It ain’t us.

It’s been said that fisherman and whalers of the past have caused population downturns in a variety of animals by being ‘overkill’.  Certain species, as a result, are now protected and can’t be overfished or killed in great numbers.  Some of them can’t be killed at all.  And yet, many of those populations are not recovering.

The reasons are as clear as coral.  The world no longer uses coral as a building material, no longer harvests it from the sea.  But a variety of causes – unseasonable temperatures, water pollution, climate change – are combining to kill coral.  Other ocean wildlife is being harmed in much the same way.

Take the growing shortage of blue crabs in Chesapeake Bay.  Some say that over harvesting oysters in the area lead to an oyster shortage, which in turn led to over harvesting of the crabs which can only be combated with harvesting limits and natural re-population.  Others say the recent extensive development along the coast has destroyed and poisoned the crab’s natural habitat, and that harvesting controls alone are not sufficient to bring the population back.

While it is telling that the original oyster population never recovered despite such controls, fisherman denying responsibility for the shortages will not solve anything.  Those who rely on the crabs for their way of life are the ones with the ultimate responsibility to preserve them.  As the water in certain areas was poisoned by runoff from development, why wasn’t anything done?  Why weren’t letters written, city councils addressed, government bodies lobbied, all in an attempt to protect the bay from destructive development?  Why isn’t anything being done now?

Of course, I’m not doing anything either.  I’m certainly not championing the cause of further protection.  But then, it’s not my livelihood.  It’s not the way I want to live.  Without blue crab, I’ll survive just fine.

The New Pilgrim and Pope BXVI

I have my own struggles with religion and faith and what exactly it all means.  I think that’s healthy.  I think not questioning your beliefs is what leads to hidebound thinking and intolerance.  One of the things I constantly question is the way faith is portrayed in a ‘modern’ light.  I feel uncomfortable with the rock-band services held in church basements where everyone knows the words to modern Christian ballads.

A part of this discomfort comes from my first experience with such a service.  One of my high school friends, Cortney, took me to her church one Wednesday night.  Everyone was really excited and happy to see each other, and the pastor seemed nice.  He gave a good lesson about not becoming to attached to possessions, which I firmly agree with.  Then they had the planned stuff-bashing.  Everyone was supposed to bring something to ‘give up’, and they brought it forward to destroy it with hammers, scissors, and knives.  The idea was that all that bashing would really help you let go of some of your stuff.  It got really emotional and people cried about being to attached to things.  Even guys cried.  Cortney confessed to me later that she’d brought a couple of CDs she didn’t really like.

I just remember being annoyed and offended by the whole thing.  The crying was ridiculous.  Most people were only pretending to ‘get the point’ and were just having a little destructive fun.  And even if everyone was really as emotionally involved as they seemed, why were we wasting all these goods by destroying them?  Shouldn’t we be donating this stuff to the poor, or getting some use out of it?  I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t preach for us to burn all our worldly goods in a fit of emotional angst.

The recent Roman Catholic ‘World Youth Day’ in Sydney strikes me as in the same vein.  Yes, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating your faith, and yes, it’s great that as Christians people are embracing new technology as well as sharing their faith.  Still, somehow, a text from the pope reading “The Holy Spirit gave the Apostles and gives u the power boldly 2 proclaim that Christ is risen! – BXVI” doesn’t seem all that inspiring.  And the excitement and actions of such a large gathering trouble me.  I worry about mob mentality, in particular in a spiritual context.  I worry that expanding technology detracts from the search for inner truth and self-awareness, rather than adding to it.

Ultimately, I have no wish to disparage anyone else’s attempt to come to an understanding of the world.  Still, I wonder how many of us really examine our own attempts, really evaluate them on a daily basis.  I cannot judge – I will leave that to someone else.  Still, I worry about it.