It has been a couple of weeks since I was last on a trail. It has been a hectic process of making Inna’s move to the US possible and a stunningly dreadful process it was.
There are lots of wonderful aspects of the USA that I love but their treatment of immigrants and would-be immigrants is not one of them. That a country that once proclaimed “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free” has drifted so far from that founding principle is shocking.
I won’t rail on it here in this blog but America should do the decent thing and remove that inscription. It is shockingly misleading.
So, anyway, Inna and I went to Circle B the other morning and it spawned two sets of images, the first of which is here. This set involved the death of a fish (or the successful catch by an Anhinga, depending on which way you want to look at it.)
In reverence to the fish, I decided to give him his own platform rather than have his death get lost in the middle of a complete set of trail images. The thought that his death would become a mere footnote in an otherwise fun shoot, seemed unfair.
And so, this is to you, Freddy.
The shots turned out quite awesome and when the Anhinga broke the water surface with his catch, it happened only about 60 or 70 feet away from where we were standing. So, it was well within reach of my 600 mm zoom lens.
I shot the scene from that first moment where the fish suddenly appeared above the surface wondering what had hit him to where the light had left his eyes and he disappeared down the gullet of his captor.
I have placed some images of the scene at the end of this blog and hope you “enjoy” them.
It was honestly the following day before the thought for this blog took shape in my head. And it revolved around my desire not to lose his final images in the middle of a larger set from the trail.
You see, I don’t believe the death of any creature should merely be a footnote in a bigger story. If that is what it becomes then we have devalued the life of the recently departed and minimized its existence.
All lives are significant. If not to those around the living creature, then surely to the creature himself.
Of course, being human, we prioritize human life higher that other animals and then further prioritize lives based on our own belief system and surrounds.
Faced with a huge number of living creatures, we are right to do so, however we need to be careful not to minimize those whose lives we have not prioritized.
Remember how in 2001 when those of us in the US experienced the 9/11 tragedy where over 3,000 lives were lost? Well, just a couple of months later in Asia, almost 300,000 lives were lost in a catastrophic tsunami.
Yet this second event barely made the news here, so involved with our own tragedy were we.
In fairness, there is only so much news airplay in a given day, so I don’t fault anyone for prioritizing what happened here. But the scope of the human tragedy in Asia was very much minimized within the general view that these were foreigners. Distant peoples living irrelevant lives.
And that is where the shame lies. To each of those poor souls, and very likely those around them, their lives were equally important to anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the twin towers that day.
Each of these had dreams, hopes, loves, that were completely extinguished within moments and none voluntarily decided to end their lives drowning in a sea of misery.
Lady Liberty turned a blind eye to their suffering and instead turned her gaze to focus on the ruins of the buildings behind her in Manhattan.
On a larger scale, we humans have managed to isolate ourselves away from the death of other creatures by our own lofty aggrandisement above all other creatures. We elevate our significance to a level where we too can turn our gaze away and look elsewhere as creatures are slaughtered for fun or profit.
Did you know that the latest numbers (2013) show that over 100 million sharks are killed each year by humans? Compare that to the 57 humans that were killed by sharks in 2022 and you will see the disparity.
This is like when a few ragged Palestinians fire stupid rockets into Israeli territory in protest at their lands being occupied and then the Israeli Defense Forces launch an all-out aerial attack on residential areas killing and maiming hundreds in response.
Our ability to differentiate between one group of humans and another or between humans and other animals, is based purely on our “us” versus “them” notion.
It is a cancer that belies the truth of this world and mocks the reality that actually, we are all “us”.
Poor Freddy’s adventure came to an end suddenly and without provocation. There was no malevolence in Andy Anhinga’s actions and I think Freddy’s final thought on the circle of life was that he was just playing his part.
Andy needed to eat and this was the basis upon which he killed. If he ever opens up his own business killing fish for fun or profit, then I will have a different view.
… just a thought!