Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Welcome to the human race.

Lately I've been trying really hard not to read unsettling things. The state of the world is already crystal clear to me; I don't need daily reminders to sap the little joy I have left.

I tend to fall into a deep depression if I even accidentally happen to glance, oh so fleetingly, as something like the REVOLTINGLY GRAPHIC PeTA ""vegetarian starter kit" two of my coworkers picked up and were fingering through at the door of Vegetarian's Paradise 2.

We had just experienced the wonders of vegan hot & sour soup and many other delectable delights that restaurant features, when Mr. Kim - who had never been to a vegan eatery and was excited to try it - snatched up a copy of PeTA's horrifying scare-tactic propaganda.

Leafing through its many explicit photos of future hot dogs, chickens crammed into filthy cages, cows sliced open, the miracle process that creates ham, and many other atrocities that are too revolting to remember or recount here, I felt the overwhelming need to vomit.

Now, I know that's exactly what the minions at PeTA want - they, like the dipshit anti-abortion "Christian" freaks who waddle around in tacky Wal-Mart polyester holding up enormous photos of "dissected babies," want you to be so horrified by what you see that you are scared into changing your behavior. Well, fuck that.

I don't need Friday the 13th-style garbage like that to make me realize how fucked up the world is. What's scarier than anything PeTA could ever whip up - and believe me, they are probably hard at work right now creating some graphic, obnoxious video or leaflet replete with blood, gore and tortured animals - is your basic, everyday news article about the effects of global warming and our ever-growing human population on the millions of plant and animal species attempting to share this planet with us.

For example, this ongoing blog from the New York Times: Dot Earth. Looking at this blog on a daily basis is like reading one of the preemptive obituaries news sources always have ready for celebrities, only this one's much sadder. I WANT to read Britney Spears' obituary; I do NOT want to read the Yangtze River Dolphin's. You see the distinction?

An excerpt:

How much nature is enough? We may be finding out, species by species, as we whittle away in that slow-drip style. This is just a quick note of farewell to the Caribbean monk seal, not seen since 1952 and given its formal designation as extinct by federal fisheries officials last Friday.
It goes on and on. This guy covers everything you would never want to imagine humanity as a collective being capable of, and yet here it is - real, happening, and for the most part, largely ignored.

Many years ago I was dating someone who freaked out when he saw a spider walking across the floor of my apartment. "Don't kill it," I told him as I stood up to get something to put it in so I could transport it away from his flitty, idiotic fear at something so small and harmless.

"Like this, you mean?" he laughed as he smashed it with his foot.

As I steamed and yelled at him, he exclaimed, "I'm entitled to my own opinion."

But he's not. Not in a situation like that. What that spider had to go through just to get to that stage of its life only to be destroyed in a split second by some stupid, unthinking asshole makes me livid to this day.

I can't stand humanity's smug sense of entitlement when it comes to other animals' existences. And so I try not to remind myself.

Sometimes though, like today, when I'm feeling particularly masochistic, I actually read through the Dot Earth blog or other stories. It's like taking a knife and cramming it directly into my heart. The overwhelming sense of hopelessness I feel when the havoc the human race is wreaking on our planet comes to the fore of my consciousness makes me almost want not to carry on. What's the point? I don't really want to be around as these animals, plants and untainted patches of earth disappear. I don't want to be held responsible for it or feel the despair that will grow as each new species is declared endangered and ultimately extinct.

After reading about the Caribbean Monk Seal's new place of honor among the animal species wiped out by human idiocy and about deforestation's effect on sea turtle populations, I read the comments readers placed below. This one echoes my sentiments almost exactly:
To be alive today and conscious, sensitive and caring about other species is torture. It is pure, unadulterated torture. I’ve always been extremely senstive to my environment, the other organisms on Earth besides people. And even with my own species, I look around and wonder all the time how I could have been born in this day and age, witness to the absolute decimation of such a once beautiful place. And it’s exponential. Even reading the testimonials of the climate scientists who warn if we stopped completely right now, stopped spewing our noxious, toxic gases into the atmosphere and into the ground, the Earth would still warm considerably before it stabilized and began to reverse. For any of us alive today with open hearts, Ouch! Ouch, Ouch, Ouch!

I find thanks to the many contributers here, your articles Andy and my own conscience, I seem to equivocate with everything I do now. I stand staring at the mayonnaise or mustard, wondering if should forfeit them entirely or be forced to buy them in plastic containers. My organic shampoo, my eco friendly cleaners (even Simple Green is in a plastic container), my paper towels, sodas, flax seed oil, they’re all in plastic bags or plastic containers. It is maddening to be alive today and care. Even when I mow my pasture I’m a lunatic, stopping every few feet to poke around so I don’t whack a gopher snake which I’ve done unintentionally many times. There are frogs hopping away, Wooly Bear caterpillars curled up as I approach. It takes me hours to mow. Yes, it might sound as though I’ve lost my mind completely. It’s my heart I can’t lose. To tread this lovely Earth and realize almost everything I do has an adverse consequence to some other innocent species……even my damn English class. wants five copies of our work to pass around. I think, “five copies? Hello? How many trees am I destroying so someone can read my thoughts?”

National Geographic has an incredible and sobering article this month on the sensitive, brilliant, emotion based minds of animals. Yes, all animals; elephants, parrots, monkeys, dolphins, dogs, cows. We are just obnoxious idiots to think we are the only one’s capable of feeling and understanding.

All I can do anymore is walk around with my sorrowful mantra whispering, “I’m sorry” to everything I see.

I get up every morning, do the best I can, forgo that which I do not need (which is a lot more these days) and try damn hard to minimize my footprint with everything I touch. I want to be part of the solution but may in fact only come once I’m dead. I’m guessing to combine the words human and solution, well that in and of itself is probably the greatest oxymoron ever.

Elizabeth Tjader
I'm sorry too. I'm so sorry.


earfulofcool said...

What a great post, Ben. The example with the spider is perfect. Your friend DID not have entitlement to that opinion. No one is entitled to destroy the planet and the creatures on it. Humans suck.

Dustin said...

Yeah. A-men.