Yesterday I went to the movies to see "Earth", Disney's feature-length True Life Adventure released on Earth Day 2009. This "Earth":
It was... fabulous.
It was also a strange temporal jar. One part of me was rooted in the past, remembering and loving the True Life Adventures of my childhood. Another part was sitting in the cinema enthralled by the things I was seeing on the screen. And yet another part of me... was wishing desperately that I could stop seeing this movie, this glimpse into our wonderful enchanted world, as an elegy, as almost a farewell, as an attempt to preserve something of what used to be before it's all gone forever. I was watching animals on their ancient annual migrations - three million (three MILLION!!!) caribou who are utterly dependent on the vast open spaces of the far north; the cranes which migrate from Mongolia to India across the Himalayas; the trek of desert elephants to the seasonal paradise that is the Okavango Delta floods. I was watching a polar bear go too far on the too-soon melting ice... and pay with his life. I was seeing things that had always happened, that generations upon generations of beasts of the field and forest and the sky and the deep know with a visceral instinct - but which is all vanishing away as the human race spreads and spreads and spreads, and vital wetlands which were the stopping ground of bird migrations get dried out and turned into subdivisions or destroyed with subsistence agriculture until they are no more than bowls of dust and ashes, and rainforests get cut down, and the changing climate allows pests and disease which could never flourish before to decimate vulnerable forests and seas, there is always less and less water and open wilderness, less and less room for anything other than US, the ever-hungry, ever-increasing, ever-infiltrating humanity. And the more there are of us, the more mouths need to be fed. The more acres need to be ploughed, or fenced off for cattle. The less room there is for the wild to cling to itsself.
And this movie... I look into the golden predator eyes of a lion, and I see there... a knowing. A sadness. This is not their world any more.
I loved the movie. But it made me sad.
I wish there was more I could do to save and shelter the wild places of this world. We don't think we need them any more, the proud humans who think they are the lords of all creation. But I think that one day we'll all wake up and every last inch of ground will be paved or owned by somebody... and some part of our spirit, quietly and without fuss, will simply fade away.
And we will be the poorer for it.