I have a toddler. When I look at him, and peer into his innocent brown eyes I see good, I see happy, I see naivete, and I see hope; hope that the ills and evils of our world will somehow be fixed.
Conversely, when I open up a newspaper, turn on my twitter feed, turn on the news, or listen to the radio, I see, read, or hear a completely different story.
I see anger.
I see hate.
I see evil and terror.
I see hostility.
I see greed.
I see torture. Torture of other humans and torture of sentient animals.
And I don't know how to resolve these two starkly contrasting views of the world. The one view that is hopeful, and the one view that is hopeless. And this terrifies me.
As a species we seem to be very skilled at killing and/or decimating - populations. We kill animals, we kill each other, and for all intents and purposes we kill our planet.
Every day I read articles about the decimation of species, from elephants, to rhinoceroses, to whales, to certain species of dolphins and porpoises. Humans are destructive.
Our ways of fishing with trawling nets or gill nets kill hundreds of thousands of animals in by-catch. Some populations purposefully slaughter dolphins or other whales for sport. Other groups murder 5-ton elephants for a few pounds of ivory and greed.
Finally, certain groups murder other humans over resources, over religion, over culture or other life choices. When will it end? When will it stop? When will we learn to live peacefully on our planet without doing unnecessary harm to animals and to each other?
Given that my background is in public health, I try to frame this problem in the "public health" perspective, to find an upstream approach to solving some of these problems, to have the most impact efficiently and effectively.
However, I don't know what the solution for hate is. I don't know an upstream approach to stop hate. I'm not sure I know of any approach to stop hate!
And, this is what terrifies me.
I don't want to raise my child in a world where I have to look over my shoulder. I don't want to raise my child in a world where I'm afraid to take him certain places, because I never quite know who or what is lurking around the corner.
I want to raise my child in a world that still values life, not a world that values riches and "sameness." I want to raise my child in a world that respects animals, and doesn't treat them as "resources" for the killing. I want to raise my child in a world where we don't need phrases such as: "Worth More Alive" (#worthmorealive).
In prehistoric times, our ancestors primarily killed for sustenance; killing only what was needed to survive. They were hunters and gatherers. Now we kill for "a treasure," or for a "euphoria." We kill rare things because we can, because they bring in a lot of money; not out of need.
We kill each other over differences of opinion, or differences in religion. But, why? What is so wrong with being "different?" Do we really know what we are "fighting" or killing over?
And, to add insult to injury, the general level of discourse around these problems is negative or discordance, or devolves into anger or the blame game, not solutions.
I by no means am perfect. But, I do know that we need to be more tolerant, more understanding, and less filled with hate.
This is our home, we all need to share it, all 7.4+ billion of us humans plus the billions of animals and plants on the planet. Neither Earth nor animals not need us to survive, but we sure do need them. We do not own Earth. We do not own the animals. We are merely one species among millions that are passing through time on this planet.
For the sake of our children and our children's children, we need to find a way to live in harmony with each other, and with the other beings on the planet, before we destroy it or each other.
Without a doubt, I would really love to say I still have hope, and when I look at my son, I do, I get that warm and fuzzy feeling that everything will still be OK. But, when I turn on the news, it sure does make me question.