With knowledge comes responsibility. Responsibility requires action

Some time ago I was walking my little dog Milly by the beach at dawn and we came across an injured lorikeet (native Australian bird), unable to fly back into the trees, and therefore a target for dogs and cars. Milly went crazy, thankfully restrained from doing further harm by her lead. Another lorikeet flew down as if to check on this bird, defying fear of the humans who had gathered around.

The bird was obviously sick and broken..the kindest thing would be to euthanise it. (Why is it we know the kindest thing to do to animals that are suffering and yet feel so righteous about prolonging human suffering?)

My heart broke for this bird’s plight. There really was no happy ending, except a quick death.

If only I had not walked by at this moment, on this morning. Because now I know. But I had walked by. I was a witness. I cannot un-witness, even if I longed to.

When we move from not knowing to knowing, everything changes…we move from innocence to responsibility.

I cannot deny I know. I cannot deny that in my knowing I now have choices. And these choices may exact a high price.

Do I walk away and leave the bird to the harshness of nature?

Do I pick up the bird and take it somewhere to be cared for?

I thought about the burden of knowing in other domains…

When we know our partner or politicians are lying to us, do we choose to ignore it? Act on it? Forgive? Step over? Accept lies as truth, and in the doing, support the propagation of the lie?

When we know that how humans are living on Earth is destroying Earth, do we do something, or not? Is our something an act, or hollow words of complaint?

When we know that our masters of finance and industry are exploiting and pillaging, that the very system upon which we have built our world is creating exactly the extremes of poverty of finance and soul that we see…what do we do? Say a prayer of gratitude that it is not me who is in poverty. Go shopping? Or do we act?

With knowledge comes responsibility. Yet our schools (and homes) are hell-bent on cramming our heads with knowledge and doing little to build the muscle of responsibility.

Responsibility is to act…to no longer be the innocent bi-stander. It is to respond to. To claim our part of the larger whole, that the birds suffering is mine, the Earth’s breakdown affects me, you, our children’s future.

To turn and walk away, to do nothing, is to diminish our own self as an essential part of the whole.

Mostly we know, yet we do nothing. This is the tragedy of the human condition. This is our collective shame. It might be rooted in the false story that one person cannot affect change. History proves that story wrong again and again. Rosa Parks, Greta Thunberg…and the millions of ordinary humans doing their part. My daughter picking up rubbish on the beach.

What did I do that morning?…in the beginning I walked away from the bird. But his little soul would not leave me in peace. I came back…to take him to a vet to be euthanized. He was gone.

This little bird was my teacher…my lesson on being a human..a responsible human.

Because I have dedicated my life to learning and knowledge I have much more to be responsible for. This is the way of it. Education, access, knowledge, ask us to balance the books.

December 6th 2019

Photo taken December 6th 2019