Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day, and Treasures Lost

I am thankful for all our blessings today. Some come only because of the hard work of many Americans. Many more can only be explained as a gift of grace. I am mindful today that with great blessings come great responsibilities. We haven't always done so good with that.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the extinction of an entire species at our own hands. The Passenger Pigeon was once one of the most numerous animals on the planet. It's hard for us to believe now, but their great flocks could darken the sky for hours (or days) at a time. Their numbers were seemly limitless, and yet we hunted them to extinction for food, sport, and spite. The last one, a captive bird named Martha, died in a zoo 100 years ago today.

We can do better. We have done better. We restrained ourselves and saved the American Bison and Bald Eagle from the same fate—barely. We have become mindful of our own impact on other species and ecosystems. We have tried to do better. We don't welcome restraint, especially if it affects our purse, but few people truly want to do harm to other species. Mostly we are oblivious to our own effects.

I am hopeful today that we can recognize the wondrous natural blessings that form our world. The world is full of wonder and beauty, full of species beyond human imagination. The natural world is more than a place for recreation and beauty. It is our home. And it is wonderful. And every creature is a grace to be treasured.

John Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, had some timely thoughts in The New York Times yesterday (click for link), if you're interested.

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