Heute ein Foto vom untergehenden Mai Vollmond über der Arillas Bucht.
Am 5.4. war United Nations International Day of Conscience. An diesem Tag sprach Jane Goodall, britische Verhaltensforscherin, die mit Forschungen zum Verhalten von Schimpansen bekannt wurde. Wir finden diese Rede sehr bemerkenswert und möchten dazu beitragen, dass sie nicht in Vergessenheit gerät und die darin angesprochenen Fragen und Themen uns weiter beschäftigen!
That still, small voice of our conscience
We are going through very dark times as this covid-19 pandemic sweeps around the world. So much suffering as people fall sick including doctors and nurses on the front line working selflessly to help others. The tragedy is that we have not learned from past pandemics of this sort even though we know how they originate, even though the one we are experiencing now has been long predicted. As we destroy the natural world we bring wild animals into closer and closer contact with each other and this enables viruses to jump from one species to another. And the meat markets where wild animals are sold for food in horrible and unhygienic conditions create conditions that enable viruses to cross the species barrier and jump from an animal to a human. This may create a new mutation as happened in a so-called wet market, where live animals are sold as food or traditional medicine in Wuhan, China. The Covid 19 coronavirus is thought to have originated from a bat or a pangolin. And epidemics have been created also by close contact between people and domestic animals in the horrendous conditions of many “factory farms”.
During my 85 years on planet Earth I have witnessed the horrific harm we have inflicted on the environment. And the terrible cruelty that we have inflicted on each other. I have seen how wealthy countries have raped poorer countries for their natural resources, often leading to corrupt leaders becoming wealthy while vast numbers of the population fall ever deeper into poverty and desperation – so that many, including children, are forced to work long hours in the fields, or making garments or working in dangerous conditions in the mines. They make just enough to keep them alive – so that we can buy cheap goods – and the rich can get richer.
Today we should think about the growing gap between the haves and have nots. The crippling poverty not just in the poorer countries, but in the wealthiest. Homeless people in London and New York sleep on streets where the wealthy walk past without a thought and ride the elevator to luxury apartments and champagne dinners.
So many of us take things for granted. We buy food in the supermarket – and waste a lot. There is always water in the tap or to flush the toilet. Yet there are millions of people living close to death from lack of food, getting sick from contaminated water, fleeing from parts of the world becoming uninhabitable because of the climate crisis. And the climate crisis is having the most devastating effect on the poor. It is not only from war and persecution that refugees flee today – millions seek refuge from an environment that has become increasingly hostile. And meet hostility of a crueller kind in the places where they finally arrive.
And on this first International day of conscience let us realize that we are not the only sentient beings on the planet. In 1962 I was told that there was a difference in kind between us and other animals – even between us and our closest biological and behavioural relative, the chimpanzee. Only humans I was told, had personalities, minds and emotions. Fortunately I had been taught, as a child, that that was not true. My teacher was my dog, Rusty. Today science acknowledges that humans are NOT the only sentient beings and that animals too can feel pain, fear, joy and grief. And we are continually learn more about the amazing intelligence shown by animals from chimpanzees, to pigs, to crows, to octopuses.
Knowing this, let us pause to think of the billions of animals hunted in the wild, trafficked to be sold for food, for entertainment, to be tortured in medical and pharmaceutical research laboratories and so on. And of the billions of animals treated as walking food in factory farms. And let us realize that each of these animals is a sentient beings Each one has his or her personality and emotions. Each one can feel pain, fear, despair.
Let me end with my reasons for hope. We will get through this pandemic as we have got through others. Many of us will have realised, as we are confined to our houses in lockdown, as we face shortage of supplies – especially toilet paper! – that we should no longer take our freedom and health for granted. And that we should have more respect for the natural world. We shall be better people, more understanding, more compassionate, more respectful of each other and of the animals for whom this planet is also home.
This is the first international day of conscience. Let it be a wakeup call so that every day of every year we try to find ways to address inequality, and make ethical choices in what we buy and eat and wear We must allow that “still small voice” of our conscience to sound louder and louder until, when head and heart work in harmony, we shall finally attain our true human potential.