Over the Hill

We had a chance to help Arroyo Grande’s friendly fox. Instead, we killed it

Mother Nature doesn’t carry a cell phone. I concluded that after reading recent Tribune stories about one of Mother Nature’s offsprings. It was that little gray fox named “Foxy” who wandered around Arroyo Grande.

Unfortunately, Foxy killed some chickens, and Mother Nature couldn’t be reached. So the government was called, and Foxy is now dead.

I think I understand why Foxy was killed. I lived my first 13 years on a 10-acre farm in western New York state. My sister had a white collie that developed a taste for our neighbors’ chickens. He had to be killed. Chickens and eggs were valuable sources of food and income during the 1930s and still are today.

But Mother Nature, and her big sister, Mother Earth, can also be brutal. Look at all the hurricanes, floods and huge wildfires we’ve had this year. They left many thousands of animals and humans homeless or dead.

And many humans are also cruel to animals and to each other. But every so often an exceptional person comes along who tries to teach us to help each other and to have hope. I’m speaking of people like Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. They tried to teach us to be merciful. They gave us reasons to have hope. And we killed all four of them.

But I’m still hoping that other exceptional people will come along to save us from the world’s rising temperatures, melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels and threats of nuclear war.

And I hope some exceptional people will come along one day and tell us when the Earth’s human population has increased enough. If we continue to increase indefinitely we’ll all starve or fight wars using unthinkably powerful weapons of mass destruction.

National Geographic said that in 1930 (the year I was born) the human population of Earth was 2 billion. The U.S. Census Bureau says it’s now almost 7.5 billion. And I say Earth is now showing its wear.

“Love thy neighbor.” That’s what Jesus and the others tried to teach us, but it hasn’t really caught on yet. Maybe we should start with something easier. such as “Like your neighbor.” Or, “Don’t bug your neighbor.” That should be doable. It would be a realistic beginning.

“Help our enemies” may be even more realistic. In World War II the United States and our allies decisively defeated Germany and Japan. But we didn’t demand reparations payments from our defeated enemies. Instead, we spent billions helping them. They are now our allies.

The way to survive this difficult life is to cooperate with each other. And every so often Mother Nature sends us a messenger to remind us of that. That friendly little fox was one of those messengers. It made hundreds of people want to help it survive.

The world needs more unselfish impulses like that. I hope they become contagious.

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every other week. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.

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