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The gift that keeps on giving

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
December 16, 2004


"We must go out and re-ally ourselves to Nature everyday. We must take root, send out some little fibre at least, even every winter day." — Henry David Thoreau

Ours is a consumptive society. We need, we want, we take, we consume as a national mandate. We design ritual around needing, wanting, and taking. Christmas is such a ritual, as are birthdays, anniversaries and Valentines Day. Mothers Day and Fathers Day are gift-giving rituals as well. In America conspicuous consumption is how we show we care.

I know it is impossible to alter the cultural conditioning that dictates Homo sapiens americanus must consume at ever growing levels in order to be successful. Rant as I will, there is little to slow the momentum of a culture determined to test every known biological limit, whatever the cost. All spin aside, to give is to take; the take being that of finite natural resources being squandered for purposes of short-term gratification.

This is the season of stuff. The time of shortened days spent in search of stuff to give to people who in turn are going to give you stuff. At least that is the game plan. To justify the giving of more stuff Santa Claus and an army of altruistic elves were employed to run the mythical toy factory needed too make all the stuff, supposedly manufactured in one of the most inhospitable ecosystems on the planet. Freakish flying reindeer were added to explain prompt global delivery of all the stuff manufactured.

Talk about outsourcing reality.

I wish to suggest instead a new ritual of giving, to hence be known as the Giving the Gift of Nature ritual. Here the stuff given is not made or manufactured, it is conserved, preserved, protected, and restored. In fact it is not even stuff, and it is not really given. In the Giving the Gift of Nature ritual, tangible living breathing ecosystems are allowed to continued functioning, rich in healthy biodiversity, and free of market based exploitation.

As I write this snow is falling on Yellowstone. For those readers who are geographically challenged, Yellowstone National Park is located in the northwest corner of Wyoming, bordering the states of Montana and Idaho. It is here the remnants of once massive herds of buffalo struggle to survive, trapped between conservation efforts, winter weather, and ranching interests intent on killing any animal leaving the National Park in search of winter-feed.

Sadly these animals, have no protection outside of Yellowstone, other than well-meaning, dedicated activists who must battle the federal government and entrenched ranchers who are willing to damn the American Buffalo (Bison bison) to extinction, in favor of the genetically engineered, mass produced, and mass consumed, freaks of nature known as domestic cattle.

Nature is dying, being killed, biocide really. The winter slaughter of bison is murder of innocent animals, doing what they do, what all of us do, striving to survive in the face mounting ecological pressures, out of premeditated self-interest. For centuries, snow has forced the bison of the Yellowstone region to migrate in search of food. Two hundred years ago buffalo were free to graze at will, now they are trapped on a sinking ark because ranchers don't want to share the grass.

Beef kills.

The Buffalo Field Campaign is an organization with a mission of stopping the slaughter of Yellowstone's wild buffalo herd, protecting the natural habitat of wild free-roaming buffalo and native wildlife, and to work with people of all Nations to honor the sacredness of the wild buffalo. The Buffalo Field Campaign is a perfect way to give the gift of nature. Not only are there year-round volunteer opportunities, donations are proudly accepted and they also have a feed a volunteer adoption program. Giving is as easy as going online at www.buffalofieldcampaign.org.

Saving Buffalo from extinction not your cup of tea? There are also opportunities to save the Manatees, whales, orangutans, gorillas, condors, otters, and polar bears from the grip of man induced extinction. If a gift must be given, if money has to be spent to show affection or respect, why not give the gift of nature? Local conservation groups such as the Escondido Creek Conservancy, Project Wildlife, and Friends of the Seals would love to provide positive karma by accepting donations in the name of friends and love ones on behalf of wildlife.

By giving the gift of nature not only are you doing right by your children, you will also be giving your children's grandchildren something to smile about.

Nature heals.

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