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Humankind - the coronavirus of the animal kingdom

Zombie-coronavirusPHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - After 70-odd summers on the surface of this planet, my impression is that it is a decidedly cruel and dangerous place.

It is a place where one’s major preoccupation has to be avoiding being eaten by the savage beasts that occupy it, both in reality and metaphorically.

Among those savage beasts I would number my fellow human beings as occupying a special place.

The crimes and delinquencies of our nasty and aggressive human species are manifold.

They range from wholesale alteration of the planet, the cruel enslavement of their own (and many other innocent) species and probably the eventual rendering of much of the planet uninhabitable.

The fertile rolling hills and wide coastal plain here on the west coast of South Australia are a far cry from the noisy and polluted concrete landscape that is our state capital to the east, but it is still a man-made aberration.

The land around Tumby Bay may look like a bucolic rural scene but it was created by the dispersion of a previous gentle and unassuming people by occupiers from across the seas; invaders who clear felled its vegetation and contained tracts of land within thousands of kilometres of wire fencing.

Where once kangaroos and other wildlife roamed freely there are now enclosed paddocks of mono-crops and hard-hoofed, erosion-creating sheep and cattle interlaced by skeins of bitumen, electric cables and pipelines carrying chemically treated water.

To see the world in its natural state one has to travel to the very remote outback or the rapidly diminishing wilds of places like Papua New Guinea.

Once upon a time the planet was covered by a mosaic of complex ecosystems that functioned in their own right.

Every living and breathing organism had a part to play in a symbiotic system that over the aeons had shaped themselves to perfectly fit into their physical environment.

In each of these ecosystems humans had their place and their part to play in their health and continuance. But human presence was no more important than the tiniest insect or the most humble algae.

Today, the number of unique ecosystems in this mosaic have been considerably reduced. Most, if not all, of these systems have been irreversibly changed or destroyed at the hands of human beings.

There are very few places in the world now where human beings still form essential parts of local ecosystems. Some of those places are in Papua New Guinea. None of them are in Australia.

The only intact ecosystems in Australia occur in remote wilderness areas where human beings have never set foot or been an important part of the landscape.

And yet, these tiny ecosystems are still in danger as humans work assiduously to heat up and alter the climate systems they need to survive.

One day, perhaps in the not too distant future, the planet will arrive at a single, catastrophically degraded ecosystem.

What that might look like is too horrific to contemplate because it will be the point when humanity and many other species cease to exist.

What then can we make of the function of human beings? Are we the destroyer of ecosystems and the planet as we know it?

Is this what Mother Nature intended us to be, its destroyer?

Did she nurture us through time to become the most intelligent organism ever to exist on the planet so we would ultimately destroy it?

Or are we an experiment that is in the final throes of total failure? Are we simply the product of a tragic mistake? Has evolution failed?

So does Mother Nature now plan to get rid of us as quickly as possible? Are we a plague that is uncontrollable and running rampant? Is there a correction and new balance required in which we have no part?

Sometimes, when I see another squashed baby magpie at the side of the road or a splattered and bloody mess that was once a sleepy lizard, woken from his winter slumber and looking for his lifelong mate in the wrong place, these thoughts occur to me and I get angry.

We are truly unpleasant creatures. In terms of a species we are the coronavirus of the animal kingdom.


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Philip Fitzpatrick

Here is a sobering article:


Philip Fitzpatrick

Max Ehrmann's 1927 poem "Desiderata" also springs to mind Garry. Keith used it to illustrate one of Raymond Sigimet's poems a few days ago.

There was a yarn going around that it was found on an ancient parchment but that is a furphy. Chief Seattle's speech is also mythologised, although some would have it that one popular version comes from a Hollywood screenwriter's pen.

Apart from the bit in the middle about business affairs Desiderata is inspiring.

"Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."

Bernard Corden

Dear Phil and Keith - Being former teachers or educators you may have read the obituary for Sir Kenneth Robinson in a recent edition of the Guardian:


A supplementary link provides access to his extremely popular and delightful TED talk entitled "Do Schools Kill Creativity?"


It offers a refreshing alternative to the formulaic sludge often regurgitated by histrionic show ponies using death by Pierrepoint presentations and the following quote from the late Aneurin Bevan resonates:

"Soon, if we are not prudent millions of people will be watching each other starve to death through expensive television sets."

Paul Oates

Sometimes it depends on which set of coloured glasses you put on when you get up in the morning and look at the world.

If we look at where we've as a species have been, with all it's horrors, perhaps the future may not be as grim.

We now have the ability to communicate globally and highlight the things we could and should do better. Maybe it's just that we now know why many things happen that makes that knowledge more threatening than when we had to depend on superstitions to try and explain the apparent inexplicable.

Maski wantok. Displa glas em hap pulap tasol. Planti wara iyet istap.

Garry Roche

Phil, what you have written reminds me of some of the ideas and sentiments contained in a speech by Chief Seattle in Washington State, USA, way back in 1854: “…the view of ripe hills is blotted with talking wires…”

There are various versions of the speech, however the general emphasis is on humanity’s link with all of life.

There is indeed controversy about the various versions of the speech, but this in my opinion does not detract from the value of the several issues and questions raised in the speech.

The speech can be found on Google, one version is found on:


Chief Seattle is reported as saying: “The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?”

And: “What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! … … The end of living and the beginning of survival.”

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