For the past week we have seen anything but politics as usual. In what can only be described as extraordinary, we have witnessed a man of simplicity and caring; speak to a Congress, a President and a Nation. The message the Pope shared was one of love, understanding, compassion and giving. He looked the Republican Congress in the eyes and made clear that climate change was real and that taking care of the earth we inherited was not just a saying, but rather a duty.
In recent weeks the Pope has spoken about the importance of animals and the fact that they too will find heaven. All of this at a time when the airwaves and our souls have been saturated with the Donald Trump and Republican parties’ impassioned plea to ignore climate change; to build more walls, spend more on defense, while cutting taxes and eliminating things like the Environmental Protection Agency. Animals, wildlife, that does not even warrant a comment, if they are willing to destroy the planet and people; animals are not even an afterthought.
Then suddenly our teary-eyed Majority leader John Boehner announced after his meeting with the Pope that he was quitting at the end of October. Not that he has ever done anything for the environment, enjoying a lifetime 2% score from the League of Conservation Voters. Yet, he has swallowed some Democrat’s efforts to create new wilderness and to support some levels of clean energy. Now we are about to experience Republicans 2.0. The new, more radical team is poised to take a hammer to anything that is common sense: deals with energy independence, wilderness, or the logic that comes from acts of kindness to your fellow man.
It is ironic that with the Pope spreading talk and actions of love and compassion that we witness a group of people that cannot be penetrated with compassion. They appear to be on a mission, one that involves filling their egos and coffers with the right mix of arrogance, power and muscle. This mix is what gave us the war in Iraq and has leveled many great forests. It has found oil in the ocean and spilled it to levels that destroyed the magic that was the life of dolphins, whales, turtles and so many other vital species. It is with such reasoning, that we find those that kill big game to fill their trophy rooms, or send photos across the internet of themselves and the animal that they just slaughtered. Love and compassion, it seems, is not universal.
The Pope and the Republican Party, the contrast is stark. It has been on display all week. Yet as a nation the division remains. Climate change and the Pope are not what the Republican mind wants to adhere to. They want only to hear of restrictions on our personal lives as a means of accepting that the earth should be subjected to equal pain, suffering and natural control. This Pope is asking us to reexamine such thinking, as many before him in conservation have asked the world to reexamine our old, tired relationship with this planet.
Love, compassion and a willingness to respect all life forms is not new. What is, are the people that are asking for us to hear the message. The Pope was vocal and profound in his push for the planet. Republicans still have a serious learning curve before them on such issues. Protecting nature is in their DNA, but it has been lost to the power and greed inherent in all politics and their efforts to control.
It has been quite a week in our nation, wildness was on full display, perhaps not in the way we generally think of it. One thing is clear; the war we face is not in the Middle-East, but rather one that involves a future that is filled with compassion and understanding, or one woven with control and personal manipulation. Unlike many other elections, this one seems to be heading towards a resolution of epic proportions. One you might say could define life on this planet. If this week offers any insight, one party still has a lot of understanding to reconcile.
In the end, what is most clear is that it is the human that remains truly the Wild Thing in this equation.
Bold Visions Conservation