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

Finding Connection in a World of Division

ships on storm sea

(painted by Ludolf Backhuysen)

It’s been a chaotic and busy past few weeks, and it has left me absent from my blogging. I apologize to my followers that I’ve been MIA. I’ve been steadily working through my Advanced Creative Writing course assignments, for which two weeks are left. It’s hard to believe I’ll be done with college after this class!

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has been bombarded by the insanity going on in our world, in our country (USA for me), through news stories and the comments/responses from them. I see divisions in just about every realm possible, and it’s distressing. Story headlines that are hyperbolic, or just plain false on both the left and the right. The lack of respectful discourse anywhere in the cyber world and in many cases, the real world/in person, is also distressing.

People on the right calling people on the left “commies” and “libtards.”  People on the left calling people on the right “fascists” and “nazis.” When somebody disagrees with someone in a comments section of anything from a youtube news video to an online news article, the person disagreeing with the person tells them to go kill themselves. Really? It’s shocking and horrible someone could say that to another human being.

Our society has turned into the loud voices of extremism and insanity, especially on social media. The social media megaphone is saturated with bombastic verbiage, dehumanizing each other, devouring our fellow human beings. It’s disgusting.

Heaven forbid you agree with something some politician said from one party, because then you’re branded a member of the opposition party as if you’re their enemy, even though you’re not with any party.

Our political parties and its members are like sororities/fraternities or football teams and their fans. ANATHEMA TO YOU if you agree with even an iota of what a member of the enemy team may express. Heaven forbid you think for yourself and don’t jump on the bandwagon and follow the masses in agreeing or disagreeing with whatever sorry sap is burning in the spotlight for that week.

Because I’ve watched and seen this, the truth is, there are some issues on which both the classic conservatives and classic liberals agree. Same with the neoliberals and neoconservatives. But they continue to act as if they have nothing in common and are enemies. This is a falsehood encouraged by the corporate media and extremists out there.

It’s really important to have standards and be consistent. If one side does something crappy, call them out. If another side does something along the same veins of crappy, call them out. Be big enough to admit your fellow political member said something that wasn’t accurate, or that you might *gasp* not totally agree with. Be big enough to agree with someone who is usually in opposition to your beliefs but says something that you *gasp* actually agree with. Stand for consistent principles, not hypocrisy.

Why are we aiding enemies like Saudi Arabia and Al Quaeda? What are we fighting for? An ideology? Or is it about money/greed/profit, resources, power? As a pro-lifer, I read and researched this issue, and it’s something I care about.

Nobody asks WHY. Why did they attack that group of people? Why are they on drugs? Why are suicides up? Why aren’t they learning about other people’s cultures instead of blowing up their countries? Why do we have an increase in terrorism? Why do we think it’s “normal” for college boys to sexually assault women? Why is this embedded in our culture? Why have men and women become even more divided than ever before? Why don’t we learn from our mistakes?

As you can see, a lot has been on my mind in between my course work and writing. I ask myself questions when I make a decision or come to an opinion on something. I ask why I think this way. What made me come to this conclusion? What’s the culture or social status in which I live and grew up? Should I think this way? I’m far from perfect. Quite the opposite. I just try to live my life keeping balanced and not going from one end of the spectrum to the other end.

I ask that we work on seeing each other as people first, people made in His Image, people equal to us in God’s eyes. That we are not each other’s enemies. We don’t agree with anyone one hundred percent, and that would be boring anyway. We disagree with our family and friends on at least some issues, but that shouldn’t bar us from loving them and seeing the value of our relationships and mutual humanity over a political or religious issue that we may disagree with.

When will we be able to sit down and discuss any topic in a respectful manner without misinterpreting and coming in with preconceived ideas through our own political or worldview mindset, responding bitterly with talking points, the company line, etc.? In this tumultuous, enflamed society, it’s very hard.

Will we ever get back to that lost art of respectful discourse, or is it gone forever?

 

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Playing God Frankenstein Style

 

pic of silhouette of frankenstein

(revised college essay from spring 2018 for blog material)

In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein’s desired to be God in creating a new species of life, causing him to become enslaved to his passions of pride, vainglory, and lust for power.

The copious fervent scientific discoveries in Shelley’s era also produced prideful actions and lust for power, with disastrous results for Victor, his family, and the creature throughout and culminating at the end of the story.

According to the book, Path to Sanity, in Christianity, three core sins exist in every human being: pride, self-love, and vainglory. Humanity struggles to eradicate them from their minds, souls, and bodies.  These three give birth to all other sins, including a lust for power—a power to change the world, be unstoppable through nefarious and sinful acts, such as murder, hate, and judging other beings harshly.

In his teens, Victor Frankenstein was deeply fascinated with science, especially chemistry, and became obsessed with creating a new species, a new being, similar to humans, using human body parts from corpses he obtained from graves.  His obsessive actions are evident while he was producing this creature, saying, “My cheeks had grown pale with study, and my person had become emaciated with confinement” (Shelley 32).  His sinful passions had begun to consume him as he toiled in a dark and cheerless lab for hours on end, creating the creature.  Illness afflicted him.

