Animal Liberation is Human Liberation

Welcome to Peace to All Beings. Until we liberate animals from human exploitation and violence, we cannot expect to have true freedom and peace for ourselves. We human beings can awaken to our higher consciousness and embrace a new paradigm of living in harmony, rather than in fear and domination. We can become "Homo Ahimsa," my term for a new nonviolent and kind human, but we must make that choice together. There is hope for our species--hope that we will not continue this war against animals and the earth. Together let us co-create a new culture and heal the wounds humanity has caused to the earth, to each other, and to the animals who share this world with us.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Going Wild for Wildlife

This was my Planet Kansas column, “Eating As Though The Earth Matters," for the Kansas Sierra Club magazine, October-November, 2012, Issue. 

Going Wild for Wildlife

Years ago in the ‘70’s, when I volunteered for Save the Tallgrass Prairie, we made t-shirts for one of our conferences with the saying on it—“Wild Kansas—It’s Big Medicine.” The idea behind it, of course, was that we must keep the wild places wild and protect those who live there, because without them we would “die from a great loneliness of spirit” as Chief Seattle is often quoted. And also because it is simply and obviously our responsibility not to destroy them.

Wendell Berry, in his famous poem “The Peace of Wild Things,” longs to “lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water…” For many environmentalists, our love for the outdoors and the animals who live there was the main impetus that got us involved in the movement in the first place. And for those of us who were actually alive in the ‘70’s, we’ve accomplished a lot, but we have also mourned many losses and experienced firsthand that “loneliness of spirit” that comes from learning of another oil spill or another animal who has been killed or whose entire species has been lost.

Polar bears and whales

The fragile and pristine Chukchi Sea area in Alaska is under attack by Shell Alaska, now that the federal government has granted Shell a permit. In recent news they had to stop drilling for oil due to huge chunks of ice moving in their direction, but they intend to return and their actions, if they are not stopped by legal means, will cause unimaginable destruction to the land, air, and water there and suffering and death to the many threatened and endangered wild creatures whose habitat is being invaded—polar bears, walruses, bowhead whales, and many others. In addition to the drilling permit, Shell received a waiver for clean-air standards.


In Washington state, a rancher lost two animals, allegedly to wolves. The Department of Fish and Wildlife there now plans to kill four of the wolves in the Wedge pack ( also known as a family) causing devastating trauma to the rest of the pack. There are only eight packs in the state barely hanging on after they were exterminated decades ago. Wyoming, on the other hand, plans to kill wolves statewide as their protection as an endangered species has been lifted.
Turtles and sharks

The National Marine Fisheries Service is allowing California to continue fishing with mile-long gillnets. Endangered sea turtles, whales, and many other marine mammals and thousands of fish and sharks, considered trash by the fishermen, are killed by these nets, not to mention the millions who are sold and eaten.

Wild horses

Wild horses are being driven from their last remaining homes by terrifyingly noisy helicopters into holding facilities where their lives become completely disrupted. How tragic to think of that icon of wildness and unbridled freedom being captured and left without any semblance of the life that they love. The reason for this, of course, is once again to allow ranchers to maximize their range.

And let’s not forget prairie dogs and the many other innocent animals who are losing ground (literally) to make room for more livestock or tossed away as trash into the sea Not only are they being killed to get them out of the way, but also their water and ours, their air and ours, and their land and ours are being horribly contaminated by livestock raising and cruel, wasteful fishing practices, particularly when it is intensive factory farming (for both fish and land animals).

The earth matters to us, and the earth matters to all these animals. What can we do to save them and their habitats? Of course, there are many things we can do from letter writing to active protests, but there is one thing we can do that takes no extra time or money. Every day we eat. And how we eat directly affects the earth. Eating animals and their products , as you can see from the sampling above, causes wild animals to lose their habitats and their lives.

There are many programs aimed at getting ranchers to peacefully coexist with wildlife, but progress is too slow. We must do more. Reducing and eventually eliminating the buying of meat, milk, and eggs would end the arrogant practice of killing wildlife to protect animals who are also going to be killed. If you’re wondering why I included drilling for oil as relevant to what we eat, such activities are also deeply entrenched in livestock raising. A November/December Sierra club magazine article (p. 21) reported that if everyone in the U.S. eliminated meat and cheese just one day per week, that would be the equivalent of “taking 7.6 million cars off the road.” To expand that out to eliminating meat and cheese altogether, 7 days per week, that would be equivalent to reducing the need for fuel for 53.2 million cars.

If it sounds like a wild idea, well, I guess it is.

Let’s go wild for the wilderness and all those who live there too.
It’s “Big Medicine” for all of us.

Copyright, Judy Carman, 2012

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