Sunday, 18 March 2012

Help and Hindrance

Last night I watched a thought provoking episode of Natural World.
Silky Sifakas (picture from National Geographic)
I love Nature, Wildlife and the Environment as I hope has become quite obvious by now!

However, it is rare I watch programmes about them mainly because we don't have a TV but also because I become very easily upset when I see the cycle of life take place before my eyes.

Once upon a time, I went to Zambia. I was lucky to go but it was also a difficult decision for many reasons. However, go I did, only for two weeks and it was maybe one of the most intense experiences of my whole life.

I met passionate environmentalists and conservationists and wondered why I hadn't chosen this path for myself because I was enthralled by the magic and beauty of the Zambian culture and of course the Wildlife.

I won't go into the story behind this trip or the fact that I constantly wish I had known what I wanted to do with my life alot earlier on as this post is not about me. However, I wanted to touch on this experience because during this trip to Zambia, I went out on to the National Parks and Game Reserves and witnessed the wonder of the Natural World for myself.

It was awe inspiring and took my breath away. I could barely believe that I was there. I felt like I was in another world, I felt overwhelmed but also as if I belonged.

So, I came home and as the memories faded I started to acknowledge that my experience would have been very different had I witnessed the cycle of life right in front of  my very eyes!

The strange thing is, that when I was there, I didn't even consider that I might see a kill or an injured animal. The magnificance of the landscape completely overtook my senses and I could only see the wonder and beauty. Thank goodnesss!

If someone offered me the chance to go on safari now, I would turn down the opportunity because I am very acutely aware that I was incredibly lucky not to witness any bloodshed. I was completely naive to the fact that it was out there and could have revealed itself to me at any time. But it didn't and I believe it wasn't meant to. I was only there to witness the glory of the Natural World, not the goryness of it. Someone, my Earth Mother Spirit, was watching out for me.

So I have extraordinary memories which I will cherish and have no desire to repeat the experience.

However, I do watch the Wildlife programmes when I can, until the camera shows us nature in all it's brutality, at which point I turn off.

So Last night I watched Madagascar, Lemurs & Spies which told us about the complicated life of the Silky Sifakas and the fight to preserve this endangered species of Lemur.

There were no difficult to watch scenes as far as the animals were concerned.

It was difficult to watch however because it was essentially the story about how humankind is ravaging our planet.

This story concentrates on the  pillaging  of Rosewood and Ebony trees in the protected rainforst national parks in Madagascar. Many of these trees are centurys old. The illegal logging is destroying diversity, Flora and Flauna unique to Madagascar. This is the food of the Silky Sifakas which is why these lovely creatures could never survive in captivity because their diet is so Unique.

Madagascar has great biodiversity. Three quarters of the 200,000 species found there, do not exsist anywhere else, however, with the illegal logging, a large number of the large species are now extinct and more that  80% of the original forest cover has disappeared.
Madagascan Rainforest, Picture from National Geographic
In 2009, loggers took an estimated 100,000 rosewood and ebony trees out of the forests after a coup which saw an already  poor country plunged into a political and economic crisis.

These trees are so heavy that it takes many men to pull them down to the river and then another 5 -6 trees have to be cut down to float one of these trees down the various rivers to the production sites. This has led to extensive deforestation and the loggers set up camp deep in these forests which means they kill and eat the forest animals including the various Lemur Species.
Logged Rosewood, picture from National Geographic

The programme told us about the efforts of two men, a passionate scientist who has dedicated much of his life to protecting and studying the Silky Sifakas, and an Undercover Detective from Washington, to expose the illegal logging trade to ensure the long term survival of these beautiful primates.

As I watched this programme, my attention was focused on this struggle between destruction and survival and I was so aware that this was about a group of individuals with a conscience  trying to do the right thing, resisting a group of individuals with no conscience, doing absolutely the wrong thing.

And I found  myself appreciating that our societiey is made up of those that fight for justice, freedom and awaress, and those who are or choose to be ignorant and continue to destroy, devastate and wreck. I became aware of the eternal struggle between good and evil.

These two men and their teams faced great personal danger to expose this illegal trade and bring it to the world's attention but they did not let that distract them from their ultimate  mission to save the precious rainforests and wildlife of Madagascar.

