Tonight I will be joining a group of people who patrol the culling zone in Somerset, protesting and trying to prevent further killing of badgers.
Why am I doing this? For god sakes I create art from dead creatures. I cut, flay and skin animals, then reinvent them.
I also cradle these animals, and feel the weight of their bodies, feel their strengths and attributes and often mourn their death.
I have too many times carried a road killed badger, feeling its weight, being impacted by its power. I have walked in woods and been impressed by the way a badgers’ toilet is located at a distance from their sett, often finding the bones that they store in their many chambered home.
I believe badgers carry the spirit of the land in their ways and traditions; practices which create a lineage that connects us all to our ancestry. I would like to believe that lineage will continue forward, but for this continuation I need to do something beyond giving donations, beyond crying every time I hear or see details of this unnecessary cull, and beyond using social networking to spread a word that everyone knows.
Okay. Maybe you think I wax lyrical and am contradictory and over-emotional but hey, I’m human.
I do have a practical side. I was brought up in a rural environment in New Zealand and have various family members who are farmers.
I may be a vegetarian but I don’t have a problem with eating meat if you are hungry, nor with hunting if you hunt to survive, doing it in the respectful manner that nature has created and that marks us out as the animal we are.
I do have a problem with mass killing of anything with no good reason. I do have a problem with a daily body count of corpses the size of a five year old child and just as innocent.
Perhaps I will be a liability tonight and will cry and freak out; perhaps I will just stand around in a car park, chain smoking and wanting to go home to bed. I have no doubt I will be a wreck when I go to work the next day having had little or no sleep.
As I get older I become more aware of patterns and mechanisations in people’s behaviours and the world in general; like many others I reached a point where I needed to make a decision as to how to deal with these insights.
I can ignore them, accepting them as an external, eternal manifestation of the ways of man. I can hunker down to distractions of earning a living, paying the bills and trying to sandwich enjoyment of life in-between.
The alternative is I can do something. I can take risks, speak up, make a noise, and take action.
I can pick up a high visibility jacket, walk away from my computer and confront the issue in real terms.