If we do not have a reverence for all life, does any life really matter?
Having reverence for life is to extend good manners to every being on this planet. Having reverence for life means that we understand there is an energy that gives all of us life, including the natural world.
We extend good manners to every form of life around us. That is to understand reverence for life.
Edward Abbey said, “It is not enough to understand the natural world; the point is to defend and preserve it.”
Yes, our exploitation of the natural world means that we must now defend and preserve it. In the natural world, death occurs as part of the lifecycle.
Death, at the hands of the human species, occurs for myriad reasons, many of which have nothing to do with survival and everything to do with anger.
We act as if we are in control of this planet. We are not. It is not the natural world that needs us. We need it.
More and more, our outrage separates us from revealing a reverence for life. That separation may very well be killing us and the planet.
We are not united in our outrage. Rather, we compare and contrast the act of killing animals with other senseless, human deaths killed on the streets where they live.
There is not time to mourn one life before another is taken. There is no outlet for our outrage.
At the core of this divisive anger is a lack of compassion, although compassion is at the core of every major religious tradition as is the fragility and importance of each life on this planet.
We are not looking through a wide-angle lens. We have narrowed our scope.
There is confusion of equality with equanimity because we do not examine why we keep ourselves separate from rather than connecting with reverence for life.
All of this arguing over which life is more relevant/important is like comparing apples and oranges. How can one death matter more than another—ever–especially when we profess a reverence for all life?
We demand that an apple is an orange and vice versa. They have a relationship as fruit yet they are not the same from the outside in or the inside out.
Each apple or orange has unique characteristics. To have the same expectations for both is to deny life as well as our connection to it. We are denying our own existence.
No matter how many times we say it, one life does not matter more than another. Such a comparison separates us.
“…we unerringly manage to destroy every environment we go into. All, I suspect, downstream of a survival technique that worked quite well when there were only a few thousand of us and all we had were stone tools and sticks. “
In another fine essay on controlling our lives, “Breaking Free,” Liz Beres offers a unique perception on living in the here and now: she offers that it requires “an incessant acceptance of permeable principles. “
With “permeable principles,” we extend good manners. Life is approached with equanimity, with a respect for each and every life on this planet. There is a reverence for all life. We extend good manners.
These days, it is difficult not to be angry. Some days, I just cannot stop myself. However, I have learned that in hanging onto my anger, I will only give it life in other places, inadvertently or no.
In maintaining a connection with all life, I have an outlet for my outrage. That may sound too simplistic. Maybe it is but I know it is difficult to do. Human history reveals that.
The natural world provides for our existence. We need it. It does not need us. Never has.
Not all the anger in the world will change that.
KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, she blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.