Friday :: Apr 29, 2005

On Hope...

by CA Pol Junkie

I came back from Washington D.C. feeling pretty lousy about our country. Then I heard an amazing, inspiring, and hopeful story Mary mentioned below. Against all odds and expectations, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker was found surviving in an Arkansas swamp. The plight of endangered species is something that has been a source of inspiration for me, both for dignity of the species themselves and for those working to help bring them back. California Condors are being carefully raised by humans, and released to be wild again in the mountains of California and Arizona; young Whooping Cranes are being led by ultralights so they can learn to migrate from Wisconsin to Florida. Endangered species show the worst of the human condition - the callousness, myopia, and greed - and the best in us to make up for the wrongs of those who came before us.

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is highly emblematic of the destructive side of humanity. Greed brought down almost all of the old growth forests where it lived. Egg collectors magnified this obscenity by trying to collect an egg for their collections before there would be no more. Then willful myopia brought the Ivory-bill to the brink of extinction, as the last tract of forest where they were known to exist was felled 60 years ago.

Since then, the Ivory-bill has been mythical. There were scattered reports but no photographs for decades, in much the same way extra-terrestrials only land in isolated farms and not suburban soccer fields. When it was finally caught on grainy video surviving in the 21st century, it was living proof that we can overcome the dark side of human nature. To its credit, the Bush administration immediately pledged $10 million to protecting the remnant population in a desperate attempt to right a past wrong.

Even still, the current administration is still dominated by greed and myopia. We have tax cuts for the rich while cutting medical care for the poor; we are despoiling a pristine arctic wilderness just so we can waste the oil underneath it. It is the same dark corner of the human condition which brought the Ivory-billed Woodpecker to the brink of extinction. Yet, if a huge, spectacular woodpecker can survive a merciless assault on its existence and then elude thousands of birders with its best interests at heart for decades, perhaps there is hope for us to recover from the ghastly wrongs committed by the Bush administration to make America great again.

CA Pol Junkie :: 3:08 PM :: Comments (10) :: Digg It!