The last of the mighty big and free were prisoners guarded with guns,
the named among popular relics saved for trophies
like swaths of impressive land and sea
or captive specimens locked in laboratory cages
within rooms without windows.
And they were all whats
And they were all its
Some to be numbered, released, and watched
Why? Because the body’s pleasure had been denied
Sanctity? Because, after being treated as an object
forgetting all souls housed,
someone claimed the body an object
nothing more than material to be used, maybe,
and more, a curiosity to be observed
in a photograph pinned to the wall
now pornographed on screen
Child sex trophies along with wives
for the successful
not so different at root
than skulls placed in plastic bags
labels noting where they were found,
an estimate of when they were killed
All too common to count,
the fortunately unfortunate heartsease got away
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is written with thoughts on the militarization of species conservation and particularly rhino's defense, as well as personal and national offense and defense in general. The poem is revised from an original written during a month's witness with Rhino in 2014. From February 2014 to September 2015, I practiced a revolving monthly witness at Extinction Witness, shifting attention to a different group (not species specific) each month, reflecting on their nature as well as relationship with humans, past and present. The content below on living yet not being alive and poacher's mentality is also from a monthly witness post, during a stretch when I was reflecting and expanding upon the earlier work. All of the original monthly witness posts are in process of editing for archive at www.extinctionwitness.org
To live yet not be alive.
As a woman and mother, I do not feel alive when my living is dependent upon the slaughter of other women, their families, and communities comprised of diverse individuals and species. All children of all walks are my concern. With my life, I will protect as many as I possibly can from senseless violence and foster community while refusing to kill someone suffering the absence of community.
At this point, protecting rhino means disarming rhino, removing the temptation that is rhino's horn and natural defense. Let this be a sign for men, women, and nations. When there is not enough for greed and yet greed runs reckless, the safe, sure way is to disarm and share - to feed and shelter everyone immediately and carefully and as soon as possible.
Though arising of love, attempting to avoid one's physical death at any cost means saving a life can itself be violent. Violence at the beginning and end of a life is common practice in a culture that resists death among the young and the old who are frail. One moment of bliss counters one thousand lifetimes of suffering. And once this moment of bliss is lived, there is no fear of death because one has seen through the veil of coming and going. There is and there is no severance.
the poacher's mentality
While Sudan, the lone male white rhino, is guarded by men with guns at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia, Kenya, an all-female unarmed militia protects orphaned rhinos in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. With whole community consciousness and all five subspecies of rhino near to extinction, women are rooting themselves in acts of "bravery and principle versus money and violence".
Well-intentioned men are ready to kill poachers to extend Sudan's life and then perhaps the existence of the sub-species. Well-intentioned men have for many generations been willing to kill other people in the interest of keeping someone or something in the world, be the someone themselves, their own families or their way of life.
The corporate CEO is no more immune to or at fault for this universal misfortune than the poacher, gunman, and bodyguard. Everyone with a hand in the global economy has a hand in resulting assassinations and genocides. Jailing poachers and fining corporations for murdurous activity does nothing to address the root isolation and alienation that drives crimes against humaneness.
The poacher exists in a world of unjust competition and scarcity. The weapons he carries are manufactured and sold by the same entity that makes and sells the guns that will be turned against him. There is that. Then there is the worldview that gives rise to the manufacture of those weapons. William deBuys reflects on this 'poacher's mentality' in The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of Earth's Rarest Creatures.
The poacher's belief is 'if I do not take this, someone else will'. The poacher's belief itself arises from subtle paranoia, which may stem from imprints during early childhood development and are surely reinforced by the experience of being denied the basics in nourishment and shelter among others who suffered that imprint and enjoy short-term benefits of ruthless competition.
In time, this independent dream destroys itself because the ground of being is interdependence. This ultimate failure of dreaming independently, now apparent at the planetary scale, holds potential for changing the game.
This change is necessarily circular and represents the dissolution of hierarchy. For in community, there is no bottom and top of the barrel. In community, the first one in line passes the cup all the way to the last person in line understanding what it would feel like to be the sole survivor of famine's generosity.
Peace is everyone nourished. While, peace is ultimately determined by 100% of the population, peace is not sealed by a few choosing to share their extreme wealth. Peace is sealed by the majority center sharing their wealth, for those in the center have too long been selfish, feeding energetically / physically the extremes of isolating material poverty and wealth.
So long as neighbors are not sharing with one another, there will be someone willing to kill for money. The global citizen participating in a global economy is responsible to neighbors of all walks throughout the world. Modeling behavior change is not only the way to effectively translate the urgency of this moment, but is the concept of community put to practice.
Extreme imbalances call for extreme measures. Extreme measures need not perpetuate unnecessary violence. Physically removing a poacher does not dissolve the poacher's mentality aggravated by isolation and overproduction driving human suicide, hunger, mass species extinction, and global climate change.
To dissolve the poacher's mentality, restore intimacy driven by the bareness of knowing that one is always as vulnerable to the world as when first passed from a mother's womb and all needs were met by the mother's body held and nourished within the grand arms of biodiverse community.
Land and sea choke on unwanted plastic while the rape and slaughter of 'disposable' children spoils the origins. Let the unspeakable grief shatter walls confining passion.
Make art of weapons within and without. Not one more bullet.
Bravery and Principle - female, unarmed militia
Sudan - Last Male White Rhino Standing
Paradigm for Peace
Peoples Nonviolence Charter
Picturing Restorative Justice - Joan Kresich
Game Changer Intensive / Pachamama Alliance
Corporal Generosity / Feminine & Masculine Collaboration
Envisioning what's possible / Project Drawdown
Natural Capital Project
#DisarmFear #DisarmHate #IFeelAlive