Memorializing the Extinct Ones

The United States celebrates her war dead in May, on Memorial Day.  However, of late I have been musing about the fact that we, as humans, do not memorialize the extinct Beings who have travelled this Earth for hundreds of years and who are no longer among us in physical reality.  How can we so easily forget them?

I wonder if any one of us could name a mere twenty-five of the hundreds of thousands of extinct mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, insects, trees, plants, and flowers who have departed this Earth in the past 100 years.  Can you?

How can we forget so easily?  Is it that we revere human life so much more than other life forms?   Surely those of us of good conscience do understand the interdependence of all life on Earth and the sacred balance that enables all lives to flourish.  But do we, really? We live in a paradox as humans who easily grieve and feel the loss of one of our vital organs, a toe, or the mobility that comes with healthy limbs or a healthy fully functioning heart or liver.   However, when we scale up our interdependence to include all Beings on this Earth we lose interest. Where is our grief over the loss of these vital Beings whose lives on which we are interdependent?

I don’t have all the answers, to be sure, but I do believe we all have to go back to Earth school.  We have to sit at the feet of our Native brothers and sisters to learn what they have known for tens of thousands of years.  Had we not destroyed the First People’s lives, taken and plundered their sacred lands, customs, beliefs and ways of living, we could now be living in harmony with all of Earth’s Beings.  We would not have to be figuring out how to reverse the tide of this fate we have created. We could and would be living the truth that the Earth and all her Beings cannot survive without the reciprocity that enables us to be in harmony with all precious lives on this Earth.   

On this Memorial Day I grieve the nearly universal loss of reverence for all life forms on this Earth from the tiniest of insects to the grandest waterfall, from the mighty grizzly bear to the earthworm, and the tallest redwood tree to the fiddlehead fern.  I pray that we all get back to the real school, Earth School…the school of the big picture…of reverence for all life forms… before it is too late.