Last week it was ruled that the wolf hunts will be proceeding in Idaho and Montana even though a federal judge agreed that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service likely violated theEndangered Species Actin delisting the wolves in those states.
Why? The tactical answer is that there was sufficient pressure from big business, including ranchers and sport hunters. The more accurate answer is that we still think we're the boss of things and that all life—flora, fauna, and furry—is only there for our recreational purposes or consumption.
With all the understanding and data we have presumably gathered over the years about the incredible complexity of life, the uncanny presence of black holes, quarks, and quasars, the insights of quantum mechanics and the elemental interconnectedness of all things—from plankton to global weather cycles—we still don't seem to have a grasp on our place in it. In fact, we don't seem to see that we're in it at all and, not unlike the railroad kings that blasted through pristine wilderness shooting every buffalo in sight, we still seem to believe that we stand outside the fray and can, with enough firepower and good ol' fashioned derring-do, put a lid on it.
What is it going to take for us to see the futility and the pathos in that position? Tsunamis don't seem to do it, because they mainly occur in Southeast Asia and the PacificIslands. Hurricanes don't hit home because they only obliterate the poorest sections of Louisiana and Florida.
A Personal Case in Point
A woman I know built a garden outside her front courtyard. She filled it with flowers and lush greens and small vegetables. Did I mention she lives in a desert? Did I mention she has a large courtyard with plenty of room for gardening? Did I mention there are tons of rabbits and prairie dogs and coyotes and mice and birds scrambling for their next meal? What do you think happens now that she has her garden outside the courtyard? They feel like they found nirvana. Like manna, a smorgasbord of food has dropped from the heavens and presented itself to them. So they partake. What does she do? She gets a B.B. gun and shoots them, all of them, anything that moves. She says she doesn't kill them (!?) but that she's teaching them a lesson and they'll stop coming around.
I looked at her like she had grown an arm out of her forehead. I said, "You what? They'll what?"
I was so stunned by the stupidity of it that I didn't even feel the need or the potential for any dialogue. She was beyond reason.
Believe it or not, there's a man who lives right near us who does the same thing—plants tomatoes and thick-leaved plants outside his courtyard wall, then shoots anything that comes near them. He too has a very large courtyard.
People aren't thinking straight. The master who taught me homeopathy maintains that this is just human nature and it is our job to observe it accurately, not judge it. I am sure he is right, but I find it very difficult to do. To me it seems that there's a short circuit in the human brain that needs rewiring. There's a fundamental wrong that needs righting. It's broke, done broke.
New Concepts of Dominion
Interestingly one of the brightest beacons of hope is coming from young Christians. There's a growing movement in Christianity that is still fairly right wing but is becoming environmentally and socially conscious in ways that are profoundly distinct from the generations of evangelicals before them. They are beginning to understand their place as children of God in a world, a universe that is all of God. They are beginning to wrap around their shoulders the true cloak of dominion and shared responsibility.
For those who still interpret "dominion" to mean conquest or domination, there is an interesting theological problem that they must confront. Why does God ask Adam and Eve to name all the creatures of the world? Any farmer knows that you never name the heifer you're going to have for dinner. Once you name it, it's yours. It becomes not your property, but your personal responsibility. You attach it to you and you to it. It is human nature. And as God created humans, he must have known that the process of naming his creatures precluded the perversity of abusing or forsaking them.
Dominion to this new generation of missionaries and church-goers is not domination or disrespect. It is not "ownership." We have been made protectors of God's creation and the responsibility is ours. The accountability is ours. Dominion is the charter of kings and queens to be benevolent, to maintain harmony, to protect, and to honor.