Peace on Earth: An Oxymoronic Phrase or a Possibility?
By Bernard Levy
After a morning of writing, I treated myself to one-half ounce of Scotch and accompanied my 24/7 writing companion Cheddar, the golden retriever, to a favorite wooded glen for some cogitation – me; and serious sniffing and calling-card deposits - Cheddar.
Towering firs and fragile ferns led us to a clearing I had never seen before, although I thought I knew every cranny of this special place. Cheddar stayed close. And, there they were, a semi-circle of a most varied array of creatures. We had apparently stumbled upon a forest meeting of squirrel, rabbit, cougar, eagle, fox, a doe and two young humans, sparsely-dressed, in attendance. Playful pursuit was not on Cheddar’s agenda, and he stopped in front of me.
The fox guided us to the group and said, “Good job, Cheddar. We knew we could count on you.” The fox turned to me, “Okay, Mr. Writer. We don’t understand why this earth is such a mess. We’re sick with worry and angry about how the humans have fouled the earth, water and air and wage war over silly differences. We’re trying to figure it out. Any ideas?”
I was amazed; talking animals? “Hold it. Why me? And why the meeting? Who are these people? How come you can talk my language?”
The fox turned to Cheddar, “Didn’t you tell him?”
Cheddar, to my amazement, answered, “Are you serious? Did you think I could talk to him in his own language, let alone tell him about this meeting?”
The fox nodded and asked the squirrel to respond. “Cheddar, you were wise not to tell him,” chattered the Squirrel from a branch. And then turning to me, he continued, “There are meetings like this taking place all over the planet. We animals have had enough. We know we only use this place; we don’t own it. Humans think they own everything, and there’s no limit to how much they destroy, themselves included. The earth will warm up by itself. It doesn’t need humans to quicken this warming by pollution and…”
Rabbit couldn’t keep quiet any longer, “Yeah. We’re concerned about the future for our children, too. Ever think about that? You’ve been treating yourselves hurtfully since time began. You start wars over belief differences. What difference does it make who believes what. Let others be themselves. This religion-thing you’ve got going has not done its job. As we understand, every religion says, ‘Ours is the true religion,’ and wars are fought to prove it. What have you proved? That you can kill faster and more with your weapons?”
The eagle turned to the others, “What’s the use? Do you think Mr. Writer gets it? Mr. Writer, these humans don’t have religion yet; they’re pure in thought, the way it was in the original garden. By the way, there are rowdy animals, too, like that original snake.”
Cougar finally had his chance. “We have our religion. We thank all the powers that be for the earth, air, water and food. Some of us kill, but only for food. But most importantly, our habitats are being destroyed. It’s hard to find a place to raise my family and when I look, humans try to kill me because they call me a threat. We were here before the machines with teeth and smoke.”
All eyes turn to the doe. She brushed against a fern to wipe away tears. “Your human world is killing us. Your ways are not always progress; they are often nonsense. Maybe we don’t have medicines and those little talking machines and things that speed by us on paved trails, but we have our dignity and our willingness to believe in this world. Why we lost control of our destiny is beyond us, but if it’s in the name of your many gods, we don’t want any part of it.”
The two humans didn’t speak, but nodded from time to time. They bowed to the others and took their leave, hand-in-hand…and disappeared. As I turned back to the animals, they had vanished, along with the clearing. Cheddar looked at me, and I thought I saw tears rolling down his cheeks. Then he assumed his usual position of running 20 - 30 feet ahead.
Walking home, I wondered if my adventure was possibly Scotch-induced. And then I saw the eagle feather stuck in Cheddar’s collar.
I write this account hopeful that, in some measure, it will have an impact on those who can make a difference. If critters around the world meet in a similar fashion, perhaps other writers will take up their keyboards, and leaders will hear and accept the message, use sparingly their implements of war and destruction and place meaningful limits on pollution. Give the animals and children of the world the chance to continue the original God-goal of a fruitful and honest earth for all its inhabitants.
The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man’s heart away from nature
becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living,
things soon led to lack of respect for humans too.
Chief Luther Standing Bear