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Thursday, July 17, 2014

What Can I Do?

I am very discouraged these days. There are so many causes for concern, and I feel powerless to do anything about them.

I don't know how many more stories of animal abuse and slaughter I can take. My heart breaks every time I read a story about a magnificent elephant or rhino murdered for its tusks or horn, or see pictures of some fat-ass slob grinning stupidly with the body of a beautiful animal killed for 'sport.' I'm not talking about hunting for food. I'm talking about the slaughter of lions, zebras, cheetahs, wolves, bears and other wild animals. Of course, I can't ignore the never-ending pleas for foster or adoption of animals on death row, and for money to care for them and treat their wounds. Our justice system has a long way to go before it metes out the punishment animal abusers deserve. Far too often they get off with probation. And don't forget the slaughter of 4 million animals in 2013 by the secretive, taxpayer-funded USDA Wildlife Services agency. This world sickens me.

And it isn't just animals that are suffering. Local news has been filled with reports of children being abused or killed by their parents or guardians. Little kids are left to die in hot cars by parents who decide it's more important to go shopping or play video games or get high than to care for their kids.  Kids are kicked to death ("I kicked him the wrong way") or beaten or shaken or raped by those supposedly there to protect them.

Our planet is suffering, too. The oceans are filled with trash, rivers are polluted, forests are being destroyed, 'development' of vacant land continues unabated, glaciers are melting, and we are running out of water. Animals are driven from their homes as more and more construction goes on in their habitat. As they seek food in previously uninhabited areas, they encounter humans who consider them a threat or nuisance, and the animals are killed. Elected officials in parts of Utah are demanding that the federal government turn over to the state millions of acres of land. A few even rode their ATVs onto land that is off limits to motorized vehicles because it is rich in archeological sites. Rabid followers of these thugs have even threatened to kill Bureau of Land Management staff.

And let's not forget the current abysmal state of our country. We have a totally dysfunctional Congress whose members are far more interested in getting reelected and lining their own pockets than in dealing with the nation's business. They answer to no one but their puppet masters who fund their campaign coffers. And if one party can make the other party look bad, so much the better. Face it -- this country is a mess. We owe China billions of dollars, the economy is limping along, millions of jobs have disappeared and are not coming back, the infrastructure (roads, bridges, electric grid, water system, etc.) is on the verge of collapse, the country is being overrun with hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, and we spend billions of dollars every year on foreign and military aid to other countries, many of which hate us. While we shovel billions of dollars to other countries and engage in unwinnable wars, our own people go hungry, live on the streets or in slums, or go without medical and mental health care. 

I feel incredibly helpless in the face of such overwhelming problems. We are in the 21st century, yet so many act as if we're still living in the dark ages. I do what I can to help. I donate money to a variety of non-profit organizations struggling to make a difference in the world. I boycott ivory, I boycott products from states whose wildlife 'management' policies consist of little more than shooting, trapping or poisoning the offending species. I recycle and reuse. But I feel that my efforts make no difference. 

I recently adopted two dogs from a woman who is gravely ill. People have told me what a wonderful thing I did, and how this must have brought great peace of mind to their former guardian. What I felt, however, was that since these dogs were in no danger of being killed in an animal shelter, perhaps I should have adopted a dog or two that were at risk of being killed.

People tell me I can't fix the world or solve all its problems. That is a hard reality, and one I must accept. But nonetheless, it hurts to hear about the continuing destruction, abuse and slaughter that goes on in this world. It hurts to recognize the reality that this world, rather than becoming kinder, is getting more cruel. It hurts to see that the never-ending pursuit by politicians and businesses of ever more money trumps everything else. And it hurts to know that I and others like me -- people with limited resources who want to make this world a better place -- are powerless.

I'm not wealthy, so I cannot donate millions of dollars to a favorite cause. I cannot change the cruel behavior of others. I cannot stop 'developers' from turning natural habitat into still more houses or shopping malls. And since I cannot cure the world's problems, all I can do is soldier on, doing what I can to help. I will continue to sign petitions, send letters, boycott offending states and countries, donate when I can, and adopt animals in need. I will continue to live my life in a positive way, striving to make a difference in the lives of the dogs I rescue, and the people my donated food helps to feed. I will continue to recycle and reuse, to take my own shopping bags to the store when I shop. 

And I will continue to pray that maybe, some day, people will care about this planet and all the creatures trying to survive with us supposedly more intelligent humans.