Once again I ask, “What is the meaning of life?” What are we doing here? What are we exactly? A biological entity that lives, procreates, and dies? A spirit housed in a biological body? If a spirit, to what end? To what purpose do we live? Surely not the continuation of life without other purpose, nor the spirit without destiny? Why are we here? What happens when the biologic dies? In what form does the spirit continue? Do we determine our individual end, or does some higher power hold the keys to our fate? Are we responsible for our own futures, both here and on to infinity? When we are ethical, loving, and compassionate is it out of fear or to a higher purpose? What causes that dark and evil side of us? We are all humans, and thus we are all part of the best and worst of us. This line of thought began running through my mind after reading an article in TIME magazine, “Cry of the Wild”.
At first I was struck by tragedy of the loss of members of an endangered species, but then I found myself asking what evil would cause us, human beings, to behave in such a depraved manner? In Congo’s Virunga National Park, four members of a 12-member family of mountain gorillas were slaughtered, murdered. No trophies were taken, no meat, two valuable (on the black market) infants were orphaned and left – it was senseless. One of the females was set alight after she was murdered. The park wardens who found the huge 600-pound male silverback said, “What man would do this? Not even a beast would do this.”
Hunting, especially in Central and West Africa is increasing to terrifying heights; hunting now constitutes the pre-eminent threat to some species. Hunting, even of protected animals, is a global, multimillion-dollar business. The logging and mining industries have opened the forest to the hunters by providing roads. Three weeks after a logging company opened up one Congo forest, the density of animals fell more than 25 percent; a year after a logging road went into the forest areas in Sarawak, Malaysia, in 2001, not a single large mammal remained.
What I find really offensive is the fact that eating bushmeat is now a status symbol. It’s considered supersexy to eat bushmeat. Every year a single province in Laos exports $3.6 million worth of wildlife… In Sumatra about 51 tigers were killed each year between 1998 and 2002; there are currently an estimated 350 tigers left on the island and fewer than 5,000 in the world.
The background to the horror occurring in the Congo is another atrocity – the Rwandan back and forth genocide of Hutus and Tutsis. After the massacre of Rwandan Tutsis in 1994 Hutu extremists retreated to the park. Three years ago 8,000 Rwandans crossed the border into Virunga and mowed down more than 3,000 acres of prime gorilla habitat in less than three weeks. The ongoing violence has seen the mountain gorilla population caught in the middle.
Global warming is a problem indeed, but what about a planet with no wildlife? It is a real possibility, and don’t we think that will affect the balance of life on the planet?
To me it is blood on more blood. I have traveled all about the world and I have yet to find a place that did not contain both good and evil, but in certain spots there is a conflux where a critical mass of evil clothed in violence seems to walk unimpeded. A witch stirs the caldron and sets countries afire. The Middle East through history is one, and Central Africa, along with what used to be Yugoslavia another. Seeing the pictures of the four gorillas bound to poles and carried from the forest full of bullet holes was heartbreaking. What could they have possibly done to deserve such a fate? Nothing, they had done nothing but live. I ask again what could bring us to such evil? This is the same area of the world of the child solider which is another post in itself.
We can’t just shake our heads and think, “it’s over there”. The world is too small for that. We are responsible for the evil in the world caused by man, each of us. We must pay attention lest it next call at our door.