It Takes Courage To Speak Up for Wildlife

I worked a month cleaning dorm rooms at the beginning of a summer during my MBA studies with the goal of earning enough money to travel the remainder of the summer. A fellow student and friend signed up for the job too so we buddied up to clean together during the long work days.

One hot day during our lunch break, we sat out on the steps to the building in part to get some fresh air but also to get some quiet time while we ate our sack lunches. We were mostly quiet from exhaustion, but chatted about our summer plans after the cleaning job ended.

Towards the end of our lunch break, I noticed an ant carrying a leaf across the sidewalk in an impressive show of strength and fortitude. I said to my friend, “If this ant can keep going carrying that load, I am sure we can finish this last week of cleaning.” We both laughed a bit in agreement, but then she stood up, walked over and stomped on the ant, crushing the wee creature.

Shocked and momentarily speechless. I looked at her, while she was still laughing, and asked, “What is wrong with you?” She said, “It’s only an ant.” To which I replied, “Exactly. This ant was not bothering you, It was just going about it’s life. Why kill it?”

Our lunch break was over and we went back inside to our buckets and rags. I remained mostly silent the remainder of the day, put on my headphones and listened to music. At the end of the day, she asked if I was still upset over her killing the ant. I responded that it wasn’t anger I was feeling. I had a hard time describing exactly what I was feeling, but the truth was, I never thought of her the same again.

It was an ant. I understand we likely walk over insects going about their lives every day, but to purposefully harm another creature, that to me was a different story. What if everyone thought it was acceptable to kill another living creature out of convenience or for no reason at all?

The World Population Clock calculates that there are 7.7 billion people on earth. What if every person poisoned all the bees, spiders, ants? This makes it easier to understand why the insect population is in a 40% decline and not just “nuisance” insects but pollinators that we rely on for our crops.

We have wiped out 83% of wild mammals and half of the plants. Of all the mammals on earth, 96% are livestock and humans and only 4% are wild. A recent United Nations report warns that one million species are at risk of extinction.

Shouldn’t we all speak up? Speak up against pesticides, against trophy hunting, against killing wolves to protect livestock? Yes, it takes courage to stand up to what has become the norm, to speak out against the killing for convenience, to the hunting culture, to cruelty to animals.

If you calmly offer your dissenting opinion, you might see others sigh or roll their eyes. That is alright. You can walk away knowing you had the courage to speak for those with no voice and you might just get someone else to listen, understand and speak out too.

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