Through his pride, Victor thought he could become God himself in creating a new living being (Hetherington).  Through this, a lust for power, like the power (minus the lust) God has in fashioning his creation, and vainglory in wanting recognition and fame for his earth-shattering work, Victor said, “Life and death appears to me ideal bounds, which should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world.  A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me” (Shelley 31).

His whole person—mind, body, and soul—was consumed with this endeavor, as he explained, “My limbs now tremble, and my eyes swim with the remembrance; but then a resistless, and almost frantic impulse, urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit” (Shelley 32).  Therefore, this passion overtook him and enslaved him (Reed), causing him to commit terrible acts, in which he elucidated, “Who shall conceive the honors of my secret toil, as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave, or tortured a living animal to animate the lifeless clay?” (Shelley 32).

graveyard

At certain times, he realized his passions were ruling him and causing him ailments, and said, “Every night I was oppressed by a slow fever, and I became nervous to a most painful degree; a disease that I regretted the more because I had hitherto enjoyed most excellent health, and had always boasted of the firmness of my nerves” (Shelley 33).

These sinful passions nearly destroyed him then, but he finally completed his creation, “on a dreary night of November, that I beheld my accomplishment of my toils” (Shelley 33).  Victor discovered he’d made a large, distorted, ugly creature.  He lamented, “I had desired it with an ardor that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and a breathless horror and disgust filled my heart” (Shelley 34).

Through his use of his prideful will, Victor lusted for power, and the result was an imperfect creation and his own disappointment in this, which now enslaved him to these passions.  This being for which Victor fled from the lab after seeing it come alive, would be a constant reminder of his egregious error, a lesson on what happens when one desires to be God and asserts one’s arrogant will over His Will (Reed).

chains of bondage from sins

When Victor abandoned the creature to wander about ignorant of the world and its inhabitants, like a newborn baby, the creature, desperate and lonely, killed Victor’s youngest brother, William.  Victor blamed this horrible act solely on his creation, saying, “He was the murderer!” (Shelley 46).

Eventually, Victor showed some remorse when a family friend, Justine, was accused and executed for William’s death.  He said, “The fangs of remorse tore my bosom” (Shelley 52).  He realized he was partly to blame for the murder because of creating the creature, but he still wasn’t aware that the brunt of the blame lay squarely on his own shoulders until later in the story.  And even as he discovered this, his bondage to his sinful passions had not been loosened.

He continued to blame the creature more so than himself until the creature murdered his best friend, Henry. He told Henry’s lifeless body, “Have my murderous machinations deprived you also, my dearest Henry, of life?  Two I have already destroyed; other victims await their destiny” (Shelley 118).

The weight of his actions in producing the creation finally sunk in.  It was only through the tragic losses of his loved ones that he truly acknowledged his damning and culpable behavior, because his sinful passions reverberated throughout the universe affecting  humanity in the world.

After the creature murdered Victor’s wife, Elizabeth, Victor determined to terminate the creature because he believed that was the only way to end the killings, but he never caught up to the creature, as the latter’s strength and quickness exceeded his own.  Victor never truly recovered mentally and physically from his ailments and misery. His bondage to his sinful thoughts and actions stayed with him (Reed).

When Victor abandoned his creation, the creature trekked around the Swiss Alps and beyond.  He learned to read and about the nature of human relationships by observing for months the De Lacey family in their mountain cabin.  He took to gathering wood for them in the middle of the night so Felix, the young man of the house, would find the bundle of firewood by the cabin the next morning.  In showing his generosity, the creature revealed a soft side, a compassionate heart for others that were not of his own species.

The creature learned to read through listening to Felix teach his girlfriend, Safie. He read Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Bible and found he somewhat related to Adam, God’s first human creation, but also to the fallen angel/devil because both were banished by their Creator (Ryan).

However, the creature realized even “Satan had his companions, fellow devils, to admire and encourage him, but I am solitary and detested” (Shelley 85). No one else of his species existed. He was utterly alone, and when the De Laceys found him in their cabin pleading with the blind elder, Mr. De Lacey, they screamed in horror.  Felix struggled to remove the creature from their house.  Minutes later, the creature left of his own volition, wounded and hurt by their harsh actions (Shelley).

Throughout his trek, villagers gasped, shrieked, grimaced, and covered their faces when they’d seen him.  Compassion and love weren’t present in their hearts.  A total outcast, the creature belonged to no one and nowhere (Sarkar).  Victor, his own creator, mirrored the villagers’ behavior.

Feeling isolated, alone, hated, and disgusted by all humans, the creature cried, “All, save I, were at rest or in enjoyment:  I, like the arch fiend, bore a hell within me; and, finding myself unsympathized with, wished to tear up the trees, spread havoc and destruction around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin” (Shelley 89).  He vowed to inflict pain and misery on these heartless beings.

