Loss of Habitat & Life On Earth — A Heavy Weight On Our Shoulders

What’s going on in the world’s environment?

Overall, I believe many things happening to the environment are our doing. When we do good things for life on the planet, good things happen. When we do bad things, there are consequences, consequences of our own doing.

Only we are to blame for taking more than we need (greed). We think since we were given charge over all living beings and the planet, we decide who/what lives or dies and how to treat the Earth (pride). We can destroy animals’ habitats as we like and not face the repercussions. 

We do this in a myriad of ways: wars, over farming, over fishing, poaching, mowing down of rain forests, polluting the air, water, and soil with toxic chemicals like Round Up’s glyphosate and other deadly poisons like neonicotinoids that have been causing massive deaths of honey bees.

Then there are oil spills and tossing plastics in our oceans, rivers, waterways as if these are our personal trashcans. And it ticks me off because one of my pet peeves is LITTERING. Why anyone would think a body of water is a dumping ground for his or her own trash is beyond me. It’s careless, lazy, and cruel.

On October 29, the World Wildlife Fund released their newest data on the loss of animals. Between 1970 and 2014, we’ve lost 60% of our wildlife. These include “mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians” (Davis and Walsh).

What is the cause of this tragic loss? Us. Not the Earth doing its thing. Us.

In the article from the WWF, it states, “The top threats to species identified in the report are directly linked to human activities, including habitat loss and degradation and overexploitation of wildlife.” 

Perhaps this isn’t news to you. You’ve known about what’s happening with animals all over the globe. And you are one of many people who are trying to do what you can to support the lives of God’s creatures. Kudos. We do try to do our part.

I knew of recent animals that had gone extinct, like the black rhino (heartbreaking) in 2011, and the announcement that bumblebees are now on the endangered species list.  But I had no idea 60% of wildlife had been wiped out in the last 40 years. Devastating. 

WWF’s executive director of science and conservation, Mike Barrett, said in a Guardian article, ““We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff. If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

That’s a pretty devastating message. 

Recently, I saw a beautiful ad that Iceland banned as being too political. Below is the video via you tube. It’s not too political. It’s TRUTH. 

The truth is shown in that little minute and a half ad. The truth that there are only 7500 orangutans left in this world, losing on average a thousand a year. This ad needs to be out there for people to see.

Check your food products. If they have PALM OIL listed, consider not purchasing it. The orangutans’ habitat is being destroyed for palm oil. These poor animals have lost their food and homes. It’s killing them off. So please read the ingredients on the foods you get to make sure you’re not supporting their extinction. 

Two more pieces of data from the Living Planet Report for 2018 that was echoed in the ad above: “Species population declines are especially pronounced in the tropics, with South and Central America suffering the most dramatic decline, an 89% loss compared to 1970” and “Freshwater species numbers have also declined dramatically, with the Freshwater Index showing an 83% decline since 1970.”

What have we done to help keep God’s creatures alive and well? The WWF said that the creation of the US Endangered Species put in place in 1973, has helped 99% of the listed endangered species to be saved from extinction.

What else can we do to help? Wildlife and biodiversity issues have to stay as one of our top concerns.

Little things my family does is we don’t use straws at home or at restaurants because of the plastic problem in our oceans and other waterways. We try and buy recyclable and biodegradable items. We don’t use harmful pesticides on our yard. We don’t litter anywhere.

My family donates to certain organizations, but we don’t specify which ones because in our Orthodox Christian faith, we aren’t supposed to announce what we give for the good of others, but do so privately. 

All of God’s creation matter on this Earth. He assigned us to take care of this planet, and we need to step up and do that. He’s counting on us. 

“Love all creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand within it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things.” – Starets Zosima from the novel, The Brothers Karamazov

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Works Cited

Carrington, Damian. “Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds.” The Guardian. 29 October 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/30/humanity-wiped-out-animals-since-1970-major-report-finds

Davis, Elizabeth and Katie Walsh. “WWF Report Reveals Staggering Extent of Human Impact on Planet.” World Wildlife Fund. 29 October 2018. https://www.worldwildlife.org/press-releases/wwf-report-reveals-staggering-extent-of-human-impact-on-planet

Tarlach, Gemma. ” Pesticides, Not Mites, Cause Honeybee Colony Collapse.” Discover Magazine. 9 May 2014. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2014/05/09/pesticides-not-mites-cause-honeybee-colony-collapse/#.W-87aS3Mx0s

The Core Element of Self-Sacrifice in Relationships

couple in sunset

The core element in relationships, especially in marriage, is the aspect of self-sacrifice.  In Eastern Orthodoxy, marriage is a type martyrdom, which is why crowns are placed on the bride and groom’s heads during the sacrament of marriage. They are crowns of martyrdom, which means giving selflessly to the other, which is the epitome of true love.

