THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING … By Maribeth Shanley

It is with a heavy heart that I write this.

Today, I began watching a film that follows the life of one of my heroes, Nelson Mandela.  The film, “Mandela … The Long Walk to Freedom,” lit up the fire that’s been burning in my belly.  The same type of fire I felt back in the year 1970 when I moved to the Washington, D.C. area and became actively involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement; a just movement that encompassed so many other themes including justice and civil rights for ALL.

Today, those civil rights are still being abused for so many humans.  Although my heart feels the weight of the violations against my fellow humans, that isn’t the dominant theme of my thoughts today.

Instead, today my heart and soul feel heavy for those fellow creatures who have no voice to speak of their pain.  …Those who have no voice to express their concerns for their very existence.  …Those whose civil rights are being violated every day of their lives.

I speak today for the animals of our world who bear the label, ‘game animals.’

elephant mother

As I search the Internet for the definition of ‘game animals,’ I find myself directed to many frightful websites.  Yet, these sites are not dreadful for me.  They are abysmal for those animals who fall into the category of ‘game animals.’  Many of them live on the great continent of Africa.  All of them are defenseless!

Cecil

Watching the film, The Long Walk to Freedom, made me think of some of the slogans we chanted in the 1970’s.  The slogan, THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING, coined in Chicago outside the 1968 Democratic Party’s National Convention is emblazoned in my mind, heart and soul.

Cecil the Lion

The killing of the beloved and protected ‘Cecil the Lion,’ has set off a firestorm.  Animal activists from around the globe have gathered on such sites as Facebook’s, ‘Shame Lion Killer Dr. Walter Palmer and River Bluff Dental,’ among so many more.   I have been working with a bright young man from Belgium who is creating a beautiful website called Cecil Army which will be up shortly.  In addition, I have been flattered and honored to have been asked to help write letters, blogs and speeches for several activists and groups.  It’s a joy working with these passionate people who have the capacity to think beyond their own selves and lives.

Today, in response to one of my activist friend’s post, I wrote the following.

WHAT WILL WE DO when these beautiful animals are all gone?

WHAT WILL WE DO when all the animals that are now hunted and poached are all gone?

WHERE WILL THE GOVERNMENTS OF AFRICA be when all their animals, their precious resource is ALL GONE?

The hunters and poachers will look for other creatures to hunt and poach.  The Governments of the great continent of Africa will be forced to realize their shortsightedness that they were willing to sell their wildlife for $$$ to the highest bidder.  They sold their most precious resource to those bidders who kept most of the wealth for themselves, giving these same governments a pittance (less than 1% of the total sale of one animal) for all the animals that were supposed to be held sacred and guarded by each of these governments.

IT WILL BE TOO LATE when these governments finally realize they could have utilized their precious resource for something far more prosperous and far more beneficial to all:  the animals, the country’s economy and the country’s human inhabitants.

Their most precious resource is something the world loves to visit, loves to study, loves to tell their children where the animal in the story lives.  These same animals have the ability to contribute far more significantly to the wealth of these countries and its people while they are still alive and not dead and hanging on someone’s wall or when pieces of ivory are part of a necklace worn around someone’s neck.  Instead, these same animals currently contribute ONLY to other countries like China seeking parts from the animals; or other humans who only visit these countries with intentions of destroying these creatures.

These same, wonderful beings have more to contribute to the African countrymen who are economically forced to hunt them down for their ivory, meat, skin, antlers, etc.  If only the governments of Africa were thoughtful by showing these same countrymen the opportunity to earn a living by participating in an industry that showcases these beautiful animals; one in which these same desperate countrymen are able to earn a living protecting these same precious creatures.

As I write this, in Rwanda there are such countrymen who once hunted gorillas for those who wanted the animals for the purpose of selling the live gorillas or for their meat or severed parts.  Now, however, these same countrymen have been shown that there is far more profit hunting these same gorillas for tourists to see and sit with.  Please look up Edwin Sabuhoro on the Internet or on Facebook to see what this incredible young man, a CNN hero, has been up to. ( http://www.cnn.com/…/cnnheroes-edwin-sabuhoro.cnn  … and…
http://www.cnn.com/…/edwin-sabuhoro-consevation-hero-gorillas-poaching/)

Edwin Sabuhoro

Edwin demonstrates how a little discussion, then a little money (his own) and a little encouragement have not only changed the lives of the Virunga Mountain Gorillas, but have changed the lives of the men, women and children in the villages where the ex-poachers … emphasis on EX … live.  There is so much more $$$ for all the people and governments to make if only they were mindful enough to choose to protect their  precious wildlife while allowing them to roam free for paying tourists to see and shoot with their cameras rather than with their high-powered rifles.  Yet … all will come to pass if these governments don’t wake up to what could be and condemn what currently is.  Much of African wildlife delicately teeters on the edge of extinction.  Soon, it will be too late!

