Depending on who you listen to, the prospects of climate change can be quite dire. Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner. Sea levels are rising and fresh water availability is decreasing in regions around the globe.
With an unprecedented human influence, our planet has altered dramatically. Rivers are dying, magnificent life-sustaining forests are being ravaged, clean air is compromised, more and more animals are killed and brutalised and more plant and animal species are being pushed to the brink. Open any newspaper and a litany of unbelievable crimes spill out; self-indulgence runs rampant and politics seem even crazier.
But I still have hope, and I’ll tell you just some of the reasons why.
Many people barely have the time of day for our ageing population, yet on the 5th of June 2014, a packed Melbourne Town Hall sat in absolute silence as a diminutive grey haired 80 year old woman held centre stage and told of her life’s story.
Jane Goodall told her enthralled audience of a life well lived and a life that continued to have hope, despite all of the heartache and environmental destruction she had witnessed the world over. I was won over by her soft voice and beautiful heart and, moreover, her dogged determination to never give up hope that humankind can and will do better.
On Tuesday the 17th of June 2014, I gave a presentation to a group of 279 year nine students. The daunting task of not only addressing these pubescent young men and women but maintaining their interest sparked both dread and challenge within me.
Yet by the end of my allotted 55 minutes I had seen more sparks of hope, more thoughtful gazes and more engaged listeners who hung on my every word than I had seen in some time. These decision makers of tomorrow were keen to be armed with knowledge and kindness to shape a just and fair world for all.
On Monday the 23rd of June, a tiny little waif of a goat I named Frostie the Snow Goat passed from this world.
That he was even known was, like so many others animals who have found refuge at Edgar’s Mission, through an act of human kindness. Seeing a creature before them in trouble, a kind soul stepped in to try and right a wrong.
That Frostie was a sickly little goat was something we knew from day one. He was terribly weak and unable to stand, severely dehydrated, riddled with lice and suffering joint naval ill.
Frostie’s lot was grim, yet despite the terrible odds he faced, the little champ was the happiest of fellows and his zest for life was to prove infectious to all he met.
That he got to live life to the full and that I was the human he loved most is something I will treasure every day. But it is what he achieved in his very short dance on this earth that gives me reason for hope.
The world too, fell head over hairy white hooves in love with little Frostie. His story was picked up by new services across the globe; they rejoiced in his triumph and they too mourned his passing.
The Huffington Post, an online news repository with over 2 million followers and millions more readers around the world covered his passing with a touching tribute. The American 24 hour news service Cable News Network, CNN, delivered into approximately 98,496,000 American households, covered the story as well as countless news agencies (television, radio, print and internet) internationally and nationally.
I was deeply troubled that in Frostie’s passing I would be judged harshly for not being able to save his life, despite the terrible hand he had been dealt (although the subsequent autopsy would prove he was never long for this world). Yet what came next I was totally unprepared for.
People who had never even met Frostie openly wept, they grieved and the empathised and they were moved. Many vowed never again to eat another animal for Frostie showed them what truly endearing and emotional creatures farm animals really are.
For those of us who care deeply about the world around us, about the people who live on it and the animals who share this earthly coil with us, sometimes it does seem like we are banging our heads against a brick wall. But there is an old saying that if enough people hit their head against a brick wall, it will eventually come tumbling down.
Every day there is a mystical experience of nature just waiting for us to catch its gaze, a world of wonder and sheer beauty and a world where kindness is just a heartbeat from being brought to life.
Jane Goodall once said this, ”If only we can overcome cruelty, to human and animal, with love and compassion we shall stand at the threshold of a new era in human moral and spiritual evolution – and realize, at last, our most unique quality: humanity.”
I have hope we can achieve this. I also have a very hard hat…