So, this is my first attempt at a blog post and I have a strong urge to go directly to the nub of things.
What is my purpose for being here?
Could it be that I simply enjoy spending time in the bush, tracking elephants on foot (as we did this morning) or perhaps I am trying to escape what I thought of as a mind numbingly monotonous existence in the corporate world, existing only to keep the wheels of commerce grinding on. Or, do I see myself as a man, a human, a member of the animal kingdom, who has attempted to take a step back, assess the world around him and in turn been both shocked and agonized by what we as the dominant species on our planet are doing to it.
If I am being truthfully honest with myself (and whoever is reading this post) I am not 100%, definitively sure. What I am quite sure about is that in the final answer, there lies a combination of all the above. The details, well, the details are still busy working themselves out and will make themselves clear enough in due course. For now I am simply immersing myself in what I consider to be the true African experience and all it has to offer. The good and the bad, sad and joyous, beauty and brutality, the sublime and the terrifying. All of it!
As a youngster I had an inkling that Africa was a continent of extreme contrasts, being bountiful on the one hand but lose respect for it or take it for granted for a nanosecond and it will eviscerate you. As I learn more about the place where it all started, where ~approximately 4 million years ago the forerunners to our hominid species took their first uncertain steps onto the African savanna, I can’t help but feel both awestruck and insignificant in the grandness of the story which is being unfolded before me. If there is a single occasion that truly warrants the use of the word ‘awesome’, it is to describe Africa. There is nothing quite like this continent and its natural wealth in terms of unique biospheres, incredible wildlife and and the possibility of being witness to some of the most primal of experiences.
The more I see, learn and experience, the stronger my belief and desire to be part of the effort to conserve what is left of humankind’s natural heritage. Habitat destruction, poaching, climate change, pollution and acidification of rivers and oceans carry our species’ grubby fingerprints all over them. And let’s not even get started with the booming global human population hoovering up natural resources at a rate impossible to sustain.
Where does this end? How far are do we as thinking, reasoning members of the animal kingdom let this go? Do we as the ‘intelligent’ species, (Homo sapien does mean ‘Wise Man’ after all – not a title we seem to be living up to) have the rational capacity, introspective understanding and collective will power to do something about the destruction of our environment and ultimately our home? As things stand, I highly doubt it.
As long as we continue to pass through this life, generation after generation buying into the ideological bull-shit fed to us by pandering politicians, fundamentalist preachers, irrelevant celebrities and bought and paid for ‘experts’ we will keep grinding this beautiful planet into the dust. Unfettered greed, limited rational inquiry, the corruption of the human spirit and our disconnect from what it means to be part of something unimaginably vast and complex will be the undoing of us all. Tragically, we may well end up taking virtually every other living species with us into our self made oblivion.
However; we must never give up! We must never stop trying to fight for and defend the environment we are so dependent on irrespective of where the threat might come from. Even the smallest efforts can contribute to success and in my opinion, the first step along that path to eventual success is the eradication of apathy.
We as a species need to begin caring again. We really have no other viable choice.
Put down that damn smart phone, get off of Twitter, Faceplant (you know what I mean) and other social media black-holes which tend to suck our very souls dry, and start paying attention to what is happing beyond our front doors. Nurture that unique human capability, the ability to empathize. It is empathy and not competition or ‘survival of the fittest’ or the need to dominate that will bring out the very best in us as a species.
We have work to do people, and time is running out.
“Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.” – Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot