Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Non-Human Rights

cognizance media photo of Ta'Kaiya Blaney,
young First Nations environmental activist

The wild things have gathered in council,
a council for all beings,
to confer about the state of things on the land.

Ms Mountain Goat speaks first.
Those who tromp in heavy boots
through our forest
talk about their rights: human rights,
the right to own what can never be owned,
the rights of the multinationals 
to rape and pillage and pay nothing back,
the right to work, the right to hold money 
as their God,
as if they are the only ones who have rights.
What about non-human rights?

The animals all nod and murmur.
Mr Bear moves to the center of the circle.
What about our rights? he asks pleasantly,
dipping his paw into a honeypot, then licking.
I have a harder time each winter 
finding a quiet spot to rest.
The Mrs has a terrible time 
keeping the youngsters safe
Everywhere are the big machines, 
the grappleyarders, destroying our habitat,
and the metal creatures on rubber feet 
that kill so many -human and non-human alike-
on the highways.

Yes! non-human rights! 
how do we make them hear us?
All of the animals are animated, and chattering.

This is when the Standing People,
the Talking Trees, who have been listening, 
finally speak:
Our numbers are diminishing and, 
along with us, our tree wisdom,
and the ecosystems which help all to live.
The oceans are filling with their garbage.
The air is filling with their polluted smoke.
The earth is warming from 
their addiction to fossil fuel.
They do not realize - though it is clear to see -
that they will choke to death, or drown,
 alongside the rest of us.

The critters exchange glances.
Tall Tree has spoken truth.

Who will take this message to their leaders? 
asks Rabbit.

It will be a child, for only a child has eyes 
clear enough to see,  replies Tree.

                             *****          *****          ******

Susan's prompt at Mid Week Motif is human rights. This caused me to think about non-human rights, which are rarely considered.


  1. Hey, Sherry! The issues are stark, but this poem and approach to them are delightful. I didn't want them to end. Can't you hold off on the child for awhile? Have them consider a variety of candidates--several pages of this illustrated adult/children's book before getting to the child?
    Just saying ...

  2. Indeed only a child can see with eyes without blinders of greed. I like the way that nature gets along...

  3. Clearly it is not us that can save the world but remember who your children will taught by! Their teachers will be Greed, Prejudice, and Carelessness and Neglect and we will pay dearly for that service and so will they.

  4. Love the wisdom and the solution to chose the child to take the message to leaders. ' I have a harder time each winter
    finding a quiet spot to rest.' ~ sounds so true. Love this parable.

  5. oh i imagine it would have to be a child...non human rights...we cant even get human right correct at this point...think that may be a long time coming...smiles.

  6. A wonderful take on human rights — and a beautiful ending.

  7. Delightful... the best part of being human is the ability to imagine to's great when you have this gift as a child...even better if you keep it when you 'grow up' ;)

  8. and the eagle soared above squeeling that his streams and rivers can no longer sustain him and his cousins the osprey over oceans also squeel and caw that too many of them are dying from discarded trash. and so it goes on, this call for non-human rights, the little humans innocently knowing of their plight. listen to our children for they wish to have an earth to reside upon.

    gracias mi amiga

  9. true a child can do this..also if adults who can see the world through child like innocence from inside can do it too..

  10. Sherry,

    Your natural affiliation with the real world and the animal world, is so wonderfully linked in this poem. You have such wisdom and such powerful understanding, of how we are defying the natural 'ways.' Love that only children know with the eyes to see..It is so true!! Especially with the wisdom attributed to the Native Indian people..They can give the reasons, in answers from what they observe...


  11. Great poem, reminds me of the book "Old Turtle."

  12. this took me back to the stories i read as a child. a poem about animal rights which you rightfully state that only children understand them. when i was a child, i loved my dogs and cats with all my soul and would silently scream when they are unjustly treated. (tears)


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