By Marc Bekoff
We’re killing a very tired and less resilient planet at alarming rates.
It’s common knowledge that we’re losing species and habitats at an unprecedented rate in a geological epoch known as the “anthropocene” — the age of humanity, which is hardly a humane time. We humans are the cause of massive and egregious ecocide because as big-brained, big-footed, overproducing, overconsuming, arrogant and selfish mammals we freely move all over the place recklessly, wantonly and mindlessly trumping the interests of countless nonhuman animals (animals). Every second of every day we decide who lives and who dies; we are that powerful. Of course, we also do many wonderful things for our magnificent planet and its fascinating inhabitants, but right now, rather than pat ourselves on the back for all the good things we do, we need to take action to right the many wrongs before it’s too late for other animals and ourselves.
My new book titled “Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence” lays out the details for a much-needed social movement and paradigm shift that also can help extricate us from our ecocidal ways and help to maintain our hopes and dreams for a more peaceful world for all beings in very trying times. We live in a world in which “unwilding” is the norm rather than the exception. It begins with early education. If we didn’t unwild we wouldn’t have to rewild.
Conservation biologists and others who write about rewilding or work on rewilding projects see it as a large-scale process involving projects of different sizes, such as the ambitious, courageous and forward-looking Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, well known as the Y2Y project.
The core words associated with large-scale rewilding projects are connection and connectivity, the establishment of links among geographical areas so that animals can roam as freely as possible with few if any disruptions to their movements. For this to happen ecosystems must be connected so that their integrity and wholeness are maintained or reestablished.
Regardless of scale, ranging from huge areas encompassing a wide variety of habitats that need to be reconnected or that need to be protected to personal interactions with animals and habitats, the need to rewild and reconnect centers on the fact that there has been extensive isolation and fragmentation “out there” in nature, between ourselves and (M)other nature and within ourselves. Many, perhaps most, humans, are isolated and fragmented internally concerning their relationships with nonhuman animals, so much that we’re alienated from them. We don’t connect with other animals, including other humans, because we can’t or don’t empathize with them. The same goes for our lack of connection with various landscapes. We don’t understand they’re alive, vibrant, dynamic, magical and magnificent. Alienation often results in different forms of domination and destruction, but domination is not what it means “to be human.” Power does not mean license to do whatever we want to do because we can.
Rewilding projects often involve building wildlife bridges and underpasses so that animals can freely move about. These corridors, as they’re called, can also be more personalized. I see rewilding our heart as a dynamic process that will not only foster the development of corridors of coexistence and compassion for wild animals but also facilitate the formation of corridors within our bodies that connect our heart and head. In turn, these connections, or reconnections, will result in positive feelings that will facilitate heartfelt actions to make the lives of animals better. To want to help others in need is natural so that glow is to be expected.
Rewilding is an attitude. It’s also a guide for action. As a social movement, it needs to be proactive, positive, persistent, patient, peaceful, practical, powerful and passionate — which I call the eight Ps of rewilding.
We can all make more humane and compassionate choices to expand our compassion footprint. We must all try as hard as we can to keep thinking positively and proactively. Never say never, ever. We can and must keep our hopes and dreams alive.
The time is right for an inspirational, revolutionary and personal social movement that can save us from doom and keep us positive while we pursue our hopes and dreams. Our planet is tired and dying and not as resilient as some claim it to be.
Ecocide is suicide. Let’s make personal rewilding all the rage. When “they” (other animals) lose, we all lose. We suffer the indignities to which we subject other animals. We can feel their pains and suffering if we allow ourselves to do so.
Compassion begets compassion and violence begets violence.
There really is hope if we change our ways. We owe it to ourselves and especially to future generations — our children and theirs — who will inherit the world we leave them long after we’re gone.
About Marc Bekoff:
Marc Bekoff is professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has worked alongside leading writers and activists including Jane Goodall, Peter Singer, and PETA cofounder Ingrid Newkirk. He lives in Boulder, CO.
Based on the book, “Rewilding Our Hearts” © Copyright 2014 by Marc Bekoff. Reprinted with permission from New World Library. www.NewWorldLibrary.com