Date: 7/26/22 8:12 am From: Jerry Davis <jwdavis...> Subject: Birders Live in A Word Of Wounds
Living And Working In A World Of Wounds
Jerry Wayne Davis
July 25, 2022
Aldo Leopold in A Sand County Almanac wrote “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
As birders, ecologists, and wildlife biologists, we live and see the world of wounds. Some close their eyes and try to live in denial and wish it away. Others try to solve the problems and doctor and heal the land. The constant barrage on what we love and care about generates stress and anxiety. We often see and feel hopelessness at times as we work to heal the wounds on the land and our declining natural resources. This condition has been termed "Eco-grief" and others can include "Eco-anxiety" "climate grief" and solastalgia “which is an emerging form of depression or distress caused by environmental change, such as from climate change, natural disasters, extreme weather conditions, and/or other negative or upsetting alterations to one's surroundings or home”. Our loss of 3 billion birds since 1967 and the accelerating bird decline of 4% per year, the loss of a billion birds per year to window strikes and another billion to feral and free-roaming cats, and many other causes have some trying to do what they can. The disappearance of birds in our yards and once familiar at our favorite birding sites has gotten the attention of others. Michelle Doen says that “healthcare and mental health professionals have documented encountering “compassion fatigue” in their work”. Professionals on the front line of wildlife conservation, climate change, and environmental protection, experience similar fatigue.
Those on the front lines of major causes, whether it be environmental, social, medical, or political, are on the edge of burnout and dropping into serious mental and emotional struggles. It is important that this is recognized and we get this into our conversations and support. Understanding the stresses, frustration, and grief and getting it out there to look at and talk about, can help with the healing and recovery process. Research shows that only one person in 100 actively does something to overcome recognized ecological and resource problems that can be generating Eco-grief and Eco-anxieties. We cannot afford to lose the ones that are trying to make a difference. Talking to others with similar challenges and attacking similar problems and causes, can help. Those that are not active on the front lines can recognize and encourage the efforts of those that are. You can show your appreciation for what is being done. When people are appreciated, the brain shifts its thinking from scarcity thinking to having or being enough. A grateful brain gives off dopamine and serotonin that tell the body that things will be OK. This helps to recharge the mind and body energy to continue the fight against environmental and other injustices that need to be dealt with. Everyone can help by being actively involved on the front lines of environmental actions, and listening to and cheering those that are. You can, directly and indirectly, make a difference positively.