Gorilla

Total genocide will come to pass as long as the governments of Africa allow those who do not live in their countries to steal every last one of their precious resource until there is nothing left to plunder; no more heads, no more skins, no more ivory, no more antlers!  Then, and only then will all these governments and their countrymen lament that they were too shortsighted to not have been brave enough to embrace a different future.  Yet, there is still hope.

With the martyrdom of Cecil the Adored Lion, the firestorm is growing in intensity.  The result …

THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING!

We’re watching to see how these countries go forward.

THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING because without our eyes, ears and most of all, our commitment and action … WHO WILL PROTECT THESE ANIMALS from extinction?

12 Comments

Filed under Maribeth Shanley, writing

12 responses to “THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING … By Maribeth Shanley

  1. Paul J. Stam

    Reblogged this on Paper, Mud & Me and commented:

    Maribeth expresses my thoughts so well. Please read this post; all of it. Thank you – pjs/

  2. The world watches , but tragically we’ve mastered the art of watching with eyes closed. Great post

    • Thank you so much, Sheila. Over the past several months I’ve been involved with many other activists and belong to several FB groups. I’ve been honored and asked to write letters for the groups as well as speeches. My activism has led me to Edwin Sabuhoro who I mentioned. As we talked via instant messaging, for some reason, I mentioned I was a writer. He has asked me to help him write his autobiography. This young man could have anyone write it, yet, he asked me. I’m going up to Clemson University, where he’s working on his doctorate and, when finished, will return to Rwanda where he will continue to work with the villages and poachers to change them around as well. One day, I just know I will visit Rwanda with Edwin and sit with the Gorillas of Virunga Mountain. When that day comes, I will know I have died and gone to heaven!

      • Wow. That’s wonderful, and what a great trip to dream of and look forward to . Heaven awaits.

      • (Sorry it’s taken me so long to comment.) I once visited the mountain gorillas of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. (Half the world’s gorillas are in Rwanda and the other half in Uganda.) It is indeed like going to heaven. Quiet, verdant, lush, majestic, and being privileged visitors to their world. As my husband said, “A green cathedral.” Thanks for the post.

  3. Maribeth, Good post! Recently, a friend of mine, who lived and worked near Nairobi, Kenya, had to move because it got too dangerous to be there any longer. He used to send me beautiful pictures, daily, of the animals in the Nairobi National Park on his way to work. Not only the animals have safety issues. So sad!

  4. You’re right Coco. I just wrote a letter for a group who fights for elephants and rhinos. The letter will go to celebrities they are trying to get help from. They’re planning on doing a big concern event. As I wrote the letter, I did a lot of research and learned so much. One of the things I learned that poaching is now run by an organized syndicate as in Mafia type. It’s pretty frightening. It’s so sad what’s happening in Africa and around the world for that matter. Wolves, which nearly went extinct a number of years ago approach that precipice again. We humans just seem to want to get rid of anything that, for us, becomes an inconvenience. Yet, we all must remain hopeful and continue to raise awareness and fight as hard as we can.

  5. A wonderful piece. I hate to think of how quickly wonderful animals are becoming extinct.

    • It is sad beyond belief. Some days I cry non-stop at the carnage and a feeling of helplessness. Yet, we can’t stop fighting. All the beautiful animals depend on our willingness to endure.

  6. thank you for your post – you are right about everything. p,s. your Edwin Sabuhoro links are not working, so I found them by myself – best, joanna

    • Sorry about the links; but I’m glad you found them. He’s an amazing individual. He’s asked me to help him write his autobiography. I feel so fortunate to have met him because I will be there as he takes his journey. Plus, he’s going to introduce me to the gorillas and the ex-poachers who we will write a second book about. Life is full of incredible surprises!

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