Professor X: [voiceover] Either way, it is a historical fact: Sharing the world has never been humanity’s defining attribute. (X-Men 2)
As I get older (officially middle-aged, though it feels a lot older), I am plagued with this odd sort of remembrance. I am remembering a lot of things about my girl self that got shoved aside in hopes of becoming somebody loved, worthwhile, hire-able, successful, popular, pretty, rich–all of which, of course, never happened (yet, anyway). So I put away a lot of stuff that made me, me, because society taught me to be ashamed of who I was (and I believed them). Though it was always still sorta there, and it would escape from time to time, as I got involved in environmental causes and animal rights causes and human rights causes. I even majored in environmental science, once upon a time, even though I really wanted to be a marine biologist, but the school I ended up at didn’t offer it. But, math didn’t really come naturally to me, so I let that dissuade me from a career in science.
I was that girl who hated to see animals hurt, even in movies, where they (purportedly) said that the animals weren’t really hurt–it was all for show. I didn’t even like to kill bugs, and tried to fight against the use of pesticides even in my small world of the family home. Even though it was “Nature’s way”, I still had a hard time seeing animals hurt or eaten by other animals. I still feel guilty over the high school dissections I performed in the 80s. I try not to even kill bugs, and feel terrible if I accidentally kill bugs, or fall back into a certain callousness to insects just because I’m tired and it’s been a long day of struggling with too-vivid dreams and depression and anxiety and worry and stress and allergies and workplace hell and I just want to make dinner and go to bed.
The point is; I am realizing what’s really important to me, after all these years. I don’t want to live in a world without animals and trees and wildness in nature. It kills me that the price of having a comfortable life as a human is yet another species going extinct or getting on the endangered list. Animals losing their homes. Trees being murdered. Rampant, unchecked, local-politician-supported-against-all-protective-laws destroying my beloved swamps and ecosystems in my home state of Florida (for example). That the trafficking of endangered species is more widespread than I could even imagine. Just to end up on a dinner plate, for vanity (decoration) or to spend life in captivity as someone’s trophy pet.
So, maybe it’s partial selfishness as I enter into this transition #437–trying to figure out who I am and what kind of life I want to lead going forward. Sometimes it feels frustratingly slow, especially for someone as proactive as I am, coupled with seeing the clock run down for so many non-human lifeforms that we share (or not share) this planet with. It kills me that I’m just sitting here while non-human lifeforms are suffering and dying all around the world, because of us humans.
The takeaway? Who wants to live on a world stripped of trees and plants and birds and snakes and bugs and all the other wonderful diversity of life? Do we really want that on our conscience that we were part of an entire world destruction just because we want our Starbucks coffee and our designer clothes and diamonds and furs so that we know we are loved. What about loving other lifeforms, instead? What about appreciating and protecting the beauty that we already have? Who cares how beautiful we look in the mirror if we live in an ugly, desolate, plastic-bubble, sterile world?
So, take steps today. Make choices for the planet and not just for ourselves. Give up meat, even dairy. Buy organic and non-GMO foods. Start an urban garden. Adopt animals from a shelter instead of buying (inbred/puppy mill) breed animals. have your pets spayed/and neutered and keep cats indoor-only. Have yourself (the human equivalent) of spay/neuter–the world has plenty of adoptable children who need homes, too, right here on U.S. soil. Don’t wear fur or leather. Volunteer for animal rights causes. Stop using harmful pesticides and Round-up–learn about xeriscaping instead. Downsize your possessions. Reduce your carbon footprint. Don’t buy new–shop at thrift stores and purchase/remodel an older home rather than a brand-new (cheaply built) home/residence (do you really need six bedrooms and five bathrooms?).
I know I don’t want an entire planetary destruction on my conscience. So, my life going forward will be finding more ways to save the planet, outside of my usual armchair activist activities. Because I don’t want to be alone with just other humans for company. Even though I’m just one person, I want to change. And make change happen.