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Saturday, 9 December 2017

What Life Matters?

This will probably be a somewhat niche view, but hey! Who am I to care.

Over the past years, we've started moving towards a view where all human lives matter, at a fairly similar level. Most people, if pressed, will probably say that their family matters a bit more, or perhaps that people that can do more should matter more; but, generally speaking, we've moved away from the views that say that particular groups of people don't matter, or that they matter significantly less. At least in thought, if still working on it in practice; and with a fair bit of contention over when an embryo becomes a human, for example. That is not my topic for this post.

Rather, I want to start looking rather wider. To other sorts of life. And ask the question - where do they sit? How much do they matter? When it comes to animals, to plants, to bacteria, single-celled organisms; how much do they, or should they, matter, and what should that look like in our world?

For myself, I have a rather simple, if somewhat reductionist, view: all life matters. (Please do not confuse this with the terrible people who go around saying something very similar in response to #BlackLivesMatter. This is not that at all.)

Just this afternoon, as I was driving along a road where there's a lot of new development happening, I saw a big "Welcome!" sign advertising one of these new suburbs/areas. It was surrounded by trees that had just been cut down. It cut me to the core, and I had to remember that I was still driving and not go into the kerb. Somebody else probably looks at that and goes, "Finally, the land is cleared and I can do something with it!" I look that and go - you have just taken dozens, maybe hundreds, of lives. And it feels to me like an absolute travesty.

I look forward to a time when we can synthesise things like meat, wood, leather, cheaply - so we have no need, nor desire, to end lives. I hope and pray that I will see that day come around in my lifetime. But I fear that it is still very far away. And it makes me sad.

How many lives will it be too late for? How many species will be lost forever? How much of the planet will be surviving by then? To give you an idea, by the way; about 927 trees are cut down every second. And about 1775 animals killed. And dozens, maybe hundreds, of species going extinct each day.

How long?

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