First They Came For The Passenger Pigeon And I Did Not Speak Out

First they came for the Passenger Pigeon

And I did not speak out

Then they came for the Blue Whale

And I did not speak out

Next they came for the Polar Bear

And I did not speak out

And then they came for me

And there were no other species left


What differs today than when the original “First they came…” poem was written in 1930′s Germany is that the writer (Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller) had a clear enemy, Hitler and the Nazis. Today, the enemy is ourselves and the society we maintain. We live in a culture of destruction with no regard towards our environment and it’s not long before Homosapiens are on the endangered species list.

I recently had a conversation with someone about oil and rising gas prices. While Americans are suffering with gas prices reaching four dollars a gallon and rising, we search for ways to bring the cost down. Across the country, the conversation is not “how can we reduce our automobile use so we’re not dependent on cars?” nor is it “what could we use for fuel instead of oil?”, it isn’t even “what kind of car could I get that would reduce my personal dependency on gas and save myself some money in the long run?” (assuming you’re among the decreasing number of Americans who have enough income to think about a new car).

Instead, when I was talking to this woman, there was an immediate question of “where should we drill next?” And then answering herself with “Alaska”. Continuing with “Polar Bears don’t matter anyway”. (To answer your question, yes, she was serious). This is not a radical right wing neo-conservative, but a twenty-something working mother. And, the thinking of the rest of “Middle America”.

We have gotten to the point in our dangerous lifestyle, that we don’t even think to ask simple questions. Ones that would include voluntarily changing our lives so that our children won’t have a high risk to severe asthma. Or, how we could reduce the endangered species list. Even thinking about sharing the world with the rest of the species that live here is an incredibly radical thing. That’s where we are at in American History.

Often times we point the finger at corporations, or the government, or various leaders for the environmental problems that we face today. And there is truth behind that. But we also need to take a step back and examine the real perpetrators; the participants in the society.

While it is incredibly difficult to change one’s lifestyle and live a more sustainable life, that is not to say that it’s impossible. Nor is it to say that it is unnecessary. Quite the opposite, it is more than necessary. If we wish to have a world for future generations, than we should stop putting the blame on those whom we’ll never meet and won’t listen to us.

Even with the large percentage of us in the US who do care about the environment and wish to have a world of sustainability, we do not take the time to change our lives. It is true, we are too busy with work, family, school, etc, but it’s also a time for change. I, as much as this working mother, have very little time. But is time more important than the future of our lives and communities? Is it impossible to change our lives so we do have time to create and maintain a sustainable society?

When the polar icecaps melt and the US coasts (not to mention the rest of the world) are a puddle, then who is to blame? When there no longer enough fish in the oceans, who is to blame? When seafood is not an option, who is to blame? When the species who share our world are dying off, who is to blame?

These are not radical apocalyptic predictions, but serious problems the young generation is going to witness. How much longer will this be pushed off? How many animals on the extinct species list is too many? How many more natural disasters need to happen before we begin changing the nature that created them? How high will gas prices have to get before you throw away your car? Or search for sustainable energy? How long until we’re on the endangered species list? And what are you going to do to prevent that?

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