As far as I know, I've never had a secret admirer--until I started this blog. For every one of my 30 followers there are dozens more who check in after every post. You live in Brazil, China, Canada, Russia, Australia, Germany, Spain, Ukraine, France, India, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK. I'm so curious about you all, and assume you care rather passionately about the welfare of animals. Are you adults--teachers, perhaps? Or are you who I wanted to reach when I launched this blog--kids, who, with a little exposure to the wonders of what's left of the natural world, may grow up to make a difference for the other species on this planet?
A lot of hideous things have happened this year, the two most despicable of which are the massacre of little children in Newtown, and the shooting of Malala Yousafzai by the Taliban. There are no words for the inexplicable. The grief I feel is cellular--forever part of who I am as a human being.
With the exception of innocent children, I've always cared about animals the way I should care about people. It's been a safer way to live. I learned this at my mother's knee. Not my birth mother, who gave me up for adoption, but the mother who raised me. She, too, loved animals more than people, and more than at least one of her children.
Most humans are kind, muddling through as best we can. But there lies innate cruelty in others. I've never had my heart broken by an animal, except by its dying. And not just pets. Earlier this week, there was this story about a Clemson University student, Nathan Weaver, who set out to determine how to help turtles cross the road. What he discovered reminded me of a bumper sticker I saw on a jacked-up, big-wheeled, mud-splattered truck.
As a species, we have ruled this planet for a few minutes in the overall scheme of things, but it does not belong to us. The stage may be ours momentarily, but bad actors always get the hook.
A kind, gentle friend died unexpectedly a couple of days ago, and I've been trying to think how to sum up a life well-lived. It occurred to me that all the other species on earth--perhaps even kudzu--deserve to be here. Many of us don't. If in the end, I can look back and believe that, for the most part, I earned the privilege, and have helped more than I've harmed, I'll be satisfied.
In spite of mounting proof to the contrary, there are still naysayers--more in America than in other countries--who are rabid deniers of climate change. I'm not one of them. I think we are possibly on the brink of planetary foreclosure, so to my secret admirers, I'm grateful that you care. Making a difference starts with us.
I wish you all a moment like the one in this video. If there is joy to be had after tragedy, it is the ability to appreciate such a blip in time. And, in the coming year, please do your best to protect the innocent--be it a turtle crossing the road, an uncut forest, or your own hope for better world.