we are the ones who have caused much of this.

My hurting with my friend at her loss, mirrors my hurting with the Wise Ones and The Patterners who feel such losses moment by moment. Another elephant or rhino taken spuriously for their ivory or horn. A tiger taken for its pelt and whatever so called medicine is derived from its body parts. An amphibian poisoned by water too toxic to live in. A whale bloated by plastics it thought were food or a seal or dolphin caught in a web of discarded fishing paraphernalia. The lemurs and orangutans whose homes are clear cut for palm oil (so ubiquitous it is almost impossible to personally and quietly boycott its use). The bees who pollinate our now quite compromised crops grown on increasingly poisoned land, who can no longer find their way to and from their hives because of pest control necessitated by the use of pesticides and monoculture agriculture and the greed of petrochemicalagribusiness. The innocent humans caught in the cross fire of wars between religious factions one of whom wants to be the only right way to worship a god who tells them that what really matters is not the life you live here but the one you will earn as a reward for following blindly its rules here whilst the world heats up an burns around them.

And finally, the news that the Sixth Mass Extinction is well underway. I find this news, which the announcement only made ‘official’ the hardest of all. It was one thing when it sort of felt that way, but now it’s been said. Not that it is likely, but we are living it. We are in large part responsible for it. That there may well be very little we can do at this point to stop it. We are the ones who have done this. We who insist on wanting more and more, because we are taught that wanting more and more is what keeps our various economies alive and growing. We who keep on saying that it’s someone else’s problem. We who keep on having more children, not only that often we personally can support but that the planet surely cannot. We who think we have more of a right to be here that small frogs in the Amazon, Snow Leopards in the Himalayas, Elephants in Kenya, Hen Harriers in Scotland. We who put our personal comfort ahead of thoughts for the future. We who elect, or allow our elected officials to appoint, individuals who deny Climate Change, who want to bend over backwards to help their wealthy supporters maintain a life of monetary prosperity at the cost of the rest of us. We who do not act to find a way to live equitably with the land and our fellow citizens, human and non-human.

We are, and that means that I am as well. And right now I don’t know what to do to make a difference. I no longer eat animal products. We drive a hybrid car. We use green energy to heat our home. We meter our water to keep a check on our consumption. We are growing our some of our own vegetables and sharing them with the bugs, if it is safe for them then I feel it’s safe for me. We feed the birds in our garden and our cats who might possibly consider going after our garden visitors go out under harness to sit with us and soak up the sun, the one who is not bothered, and too lazy and slow to hunt, and our visitors know this can go out on his own. We buy most of our clothes from charity shops and support a few groups that work to maintain the woods, make wetland habitats, look after birds and other wild places. We are looking for ways to deal with our pensions in ways that are ethical by our standards, though not necessarily by the standards of so called ethical investment funds, this is a mine field through which one must carefully tread.

But it is not enough. Clearly, it is not enough that individuals take such steps, and we are not the only ones. But it is not us who make the policies. We vote. I sign petitions. I write letters. I express my gratitude for and to the gods, the ancestors and the spirits of the land. I allow myself to grieve. I make myself carry on. I write the pain out of me and share it, hoping others will come to share it as well and maybe in our shared pain something will arise from it whilst there is still some time left.

We made a large part of this problem. We therefore have a large, the largest part, in doing something about it not only for our physical and spiritual descendants, but for ourselves now and in the lives we may yet lead in another manifestation on this planet, the only one we have to call home.

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The sound of traffic
unremitting roar upon the A roads,
incessant rumble over the M roads,
hurtling at speed
east going west returning,
north outgoing south incoming,
long weekends far from the city
taking the noise and crowdedness
trying to convince themselves
travel truly is a respite
a retreat an escape,
from the daily grind of the commute
dawn and dusk
daylight and darkness
into and out of the self-same
urban nightmare
homing to the suburban dream.

The unremitting roar
reminiscent of the sea surrounding,
rumble like incessant rolling thunder,
assaulting the senses,
engines never ceasing
bellowing with more speed
howling for more fuel
have replaced the dinosaurs’
reverberating boom no longer heard,
though for decades now renewed
resounding once again in engines
gulping down the liquid remains
of what once nourished reptilian monsters
to satisfy their insatiable hunger,
which in truth is ours alone
to go farther
get there faster
arrive in greater comfort.

Guzzling the interred remains
of the land titans’ food,
those once great
crushers of primeval forests
and each other under foot,
to sate modernity’s thirst
striping out the forests
making room for yet more
roads to accommodate
the multi-wheeled carriers,
once they the servants
now we the slaves,
roaring unremittingly as the restless sea,
rumbling incessantly as ongoing thunder
constant motion
never silent
always sound and movement,
upon the A roads,
over the M roads,
crisscrossing the land
gobbling up the landscape.
awaiting their inevitable extinction.

I am the last one

Am I the last one? Have the others been lost now?

I have traversed the flyway for several years now, making my way back to the grounds of continuation and have found no others like me.

Am I the last one? Are the others all gone?

It has been my fear. Now it is my reality.

I lost one mate to the report of a rife, another to the hurling of a stone. I escaped, but I was then alone. The last mate I lost to starvation, for the sources of our food were no more. I lost my last brood to poisoned bait set for others, vermin they call them. Fellow creatures trying to make their way in a world where are no longer valued I say.

This is the last year I shall fly. I am weary and alone. Lonely. This is the last year I shall chase the dream of finding another with whom to mate or challenge. This is the last year that any shall hear my plaintive call, the last year that my song will sound through the wooded edges, the meadowed margins.

This is the last year that I shall live.

It is the last year that my kind shall be.

Extinction they call it. Extinguishment of the light of our species soul, is what is really is. There will never be another of me. For all of time, for all of forever, in all of eternity there will not be one like me again. We were not a fancy bird. We were not flashy. We were not formidable. We were just an ordinary brown bird, not too big, but big enough that there are those who thought it sport to shot us and little though it was, some food for their hungry families in a world too crowded with your kind and where famine swept through trying to redress the imbalance.

How can I describe what it is like to sing, sing to the wind and leaves and the sky? How can I explain to you what it feels like to call, in desperation and aching loneliness for another of your own kind, and there to be no answer? How can I try to tell you, who are responsible for this that you could have prevented my fate – that you could have acted sooner, behaved differently, lived in a way that made it safe for your children and mine? How can I speak to you who do not and cannot ever be the last of your species ever to be alive, ever to see the sun rise, watch the sun set, feel the wind and rain over your body? Rain weeping with you at the immanent prospect of your annihilation and demise.

It has been attempted by some of your own kind against others of your own kind, it may have happened to some of your distant ancestors from millennia ago, for you have done ethnic cleansing, targeting particular populations. And, if as a species you are able to do that, what chance did my kind ever have when we became scarce, rare, endangered?

I will not any longer try to make you feel guilty. For now, that will not save me, though on reflection it might save another, something bigger like snow leopards, tigers, rhinos, elephants – but they are big and take up more space they we ever did. I am a small being. I hold little hope.

I am unlucky to be just a plain brown bird, nondescript. I am unlucky to have a niche environment. I am unlucky to be a migrator to and from places that have become both perilous and toxic.

I will now sing one more song, a long song of lamentation and despair. I will sing one more solo where there should have been a chorus. I will sing once more for a mate because I must, though I know that there are none to respond. I will sing one last time in defiance of another to try and challenge my territory, though I know there are none to answer my challenge.

I sing now and will let my heart burst in the effort. May you farewell, fare better than . . .