I have spoken many times about my admiration for inspiring individuals such as these passionate activists. People who truly stand up for what they believe in and put their beliefs into action.
I watch their stories and am in awe of their dedication, steadfastness and resolve to bring about change. I have nothing but respect and love for their determination and passion.
Dr Erik Patel,  Picture from BBc website
But as I watched this programme,  I felt sadness that there is a need for individuals to continually fight against the wrongs done by other individuals and I wondered why there is such disparity between our values.

If I didn't have to work, I would use the time to learn and what I would like to study is Social Sciences. How does society shape people?  Where do our Values and Beliefs come from? How are differences and inequalities produced? How is society shaped not just by humans but by material objects and the environment? How are we connected and disconnected from each other and how do we see each other and others?

There is a Social Psychologist called Johathan Haidt who studies how and why we evolved to be moral. He believes that by understanding our moral roots, we can learn to be civil and open minded. He says that we are not purely selfish and that most people long to overcome pettiness and become something wonderful. 

Two of his quotes which I think fit perfectly for this post is:
"The most powerful force ever known on this planet is human co-operation - A force for construction and destruction"

"If our goal is to understand the world, to seek a deeper understaning, our general lack of moral diversity here is to make it harder. Because when people all share values, when people all share morals, they become a team"

One of the reasons I found Jonathan Haidt is because I was looking at his TED talk on Religion, Evolution and self - transcendence because I am interested in Transcendence - that we can expand to identify with all humanity and other aspects of the world beyond the body. In doing so, we transcend conditions of seperateness and isolation, which are the source of much misery and angst. By recognising the inherent unity of all exsistence, we experience subsequent feelings of belonging, oneness and peace.

I wish that these loggers could relate to this transcendent sense of self because maybe then they would care for the protection of free nature as the protection of themselves.

We are all structures, as are all beings on this planet, who are sustained by an influx of matter and energy that starts at the sun and is channelled throuogh plants, up food chains to us. Therefore, any seperation in time or space between us and the natural world is a projection of the mind.

So this post is about How humanity can help our relationship with the Natural World or completely hinder it. How a group of like minded individuals with the right beliefs can make a difference when opposing a group of like minded individuals with the wrong beliefs but how it is a constant battle.

Although I have a transcendent sense of self with Mother Earth, I have a long way to go before I can expand my sense of self to identify with those ignorant individuals that plunder,destroy, kill, hurt and ravage our Natural World.

What I do understand is the power of money. If you are poor and need to feed yourself and family, if you are fighting for survival then the lure of $1 a day to cut down trees in a protected rainforest, even if you know it is illegal, must override any part of your conscience telling you it is morally wrong.

What I do understand is that if you fear for your life because you have become entangled in a situation which feels dangerous to leave, then you  may stay in that situation rather than be brave and speak out against it.

What I do understand is that we in the western world are aware of the environmental damage we are wreaking on our planet. We have been blessed with an education and given the opportunity to observe individuals with good morals and values who are  raising awareness of our impact on the environment.  Many of us choose to listen and make changes to our lives to effect better outcomes for the earth. Some of us however, choose to remain ignorant and lazy.

What I do understand is that, For those loggers who are living in one of the world's poorest countries where 70% of the population suffer from malnutrition and where there is little education system, poverty, fear and ignorance is the driving force behind their actions. So I can begin to transcend the feelings of separateness I have from them so I can challenge my anger and frustration at their actions.

I cannot however, understand why the educated, intelligent business men at the top of the chain continue to authorise action which they know is morally wrong and illegal. THey are choosing to be ignorant.  They have the information, They know what they are doing is wrong in every way for every reason, but they are greedy and power hungry, selfish and egotistic.

It is these individuals who are the force of evil that the forces of good continue to fight.

This story does end on a happy and hopeful note.

The efforts of our Scientist and Detective resulted in the biggest importers of the Precious wood, Gibson Guitars, being raided and thousands of pounds worth of wood seized.

This had an immediate impact on the illegal logging trade in Madagascar. The illegal logging has greatly reduced and for now, the Silky Sifakas are safe again.

This was truly a story of how Hope, Belief, Determination, Dedication, Passion and Hard &Dangerous work, led to a Positive and Favourable Conclusion.

It is a story of Good overcoming Bad!

It gave me hope!

May we all continue to have hope and stand up for what we know is wrong.

Earth Blessings to you

I leave you with some pictures of my trip to Zambia nearly 7years ago!


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for becoming a Follower on my blog!

    Your photos of Zambia are stunning. I`m looking forward to reading some of your past posts.

    Best wishes, DW