Uphill Battles

Mountain Lions. Monarch Butterflies. Bison. Polar Bears. Allen’s Hummingbird. Whooping Cranes. The Borneo Elephant. Black Rhinoceros.  Bengal Tiger. Brown Bear. Polar Bear. Red Wolf. Cheetah. Crested Penguin. Albatross. Darwin’s Frog. Komodo Dragon. Butterfly Fish. African Wild Dog. Radiated Tortoise. Bactrian Camel. Monte Iberia Eleuth. Cross River Gorilla. Kiwi. Otter. Iguana. Jaguar. Mandril. Yak.

What do all these species have in common?

Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

If you said, they’re all endangered, you are correct! Some of them critically so. Critical sounds bad, but it’s better than the Wooly Mammoth or the Dodo, which are extinct.

Is this the natural order of things, (a.k.a. natural selection) this shaking out of what species endure or die off, or uh, you know, is this situation aided and abetted by another species? A hostile one?

Bueller? Anyone? If you said the human species, you are again correct. And if you pointed the finger at Homo sapiens, then you must believe in science, because the extinction or declining populations of those noted above and many, many more species are studied and monitored  scientifically. Facts. Empirical observation. Testing of hypothesis. Rigirously so.  Organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, Audubon, and National Wildlife Federation and National Reources Defense Council are documenting the cause/effects of man-made climate change, poaching, and habitat destruction by commercial encroachment, all of which are not the natural order. 

These science-oriented members of humankind are NOT the hostiles. They have a truth-seeking agenda and a magnanimously oriented intelligence that their fellow,  adversarial, Homo sapiens apparently do not share. Their studies and data and conclusions, point fingers at exactly those who clearly create the hostilities to the environment, creating man-made threats to all earth-dwelling species, and our planet itself, and therefore require consciousness-raising battles that are always an uphill effort 

There is some good news, at least, from these eco and wildlife hill climbers, as in the creation of over a million acres of conflict free habitat via the Adopt a Wildlife Acre program. However, the information I receive (having donated a modest sum to a few of these organizations, and thus getting their newsletters/updates) related to species decline and environmental causes all use the same phrase to describe the dynamic of fighting the (unnatural) forces at play here: an uphill battle.

Battle. Right. Against the deniers. Against the willfully ignorant. You know, from the White House to–in the most cynical of examples–the anti-environment Environmental Protection Agency. All part of what I call the new abnormal normal. Hey, shrinking polar ice caps, rising sea levels, greenhouse effect global warming, groping women’s private parts, foreign interference in the 2016 election are simply labeled as “fake news”.  For those of us who have rational minds, now woeful and weary of trying to understand how things have gotten this bad, we wonder when deliverance will come. Or IF it will come before it’s too late? Sure there have been a series of disappointing administrations the last few election cycles as far as their acting to benefit the general welfare of We, the People. But this?! This?! W.T.F?

We now live in the era of multi-national interests, with international treaties, trade policies, globalization. But it is a struggle to feel there is at least a presumed default level of common wisdom at work to guide our global common interests. All for one, one for all, right?….anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

At least in theory, that is.

Remember, as children, we were exposed to the fairy tale world? We were told stories. Stories that embraced seeming unreal beauty, good luck, happiness, even perfection. Well, that’s for the teeny little ones to ingest and believe in, still. For awhile. You know, about the time we stopped believing in the Tooth Fairy and the fat man in the red suit. Apparently, it would seem, not all little children were read fairy tales that stuck with them, providing a sense that while the years go by and by and life throws curve balls, bean balls, trials and travail at us, there is great value in knowing that individually and collectively such difficult episodes of life can be overcome. You know, the balm of the happy ending.  It might be an uphill battle but nonetheless that hill can and oh, yes, will be conquered and at its top there can be some approximation of unreal beauty, perfection, even happiness.

Then again, as children we encountered the antithesis of the fairy tale: Monster tales! Tension and relief. Tension and relief. Be careful. They’re out there.

So, I’m thinking the current ethos, far and wide, is skewed far more toward a Monster scenario than any hint of a fairy tale. Those newsletters I get from those battling against the dark forces? It seems to be one step forward, at least one, if not two steps back. Hey, let’s open up some of the protected natural wonders to fracking. Let’s gut the Clean Air and Water Act. How about we drill for oil in ANWR?

Recall the now extinct Wooly Mammoth. It would be larger than the Indian or African Forest Elephant (both endangered species) if it were still around. It would be monstrously large. But that wouldn’t make it a monster.

But they are out there…banal, cold-hearted killers. Monsters. 

Monsters under our beds. Monsters in our heads. Monsters from the Id. Monsters full of dread. No, they don’t look like Frankenstein’s monster, or the acid-blooded Aliens, or the romping, stomping, fire-breathing Godzilla. Those are “make believe” monsters. I’m talking about the real ones: The nuclear bomb is a monster. Man made, sitting dormant but waiting to be unleashed on humankind. The science-deniers. The willfully ignorant. The indifferent. The alien-ated. They’re all monsters writ large or small in the many “uphill battles” for our environment, for creatures large and small, for the “common good”.  Size aside, they are all man-made monsters emerged from the minds of once little children, who quite possibly have never been happy or good. But the biggest of them, those with official power? Watch out. They’re looming large.

These are the “fake” grown-ups. They are the perpetual playground bullies, not yet having been put in their place.  They, rather, have been put IN PLACE. Unwittingly? Stupidly? Monstrously. They’re out there all right. And in plain sight. I’d like to think that maybe in another generation or two, if our environment can hang tough with occasional victories of good people fighting those uphill battles, plus those now slowly seeing the need to act, a bit of a fairy-tale reality might come about. Maybe not pixie dust stuff, or Bambi or Tinkerbell; you know, when the Cookie Monster is as bad as it gets, and the flesh and blood ones are on the endangered species list, and with some of that fairy-tale luck will eventually become extinct. 


About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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1 Response to Uphill Battles

  1. Kudos to you for this battle cry against the science denying monsters who threaten the future of all inhabitants of this planet, including their own descendants, in the name of greed.


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