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  • Writer's pictureCoco

Coco Calling No.188: The War in North Devon

A few days ago, my owner took himself off for a walk. (Humans like to do that sort of thing. I prefer a good fly myself). Leading out of our village there’s a nice quiet lane which follows the course of a river valley. He hadn’t been walking for very long when glancing over the top of a hedge, he spotted a beautiful Roe Deer making its way through a neighbouring field. My owner stopped and marvelled at the effortless movement of the deer as it bounded with ease and grace across the uneven surface of the ground. And it was making a beeline straight towards him! But then the outline of two humans appeared over the brow of the field. They had guns in their hands which were pointed at the deer, and almost immediately, a volley of loud gunfire shattered the peace of the valley. My owner, sensing that he too was in the line of fire, quickly ducked down behind the hedge. Meanwhile, the deer was able to make good its escape by bounding into a nearby wood.

Earlier in the week, an illegal hunt had taken place on the other side of the valley. It involved a large pack of barking dogs, numerous horse riders, a human with a hunting horn and various lookouts parked up in cars, all with binoculars and walkie-talkies. Presumably they were also out to kill some deer, all in the name of “sport” and “tradition”. Except it can never be called “sport” because the odds are stacked so heavily against the animals being hunted. There seems to be a common belief amongst the local country folk that “a good animal is a dead animal.” And so relentless hunting and shooting take place on an almost daily basis across North Devon without any thought being given towards the harm that’s being done.

Each evening when my owner and I watch the television news together, we see the terrible pictures of what some humans are doing to others in a country called “The Ukraine.” The images of all the destruction, the violence and the suffering are almost too terrible for us to watch.

And yet, that’s just how life is for a great many animals here in North Devon. They must feel that humans are waging an endless war against them and that the war will continue until there is nothing left to hunt or shoot.

Of course, humans are a more advanced species that other types of animal. So, for them, it’s rather more newsworthy when other humans are being shot or shelled or bombed or starved. Whenever mindless acts of human violence destroy husbands, wives, children or parents. But what about the wildlife around here? Who, if anybody, notices what’s going on? Is there anyone brave enough to stand up and tell it as it is? In the Ukraine, humans have their President Zelensky to tell the world what’s happening but there don’t seem to be any President Zelenskys here in North Devon. And so the relentless, mindless and often illegal slaughter of wild creatures continues unabated. The local culture of hunting and shooting anything and everything has been passed down through successive generations and often binds human communities together. Will anyone be brave enough to stand up and say that “Enough is enough; it’s wrong; it must stop!”?

You see, there’s one major thing which connects the wildlife of North Devon to the innocent humans that are suffering in the Ukraine. Because both are central to God’s creation. So often, humans try to justify what they are doing by saying it’s a part of their culture and tradition. And in the case of the Kremlin, the arguments are based upon lies and deceit. But in both cases, humans are deluding themselves and defying God. Wars, shooting and hunting with dogs were never a part of God’s plan for this world. There will never be “peace on Earth” while these three things continue unchecked. Humanity is rapidly destroying the world around it as well as itself. Mankind continues to be out of control, just as it was when it put Jesus to death all those years ago. And how God must weep every day. How He must weep whenever another needless killing takes place. And yet, quite incredibly, He continues to love all parts of His creation. What kind of love is that? Is it a love that has the potential to change the world and everything in it? Will the day finally come when humans around here discover this same kind of love within their beings and then share it with one another and with the whole of God’s creation? Because that will be the day when our world is transformed…

“To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God.”

(Pope Francis: 1936-present: Head of the Catholic Church).

“We are stewards, not masters of the Earth…. Each of us has a personal responsibility to care for creation, this precious gift which God has entrusted to us.”

(Pope Francis: 1936-present: Head of the Catholic Church).

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

(Mark Twain: 1835-1910: American author).

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

(C.S. Lewis: 1898-1963: British writer and lay theologian).

“God then assigned to humans the responsibility to tend and care for His creation.”

(Genesis 2:15).

“In His (God’s) hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

(Job: 12:10).


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