Money or education, which is the best means to stopping the annihilation of wolves in the West and elsewhere? This question has sparked an interesting discussion following one of my blog posts. Of course, both finances and education are powerful entities in effecting change, yet there is more to human beings than thoughts and pocket books.
Deeply hidden as it may be, people are also comprised of souls and hearts. The manifestation of these aspects of person-hood is primarily determined by conditioning and modeling from family and community. We sort through the details of this throughout our lives, deciding what to keep and what to throw away. But the truth remains, much of who we are as human being is created by that which surrounds us. It takes a tremendous effort to rebuke ones conditioning, to throw away the bad and keep the good, and to allow for a true evolution of the soul.
But personal growth can happen, if one is willing. When I read of the Idaho wolf slaughter, or the upcoming ones in the Midwest, I envision an auditorium packed full of trappers, hunters, some ranchers (the Idaho governor is there as well), all undergoing intense therapy in order to come to terms with their irrational fear and loathing of wolves and other predators. These folks may need to be sedated (tranquilizer darts to the hips provide a relatively safe and effective short term effect) to end up there, but once the session is complete the subjects emerge into the evening light as more evolved beings, in touch with their deepest hurts and purged of the impetus to destroy other life in order to feel worthy.
This vision is not only my own. I came across the website for Society and Animals Forum, an organization based in Maryland whose objective “…is to reduce violence against human and non-human animals.” Jane Goodall is on their Advisory Board. Society and Animals Forum boasts the first “psychological treatment approach specifically for the treatment of animal abusers.” Much of their work is in exposing the link between animal abuse and violence inflicted on humans, as was the case with the Columbine School shootings, as well as other similar tragedies. They produced a video called “Beyond Violence” and their staff offers training sessions and presentations nationwide to raise awareness and instruct others in their innovative methods.
Am I way off here, or are the psychological and spiritual elements essential in helping us understand, and hopefully influence, those who see the destruction of wolves as a legitimate activity, one to pass onto their offspring and in doing so, perpetuate the slaughter? Reading this, I feel a need to stand back from my own opinions and consider if the hunting and trapping of wolves really is inherently cruel, or is it simply a sport we should learn to live with, tolerate as a form of recreation, even if we don’t agree? But my thoughts travel to the photo of Josh Bransford, face beaming as he crouches in front of the gut-shot wolf he has trapped. There is clearly an emotional disconnect here, the smile and the blood, the dying wolf with head hung low and the man responsible posing for the camera. If this is not cruelty then the word needs to be rewritten, and the new meaning will condone a blatant ignorance of all types of feeling, both physical and emotional.
We need to support wolves in a myriad of ways, with education and money, but also with a look to the internal workings of those who see no problem with the destruction of certain life forms. Perhaps we need a Special Forces army in the wolf wars, one trained by wise therapists and gentle gurus who arm their students with understanding, patience and wise words, as well as a few tranquilizer guns to begin the process.