The SNJ’s new columnist Karen Eberhardt-Shelton was born in California but grew up in England.
She now lives in Stroud and is currently working on an education project called Learn, Think, Act and is hoping to develop an eco-community land trust.
Her thought-provoking columns will focus on how we all have to take responsibility for our actions and for our planet.
I RECENTLY had a lengthy conversation with my three cats a little after 7am on a cool, wet, windless morning.
Dark clouds hovered, but tiny pockets of sun parked themselves temporarily on fields and trees.
Small clouds in the east glowed with the fresh-cheeked pink of sunrise.
It was and is and shall be so beautiful.
The three cats and I went out on the back terrace and stood together watching the pastoral eloquence around us breathing and minutely shifting.
Two magpies cried repeatedly within the foliage of a little woodland pocket nearby. Pigeons babbled. Crows squabbled. Doves fluttered through the atmosphere.
Pheasants and badgers lurked beyond.
It was all kindly, peaceful and soothing, as though we were in the bosom of a large, good-natured family.
The cats took turns gazing up at me: “Is it nearly time for breakfast?”
I breathed the fresh air, waved to a passing blackbird, and probably because of the tranquil softness of it all, couldn’t help but reflect on the contrasting side where pheasant-shooting and stag-hunting are treasured pastimes, and the gun-toters seem to have a lust for making holes in bodies and releasing blood.
A spurt of anger flared in my brain and I thought: how cruel to murder animals for fun, how wrong to disturb the trust, the tranquillity, the intermingling.
We’re here in a togetherness; why blow it apart?
Why sow seeds of mistrust, why batter the common ground we all use to play out our roles, our comings and goings?
If only we could subdue our superiority complexes and let what is just be what it is.
Not tamper, not confuse, nor impose boundaries and conditions.
We’re part of something unbelievably wonderful and rare, yet the slayers of other creatures of this world don’t fathom that; they live like things apart, aliens with not enough heart to include these myriad perfectly lovely others as brethren, co-passengers, and in their own way, equals.
As with most farmers and land managers, it’s plough, sever, mate, cull, tamper, sow, spray, kill.
The old practices hiding behind out-of-touch aged parents, a work system involving compliant employees, villagers who don’t want to rock a boat because they have only an indigenous eye — see only what they’re familiar with.
So the bees disappear, moths begin to fade, skylarks rarely embellish the air with song.
I cut moorings of indifference long ago and drifted away, never to lose a deep sense of connection with animals and the natural world.
Animals, including bugs, of every description, wherever they are, no matter what language we speak, are always genuine, authentic, obedient to their instincts.
Unless they have had the bad fortune to be enslaved by us and our attitudes about how they should behave and also satisfy our insistence to use and abuse them according to our wants and attitudes of supremacy.
I have faith in and respect for all living things — except, for the most part, humans.