Self-sacrifice is also present in other relationships such as parents to their children, siblings to each other, and in close friendships.  The principle of self-sacrifice in marriage and family is greatly expressed through the two main female characters in the short stories, “The Thirteenth Night” and “Punishment.”

Although “The Thirteenth Night” and “Punishment” take place in different countries, they share the common thread of discontentment in marriage and how the core of selflessness may be lacking in their marriages and familial relationships. The two female protagonists in “The Thirteenth Night” and “Punishment” challenge their marriages that ultimately leads to self-sacrifice through apathy for one and self-sacrifice through tragedy for the other, deeply impacting their relationships.

In “The Thirteenth Night,” the protagonist, Oseki, weighs her desires against the greater good of her family and community, which is demonstrated through her conversations with her parents and her childhood friend.

The story opens with Oseki standing near her parents’ house, disheartened by the task before her–to ask their permission to divorce Isamu, her husband.  She then hears her father’s loud voice talking of all that he is thankful for that has to do with Oseki’s marriage.

She grapples with conflicting thoughts regarding the dire circumstances for her son, Tarō, if she were to leave her husband, and the financial well being of her parents and brother.  For a moment, she thinks, “But if she had her way and went through with the divorce, it would be the end of everything” (Ichiyō 2.7), which are pertaining to her thoughts above:  her relationship with her son and the loss of a job for her brother.

Oseki convinces herself at that moment that the permanent separation from her son and the loss of her brother’s job security are worth discarding for her freedom, and chooses her own desires to end the marriage rather than sacrificing her own wants for the sake of her marriage, son, and family.

Having a close bond with her parents, Oseki feels comfortable enough to share her miseries with her surprised parents.  In her descriptions of Isamu, he is seen as a man of importance, but with that, he displays arrogance and condescending behavior toward Oseki.  She points out, “You know, for the first six months or so after we were married, he was always at my side, doing everything he could for me. But as soon as Tarō was born—it’s frightening how much a man can change!” (Ichiyō 2.8).

Because “The Thirteenth Night” was written in the early 1900s and takes place in Japan in Japanese culture, there were no marriage or family counselors to talk to them about the changes that happen between a husband and wife after the birth of their first child.

We don’t know the details of their backstory, other than their relationship changed after their son was born, and it somehow led to Isamu’s negative changes and infidelities, although infidelities committed by husbands were not unusual in that time period or culture for married couples.  Clearly, there was a break in their relationship that had lost the element of self-sacrifice as well as mutual respect in their marriage.

Oseki’s parents show the customary love and support toward her. However, her father tells her, “Even if he is fussy and a little difficult sometimes, it’s still a wife’s duty to humor her husband” (Ichiyō 2.9). He also reminds her of the consequences of leaving her husband–never being able to see Tarō again.

In the mutual respect between Oseki and her parents, Oseki honors her father in a show of obedience, selflessness, and love, by ultimately making the decision to stay with her husband.

Oseki stays true to the core element of relationships–self-sacrifice.  She reaffirms this after she leaves her parents’ house and takes a rickshaw back home. She discovers the man driving the rickshaw is a childhood friend, Roku, who had once loved her and she him.  He shares all of his struggles in his present life since Oseki’s marriage.  She shares in his pains by saying, “You’re not the only one to suffer in this sad world…” (Ichiyō 2.10).

Once they have finished their conversation, they both go on with their own lives, showing self-sacrifice for the greater good instead of their own desires, keeping their relationships intact.

The difficult decision between the sacrifice of self and the family in “The Thirteenth Night” is explored in the short story, “Punishment,” through the protagonist, Chandara’s decision between life and death; in reconciling her marriage or dying for a crime she didn’t commit.

In dealing with combative relationships with her sister-in-law, Radha, and husband, Chidam, there is very little family support or show of the core element of self-sacrifice in Chandara’s family and marriage.  The story begins with the brothers Dukhiram and Chidam working in the fields with the sound of the daily squabbles between Chandara and Radha being heard throughout the village.

