Headlines today are full of accounts of killing. Too many people are spying through cross-hairs; that’s very scary to me. Looking into the eye of life – seeing living, sentient beings for what they are – is a sacred experience, I believe. Here is an amazing written account of that, by Aldo Leopold as told in “Killing the Wolf” from A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There:
We were eating lunch on a high rimrock, at the foot of which a turbulent river elbowed its way. We saw what we thought was a doe fording the torrent, her breast awash in white water. When she climbed the bank toward us and shook out her tail, we realized our error: it was a wolf. A half-dozen others, evidently grown pups, sprang from the willows and all joined in a welcoming melee of wagging tails and playful maulings. What was literally a pile of wolves writhed and tumbled in the center of an open flat at the foot of our rimrock.
In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy; how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable side-rocks.
We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.
May all beings be respected. May the green fire be rekindled in our time.
This gave me so much pain. I can’t imagine why people want to hunt except for survival. When the Native Americans killed for food they used every part of the animal, and in the killing they thanked the animal and ask pardon. The blatant disregard for life that we experience now is so hurtful.
Aldo Leopold completely changed his personal views on hunting and conservation after that experience and developed the Land Ethic that guides his legacy today. That’s why I think he’s such a great example: a person who, in the face of evidence and experience, changed his mind. Our society tends to be so polarized, and no one seems to be able to listen to reason and new information. That is a deep tragedy, I feel.
Yes it is. I want to share with you my belief that we need not be so polarized…I am conservative, but try to weigh each issue on its own merit. Sometimes I am afraid to express my opinion because I fear being lumped in under a label. Labels to me are so dangerous. I guess I just want to make a point that all conservatives, like all so-called liberals or whatever’s should not be lumped into one batch and judged as such. From my perspective, no issue is black and white…and no person is (or should be) too rigidly defined. This is not something I share often because sometimes I feel like a loner in the world in which I blog. What scares me most is extremism of any kind. And so, here I am, spilling my guts to you!
I totally agree! Steve & I were just talking about this on our afternoon walk. Sometimes what extremists do is jump from one polarity to the other. One thing I like about Buddhism is the teaching about the Middle Way – having a perspective that is aware of the extremes and acknowledges them but practices a graceful and humble way of moderation.
So very much wisdom in that Middle Way, isn’t there. Thanks for allowing me to express myself. :0)
You’re always invited to do that with me, Victoria. Your expression is a gift.
I know that about you…I sensed it.
I enjoyed your post very much and was compelled to reread Leopold’s passage again. A wonderful illustration of a turning point in one’s life. Your images are great– I would love to know more about where you saw that bat and how large he is. I’ve only seen them like that in Sydney.
That bat was an ambassador at a talk given at the University of Wisconsin Madison Arboretum. I believe he was a flying fox, a rehabilitated pet of the bat biologist who was speaking about Wisconsin bats and white nose fungus. Those megabats are native to Australia and Asia. His body was about 12 inches long.
I saw them hanging off the trees at the botanic garden in Sydney by the hundreds. It was pretty creepy.
Wow! That conjures quite an image!
I have photos somewhere… that was years ago and when we went back last year, they were gone.
Hm. I wonder what that was about, ecologically.
I thought that maybe they scared them away somehow since it kills the trees but turns out they relocated – to strip away other trees…
I know they are fruit-eaters; I wonder how they kill the trees?
Not sure if they kill the trees or they are just decimated of leaves and fruit so they move on….fascinating.
Oh, this made my heart hurt, but one that is perfect for our times. Powerful and thought-provoking, and beautifully expressed, as always.
It is a chilling passage and a pivotal moment – the moment when you realize that you have been in error and that you have the opportunity to change.
Love this collection of pictures, especially the last one of the cat! Perfect for this challenge!
Thanks! Yup, that sly-eyed cat is named Moon.
That book is a particular favorite of mine, especially that passage. I love you pictures!! Especially the bat! Wonderful post.
Thank you, Mary! I really enjoyed your Goddess story today, having just re-visited Joseph Campbell for a writing assignment on The Hero’s Journey. Thanks for your visit!