Friday, January 04, 2013

Speaker for the Dead

I was out with some coworkers and one of them was talking about the hassle of clearing snow on their acreage. Someone said they should move into the city. Oh no, they liked living in the country too much. They loved having the deer come and visit their yard. How nice, I thought.

But they also had a coyote come and visit their yard. Even nicer, I thought, coyotes are cool.

But they were worried it might hurt their dog, so they shot it. So much for nice, I thought.

Everyone agreed that this was regrettable, but necessary. Except me. I said I'd choose the coyote. They all misunderstood, assuming I was agreeing with them. No, I said, you don't understand, I would choose the coyote over the dog.

They looked at me like I had two heads. One of them said (albeit joking) "And I thought you were a nice guy". I felt I should look at them like they had two heads. I wasn't nice because I didn't agree with killing a wild animal? To me that's bizarre logic.

I tried to explain that I thought the coyote had as much if not more right to be there than we did. But all I got was blank looks.

These are nice people. I like them. I think I get along pretty well with them. This doesn't change that. I don't hold their attitudes against them. Their parents likely had, and taught them, the same attitudes. Their friends likely have the same attitudes. Heck, our whole culture has the same attitudes. It's clearly me that is the oddball wacko.

I love people, and dogs, and cats, and all animals and plants. But I love nature more than I love people. If you had to choose between a tenant that trashed the place, and one that left no trace, which would you choose?

Humans have demonstrated over and over that we have little concern for anything other than ourselves. We've shown that we will continue to party until the whole place is wrecked. We are the hoodlums and therefore we don't deserve to be here. The coyote isn't trashing the planet, to me it obviously and arguably has more right to be here than us, let alone our pets.

It's bad enough that we feel it's ok to trash the planet for our sake. But it's even worse to feel it's ok to trash the planet for our pets. (We might not explicitly say that we think it's ok, but actions speak louder than words.)

Shooting a coyote is hardly trashing the planet. But the attitude it demonstrates is the same attitude that is driving our destructive ways. People always come first. Closely followed by our toys and pets. The government will pay you to shoot a coyote, but if I shoot your SUV (clearly more harmful than the coyote) then I'll likely go to jail. Pretty obvious what our value system is.

I have no illusions that this post will change anyone's attitude. If you disagree, no doubt you still disagree (if you made it this far). And if you agree, then you didn't need to read this. But sometimes it's just hard to stay silent. I'm not angry, I'm just sad.

* The title comes from an Orson Scott Card book of the same name

1 comment:

  1. A great post, not for what happened, but for the writing and the opinions. Here in Vancouver, I would say there's a large number of people who would agree with your friends, but at least the official public discourse is that we should co-exist with coyotes, not kill them. And that's after one or two attacks on children.

    Curiously, I understand that coyotes aren't natural to the mountains and coast of BC. Before cities and big towns sprang up, the wolves, cougars and bears out-competed them. It's only with human settlement driving away the other wildlife, that the coyotes have been able to thrive.