When the brothers get home, Dukhiram has a heated argument with his wife, Radha, and ends up killing her. He crumples to the floor in tears, scared and shocked by what he’d done and what would happen to him.

This terrible incident leads to the brothers consulting with a well-respected citizen of stature in the village. Chidam fears the fate of his brother and decides to say his wife killed Radha instead of his brother. Dukhiram accepts Chidam’s story out of fear and does not question blaming his crime on his sister-in-law.

It is understandable that Chidam would be alarmed and very concerned about his brother because their relationship is very close–they share a house and work together–but in Dukhiram’s cowardness, he does not show self-sacrifice and admit to the authorities that he killed Radha.

The marital relationship of Chidam and Chandara is cluttered with pride, pigheadedness, and jealousy.  Chidam cares more for his brother than his wife as demonstrated when he says to Ramlochan Chakrabarti, an important and outstanding member of the village, “If I lose my wife, I can get another, but if my brother is hanged, how can I replace him?” (Tagore 3.3).

It is true that Chidam only has his one brother, and it is understandable that he would want to save his brother from the damning consequences of his crime, but sacrificing his wife isn’t commendable.  This shows a lack of respect by Chidam for Chandara, and that he views Chandara as less important and inferior to his brother, which was the norm in Indian society at the time.

In his fears for his brother’s circumstances, Chidam adds insult to injury by informing his wife of his plan, for which Chandara is taken aback.  To lessen the blow, he tells her, “Don’t worry—if you do what I tell you, you’ll be quite safe” (Tagore 3.4), but he is not very confident later when he tells her he will get her out of the murder charge soon.  Angry and hurt, Chandara accepts the blame. The actions of Chidam show a deficit in self-sacrificial love to his spouse in their marriage.

In front of the village authorities, headstrong and hurt, Chandara confesses to the crime and later sticks to her confession in court even after Chidam and Dukhiram break down and tell the truth when they are in court.  In prison, Chandara shows her contempt for her husband in not accepting his request to visit her in jail.  She shows pride and desire for revenge against Chidam for hurting her that ultimately leads to her self-sacrifice to be free from her relationship with him by the authorities executing her for the crime (Tagore 3.5).

Both of the marriages in “Punishment” end in death through senseless acts.  The core element of self-sacrifice is twisted in the marital relationship between Chandara and Chidam, whereas she does sacrifice her life for Chidam’s brother, but she does not do it for selfless or honorable reasons.

The two main female characters in “The Thirteenth Night” and “Punishment” struggle with self-sacrifice in their marital relationships by defying their husbands, impacting their families and communities, one temporarily, the other permanently.

In the Japanese culture, “The Thirteenth Night” shows the tradition of collectivism where one makes the sacrifice for the greater good of the whole in the family and community, whereas.

The Indian story, “Punishment,” shows self-sacrifice in giving up one’s life through anger, retaliation, and to be free from the restrictive bonds of marriage and norms.

In the present day, self-sacrifice is still the most endearing and important element in marriage, family, and other relationships.

 

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Works Cited
Ichiyō, Higuchi.  “The Thirteenth Night.” Trans. Robert Lyons Danly. Modern World Literature. Asheville NC: Soomo Publishing, 2016. Web.
Tagore, Rabindranath.  “Punishment.”  Trans. William Radice.  Modern World
Literature.  Asheville NC:  Soomo Publishing, 2016.  Web.

 

 

 

 

 

Vulnerable, Honest – Revealing the Heart in Writing

honesty in chinese

The more I write, the more is revealed to me of who I am. Even as I create fictional characters, there is always an aspect of truth to them, and truth to the story. My experiences help me to chisel out events, scenes, and character traits.

In the past few weeks of revising, once again, my novel, Passage of Promise, as I run it through my online critique group, I’ve realized the importance of being honest. Being honest with myself on who I really am, what I truly need to write. Because it comes from a deep, vulnerable place in my heart.

I need to write truthfully, honestly, from the depths of my soul. Writing to please others for which I think they’d be most interested in at this moment in time, will not sustain the timelessness of my story, nor be completely genuine. It won’t make me feel satisfied with what I’ve produced.

mother teresa quote on honesty

It won’t be completely ME, coming solely from my heart, my imagination, my experiences, and my unique voice. All writers possess these. And we should strive to type/write these indelible marks of ourselves on the pages of our stories.

Be courageous. Be honest. Be vulnerable. Be Yourself. And let it sparkle within the words of your fictional works.

 

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