Yesterday was my birthday, and for the first time ever I wasn't sure how to feel about it. So many things happened during the past year, so many people I loved aren't here anymore, and the world changed - but probably not as much as it needs to do to ensure anyone's future.
That sounds pessimistic, but the bees are still dying out. Birds are starving to death because there aren't enough insects to sustain them. The Gulf Stream has slowed down by 20% and if if slows down too much or even stops, my part of the world will be inhabitable. To name just a few. These are problems that must be dealt with within my expected lifetime.
I would never have imagined any of this as a child. I thought we would have warp drive, sentient androids, and flying cars by the year 2,000. I used to count to figure out how old I'd be in the year 2,000, because I worried I'd be too old to enjoy it. Compared to that, reality is quite disappointing.
It isn't a local to "anywhere" kind of problem - we humans are the issue, and too many of us have learned nothing. As an animal advocate I recently got involved in a local debate about foxes. My village is tiny and surrounded by a forest, and people - who literally live adjacent to the forest - complain about wildlife. How is a fox supposed to know where the woods end and someone's garden starts? These arguments do nothing to sway the haters - the foxes have to go. Someone must shoot them. They must die.
A Swedish fox weighs around 11 pounds, so these are small animals. One woman's argument for killing the foxes is that they may sneak up on her children when they're playing in the yard and drag them into the woods. She believes an animal the size of a large house cat will be able to approach a group of children, grab one of them, and drag it into the forest. When some of the residents of the village suggested being afraid of something doesn't necessarily mean it's dangerous, she lost it. Because obviously, people arguing with her is quite hurtful and someone pointing out that she might not be correct is a danger to everyone's ability to voice an opinion. Hmm...
One of her supporters said, "We shouldn't have any foxes, because they might have worms and other parasites, and then they poop in the forest on berries humans pick and eat, and then we'll get worms and parasites too."
Alrightey then... We humans think so highly of ourselves that other animals can't exist even in the forest because they might poop there, and this is an inconvenience. That says all anyone needs to know of our species.
Anyway, birthday. Last year on my birthday was the last time someone visited my house. It was just on the verge of the Covid-19 outbreak in Sweden. A year...
Without today's technology, that would be unbearable. But luckily we have social media, Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime. And at least for me, that made all the difference. I felt the outpour of love from friends on social media, and my colleagues in Lakeland threw me a virtual birthday party. They sang to me on Skype, and had even purchased a birthday cake. Both cute and funny!
Looking forward, what do you think of the upcoming year? Will we be back at something resembling the old normal in twelve months, or will we find something completely new? Will we have bested the virus with vaccines, or will it mutate enough to keep humanity on our toes? Will some new and unexpected disaster arise, or one of the ones already lurking? I don't know, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.