Life Matters

Life Matters

“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.

I sense that musicians like my protagonist Emily de Koningh, have an expanded existence including the universe and everything in it, and possibly pay more attention to the bigger world even as they block everything out to learn their skill. Being ahead of her time for women of her era, my Emily lives a big life without exactly planning to.

We all need to live big lives that include all other lives. We need to wrap ourselves in the existence of the planet and the star dust that made it and all of us. My sense of my protagonist’s dilemma was that she started to see the enormity of the problem in discrimination faster than she knew what to do about it, thanks to the every-widening lens of motherhood. There can’t be lines between any of the caring

2 Responses to Life Matters

  1. Maybe that’s the answer, to wrap all injustices into one and recognize that only together can this precious life on this singular planet progress if it all matters. Injustice to each other and to the planet are tied together. I doubt addressing them singularly will work because then we are back to competition and them versus us. The planet is us and so are all the lives on the planet. We do harm to one we break the precious ecosystem that is mutually dependent.

    In my work I came to realize that so many of the environmental issues directly effected specific groups of people and too often the most marginalized by society. In working with a reconciliation project I was made starkly aware that environmental issues would stall unless we addressed the lives of people directly effected.

    The industrial revolution was already showing signs of degradation of the planet in Emily and Corey’s times and even as far back as the first peoples on this continent. You are right, that the problems have multiplied exponentially and its no longer enough to do our individual part, but make our governments and corporate citizens do what is necessary in a holistic manner. Thanks for reminding us.


    • You’re one of the lucky ones who’s seen the issue from both sides at once. That’s the best way to understand the solutions. It reminds me of my grandmother’s adage about taking care of the pennies so the dollars would take care of themselves. But obviously if there are no dollars, then there aren’t any pennies, either. The telescope can be flipped both ways. Many thanks for your always wise and complete comments, Paul. They make a blog worth contributing to!!

We welcome you to the conversation! Please share your thoughts.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.