“The essential things in life are seen not with the eyes, but with the heart.”—Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
When I consider the themes of my new book, The Gilded Cage coming out soon, I hear the refrain repeating during the era of reconstruction after the Civil War that black lives did not matter as much as they should have. Now today, I’ve moved to a poignant understanding that life matters beyond all the social structures of human beings. Who would have thought in the 1800’s that man could destroy the whole world, instead of only the one immediately around him? The focus on each one of our beleaguered categories of injustice brings me to the next one, like a telescope moving out instead of in to include all of what we call being alive on our planet today.
Yes, there are so many social injustices, and each single one hurts the many. Yet there’s no stopping the connections. You can’t choose what to pay attention to and what to ignore once you get started. I feel outrage when I watch trees and brush burning, and skies choked with smoke or jet contrails as the ultimate violation. Killing the planet surely kills humans, too.
I well remember the first few days of my quarantine during the pandemic, going outside of my house and realizing the air was cleaner and birds happier than I’d ever seen in my lifetime. Two weeks with no planes in the sky and greatly reduced automobile traffic had already made a huge difference in the air-quality, and it reminded me of the injustice of human-assisted climate change. And we know these things. We know how to nurture and protect life of all kinds, so why don’t we do it? And why don’t we broaden the focus to include all people, places, and things? If we matter and our lives matter, then so does everything else. There can be no other conclusion.