Wolves, Economy, and Faith
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy


Bob Muth

While reading a guest opinion, "Wolf facts or faux facts?" (Feb. 6, Daily Inter Lake) one phrase jumped out at me from its sweeping personal attack on Brian Peck (who gave a talk on wolf mythology and recovery in Montana): “In these perilous economic times many people could use the food provided by wild game that is wasted on wolves.”

Certainly no one should deny that each of us needs to awaken to the ethical responsibility for our neighbor in difficult times.

That is only basic to what it means to be human. But to portray another species' natural fulfillment in the larger economy of life as "wasteful," only perpetuates the economy of human self-interests that enabled today’s crisis. I say this fully recognizing the difficult challenge within my own heart to reconcile predation with my longing for a peaceful kingdom. But demonizing the wolf is an ancient and not too subtle attempt to disown our human responsibility to live within the boundaries of the earth.

It should be obvious by now that the faith of most of the establishment economists in deregulation, tax cuts for corporations and the rich, and that wealth gathered at the top trickles down, is broken. Alan Greenspan, the former head of the Federal Reserve, now admits that the widespread faith in our particular form of free market economics was blind, and that he did not foresee today’s crisis.

Maybe it is time to shift our faith to the lessons of the larger, authentic, and primal economy of life: The Creation. Faith in the sub-economy we humans have built exploiting nature (and compassion) seems to be imploding all around us. As we watch our paper stocks dwindle because of their disconnect to the biotic stocks of forests, soils, and wildlife, maybe it is an opportune time to reexamine our assumptions which have ignored the limits of natural systems. The idea of an ever expanding economy within a biosphere of fixed size, according to author and physician Lewis Thomas, is “stupidity on the grandest scale.” It may be convenient and cathartic to blame the various wolves of our imagination for our fears, but only hearts transformed by a faith not in separation but as participation in the whole order of being will bring us peace.

Originally published in a Christian Vegetarian Association e-newsletter of February 15, 2009.

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