Sunday, July 28, 2013

These Geese (Reaction or Proaction?)

The last two remaining geese at Jackie Onassis Reservoir in Central Park. The female (right) sill molting and not yet able to fly.  Her mate loyally  stays with her, despite the rest of the flock moving on when regaining flight feathers. (Observations of Canada geese, Central Park)
 During the past six weeks of goose roundups in New York City, hits on this blog and new likes on goose related Facebook pages increased nearly ten fold.

The issue of goose massacres has suddenly captured public attention especially in the aftermath of publicized USDA WS goose slaughters around the country, including Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and of course, New York City.

But, one has to wonder if this is simply reaction as we tend to see every year around this time, or could it at last be representing, proaction in the sense of people wanting to become and stay involved with the issue?

That is a hard question to answer as only time inevitably tells.

It is unfortunately easy to think that because goose roundups are "over" for this year, it makes sense to move on to something else.

But, that is only to predict and guarantee the same cycle for next year: --  Wildlife killing and temporary public reaction and protest.

As a USDA official said to me a couple of years ago, "Sure, people are upset for a little while.  But, then they go home and turn on football."

Putting aside the fact that football is not a summer sport, the statement is nonetheless, generally true.

Once the media stories, comments or letters fade from the Internet or newspapers, what else is one to do?

But, sometimes life is what happens when you've made other plans. 

That is actually the way geese happened for me. 

I inadvertently noticed geese when my life and plan was focused elsewhere.

And then came NYC goose roundups and slaughters. 

And then came everything else.....

This morning there was an interesting commentary featured on CBS Sunday Morning:

A man, Mark Hirsch, who had enjoyed a successful career as a newspaper photojournalist was laid off from his job.

Hirsch was able to establish himself as a free lance photographer, but some time after that, he was in a serious automobile accident and his life and career took a plunge.

It was then he noticed a tree that had long been missed in his neighborhood.

He began taking photos of the tree -- 365 of them over the course of a year.

The photos were taken at different times, different seasons and often of the wildlife temporarily inhabiting the tree.

Hirsch created a successful Facebook page of his captivating photos and apparently now these are being incorporated into a book:

What does a story like this teach and show us?

It demonstrates that real life and real change is not about reaction or even plan, but, the small things of everyday life (that we ordinarily take for granted or don't even notice) and the directions these can take us if we open our eyes and minds to them.

Personally, I don't believe real change for the geese who for decades now, are being relentlessly hunted, demonized, harassed and destroyed will occur because of any temporary social "reaction," protest or plan, but rather the simple human actions of consistent and patient observance, engagement, recording and appreciation (just like the ordinary citizen photographing a tree for a year).

The endings of goose roundups in NYC or elsewhere are not in fact a signal to "move on" to something else over the next year.  They are, on the contrary, a signal that something is wrong and we need to pay close attention and carefully record and document the still living and with us.

If we wanted to, for example, save trees, would that best be achieved by grieving or protesting trees that have already been cut down or showing what the trees were before the plans and actions taking them from this earth?

Acts already done have rationalization and excuse.

Acts contemplated require observance, discovery, thought, analysis and discussion.

The reason I believe we don't succeed in stopping goose roundups is because we are mostly "reactive" to acts already perpetrated and having excuse and justification. -- Justification and excuse that we were not part of in the planning.

In essence, the time to stop future goose roundups and slaughters begins the very day goose roundups of this year end.

Next year, we should ideally have 365 photos of those resident geese still surviving in our parks to show, "THIS is why these geese belong here. They are part of the natural environment."  

The reality is those geese slaughtered and those trees cut down for which there is no recorded documentation, never really existed.

One suspects no one will be cutting down "That Tree" on the edge of a southwestern Wisconsin corn field any time soon.

That only we could say the same for the geese.

"These geese" who live, and move in and out of our environments, but for whom we fail to document or even notice -- until the day they are rounded up and slaughtered.

And then it is too late to take their picture -- or even effectively protest their loss. -- PCA


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