The villagers’ actions toward the creature’s hideous appearance (Sarkar) violated two vital tenets of Christianity—love your neighbor and do not judge others.  Because the creature looked weird, ugly, and different from themselves, fear took hold of them, and they judged his outer appearance without learning of his inner heart. Out of this ignorance, fear, and lack of love to befriend the creature, hate grew inside them.

The sinful passions of Victor coupled with the villagers’ hatefulness and judging behavior destroyed both he and his creation.

love one another pic don't judge pic

In the era in which Shelley’s Frankenstein was written, a relentless burgeoning of scientific discoveries occurred, one of which was medical advances in which the European society saw as a type of panacea for life’s problems. They adopted a utopian view of the world, and pride took over in the medical and scientific communities (Allen).

Surgeons and anatomists made significant strides in fighting off many diseases that had been unsuccessfully fought in the past.  They started to question the origin of human life.  This became a hot debate in the scientific community, called Vitalism, which questioned humanity’s origin and the possibility to create it.  Victor Frankenstein asked those questions himself, saying, “Whence, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed?” (Shelley 29-30).  Shelley’s character echoed the thoughts and voices of the scientific community in that time and place in which she lived.

Just as ethical questions have been raised over embryonic stem cell research and cloning in our modern day, in Shelley’s day, some people were uncomfortable with Vitalism and what it produced.

The ethical question of playing God was a concern in the late 1700s and early 1800s in Shelley’s era.  To what lengths would the surgeons of her time go to discover medical advances? In order for them to continue their research, they needed subjects to test and dissect.  These surgeons used the dead bodies of criminals.  Grave robbing became prevalent then.  The corpses were stolen from their graves for research (Allen).  These doctors had no respect for the dead because in life those people had committed crimes.

Because of the fervor of relentless scientific advances, these surgeons and anatomists’ desires grew into obsessions, and ultimately passions of pride and murder.  When a shortage of corpses of criminals happened, these doctors and scientists stole corpses of law-abiding citizens from their tombs (Allen).

Eventually, there were reported stories, such as one about a surgeon who was “caught buying corpses that had not been robbed from graves, but in fact murdered for the purpose of experimentation” (Allen).  These appalling stories sometimes ended up in the literature of the era.

Shelley’s Frankenstein certainly reflected these events through Victor’s obsession and willful pride to create a new species of being through digging up bodies from graves to use for his creation.  His lack of respect for the dead also reflected these real life events, where in the text, he says, “A church-yard was to me merely a receptacle of bodies deprived of life,” and says he visited “vaults and charnel houses” (Shelley 30).

These scientists and doctors allowed their pride, vainglory, and lust for power in determining the life and death of other people’s lives, to overtake their sensibilities.  In addition, in Shelley’s era of Romanticism, people looked upon nature as holy, beautiful, and mysterious in a somewhat religious sense.

thomas cole voyage of life youth painting

(Thomas Cole’s The Voyage of Life: Youth (1842)

Wordsworth, the poet, expressed the desecrations of graves, bodies, and murder in his poem, “The Table’s Turned,” saying, “Sweet is the love which nature brings/Our meddling intellect/Misshapes the beauteous forms of things/We murder to dissect” (Allen).

Shelley’s Frankenstein illustrates the consequences of the sinful passions of attempting to be God, as Victor Frankenstein toiled to mimic in creating the creature. Lacking love, humility, and repentance, his passions brought he, his family, and his creature misery, torment, and ultimately death.

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Works Cited
Allen, Stephanie.  “Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ is a Cautionary Tale on Monstrosity of Which
Humans are Capable.” Oxford Royal Academy.  22 January 2014. https://www.oxford-royale.co.uk/articles/shelley-frankenstein.html. Accessed 21 March 2018.
Hetherington, Naomi.  “Creator and Created in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.”  Keats-Shelley
Review, vol. 11, 1997, pp. 1-39.  http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/Articles/hether.html.
Accessed 21 March 2018.
Reed, John.  “Will and Fate in Frankenstein.”  Bulletin of Research in the Humanities, vol. 8, 1980, pp. 319-38.  http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/Articles/reed.html. Accessed 3 April 2018.
Ryan, Robert M. “Mary Shelley’s Christian Monster.” The Wordsworth Circle, vol. 19:3, 1988,
  1. 150-55. http://knarf.english.upenn.edu/Articles/ryan.html. Accessed 19 March 2018.
Sarkar, Proshanta.  “Frankenstein:  An Echo of Social Alienation and Social Madness.”  IOSR
Journal of Humanities And Social Science(IOSR-JHSS), vol. 9, issue 3, 2013, pp. 29-32.
http://www.iosrjournals.org/iosr-jhss/papers/Vol9-issue3/F0932932.pdf. Accessed 22
March 2018.