We live in a difficult moment, one filled with extinctions. In response, we raise our voices and demand change. There is hope yet, although hope must coexist with the very real threat that no one is listening. There is a nightmarish quality to things, as we find ourselves struggling to make sense of events over which we have little control. I strive to remember that we are not alone, that others have lived on the brink, perhaps are living now on a razor’s edge. I want to acknowledge that our ancestors faced similar times, learned to fight back and to hide, awaiting a better day. I struggle to appreciate their choices, to applaud their tenacity in the face of brutality.
I am the result of their dreaming, and carry their hope for a better future, interwoven inextricably with my own. Our human generations now join giraffes, manatees, and innumerable other peoples, large and small, in a shrinking, desperate world where our shared personhood is acknowledged by what seems like a tiny few. Within me are voices who recall the teachings of those who held me as a promise for many generations, those who knew that all organisms are people who once shared language, romance, and passion.
I wonder: how have we arrived at this place where we have forgotten our essential kinship, our shared personhood with all beings? After all, isn’t extinction just another word for genocide? It is hard to sit with the rage, not knowing for sure who it belongs to, or what part is mine. I have learned to treasure those rare moments when I remember there is no mine, just ours, the singing and dancing of hundreds of millions of years of lived experience, the lifetimes of innumerable elders residing now in our genes. They remind us, least we forget, that our genes, experiences, and memories are on loan from both the past and the future, and that the gift of our lives comes with sacred obligation.