Why we should immerse ourselves in the lives of animals

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Why we should immerse ourselves in the lives of animals

Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives… by Richard Louv, Algonquin Books US $27.95, Pp 302, November 2019, ISBN 978-1616205607

In recent decades, we have had growing evidence that human life is dependent on animal life. There are strong bonds between humans and animals that we cannot see with naked eye. In Our Wild Calling, Richard Louv argues in favor of creating and sustaining a shared habitat for both humans and animals. He redefines how humans and animals can coexist peacefully. Richard Louv has very deep love for nature. He inspired an international movement to connect children and nature when he wrote Last Child in the Woods. He believes that the relationship between humans and nature and animals needs to be further explored.

Louv argues that there are at least two reasons to further explore our personal relationships with other animals. One is human health and well-being. Since 2005, the number of studies indicating the psychological, physical, and cognitive benefits of nature experience has grown from a relative handful to nearly a thousand. Most of these studies have focused on the general impact of green nature in our lives — for example, how the proximity of trees can help reduce the symptom of attention-deficit disorder in children. Today, researchers, including those within the traditional disciplines of biology and ecology and also those working in the relatively new and exciting fields of anthrozoology, eco psychology, and animal-assisted therapy – are exploring the evolving relationship between humans and other animals. These studies reveal what indigenous people have known all along. Though an encounter with any animal, wild or domestic, can sometimes be dangerous, our relationships with other-than-human beings can also have a profoundly positive impact on our health, our spirit, and our sense of inclusiveness in the world.

The second reason centers on the current condition of the natural world. Louv quotes the Pulitzer-winning book, The Sixth Extinction, in which science writer Elizabeth Kolbert describes the five mass extinctions during the past billion years and interviews the scientists monitoring the sixth extinction, which some predict will be the largest since the time of the dinosaurs. It is the extinction of the wildlife. Between 1970 and 2014, the global wildlife population shrank by 60 percent, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

To most of us, the threat seems impersonal and unreal. In 2016, a year after Kolbert’s book was published, the electronic gaming magazine ZAM reported that the “explorers” of a self-generated universe depicted in the online game No Man’s Sky had discovered ten million virtual species in the first twenty-four hours after the game’s release. Louv says that creating or discovering new species seems easy in the imaginative space of a video game. Taking action in the physical world will require a more demanding leap of imagination, a journey into the habitat of the heart. Louv writes, “By that, I mean that reversing or slowing biodiversity collapse and climate change cannot be accomplished solely through science, technology, or politics. We have much of the information we need already. Success will require a far larger constituency than what exists today, one with greater emotional and spiritual connection to the family of animals, recognizing in all nature the “inescapable network or mutuality” that Martin Luther King Jr. called for among human beings.

Louv says that the only way people come to truly care about animals is to know them, to immerse themselves in the flow of nature and the lives of animals including the ones who can hurt us. Nothing stimulates awe and humility, not to mention the survival instinct, quite as much as being on the receiving end of a wild predator’s fury or unfathomable mercy. The liminal space between life and death is where both vulnerability and change are most possible.

This impassioned book is well-researched and written for a range of readers. In beautifully pose, Louv tells us that we need to love and care for nature and animals in order to save ourselves and our planet. This thoughtful book is packed with new knowledge and fresh perspectives. Louv removes the mystery from the relationship between the nature and human kind if there was any. Our Wild Calling is about all of us. It was never more needed than now. It is strongly recommended for all those who care for the planet and life.

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