Tonight I saw this Disney documentary about our planet.
It is a moving and beautifully shot film. There are stunning photographs of ice, and of waterfalls, and of mammals, and of birds – even ducklings falling out of a tree! The photographs of elephants dancing in the water, or of the baboons delicately picking their way through the marshes are stunning. But the poignancy for me was the reminder that all life comes at a cost. One life’s survival is derived from another’s death.
The wolf lives because the baby moose dies; the lions get to live because they overcome an elephant; the great white shark’s amazing aerobatics come at the expense of a seal. And most of all… the quality of human life comes at the cost of the life of our planet.
I use electricity and bury its nuclear waste on the West Coast for my children’s children to deal with; I love my petrol driven vehicles, and try not to think of how the wasteful byproducts are dealt with; I use plastic wrapping/bottles/containers and wonder if it all goes away. And the planet is getting warmer, and less able to absorb this abuse. It struck me that if each person took responsibility for changing just one planet-damaging activity, then all of us together could make a difference. So I am determined to find my personal contribution, and will let you know.
I also reflected moodily that my life is nourished by death – the death of other beings on this planet: I ask a fish to die so that I can live; or demand the chicken/cow/sheep/pig surrender life for my braai, or my burger. And this feels uncomfortable. I would never directly take the life of any of these beings, because it would feel wrong. I even squirmed when I saw the cheetah take down a buck, because I do not enjoy seeing a “kill.” But I readily admit that thus far in my life I have relied on professional killers to do it for me, and have tried not to think about it when I eat. So it is time to change. I am resolved to learn how to diminish my need to take a life in order to stay alive. I do not know where this will lead me, but I want to try.