As a daily cyclist into downtown New Haven (I drive a car, but not that often) I have my own issues with motorists, where I sometimes feel like roadkill-in-the-making, but to see these beautiful animals just flattened, block after block, is heartbreaking and maddening. Whenever my indoor cat sneaks out I picture her being flattened, too, although with their nine lives, I haven’t seen many dead cats on the road.
Then today as I was riding down the curvy road from the top of East Rock, partially braking, I came within a whisker of killing a chipmunk myself, so I have to take responsibility, too (although in fact he escaped).
I’ve never considered myself an animal rights activist, although as a mostly vegetarian for the past 40 years, and a strict vegetarian for the past 20, at least I don’t eat them. My philosophy is live and let live, unless they actually land on me, like mosquitos or ticks.
I still remember the sermon of a ministerial student at my church about 25 years ago. She told the story of driving cross-country and stopping to move off the highway every road-killed animal she encountered, as a gesture of respect for all life. Whether apocryphal or not, it obviously made a big impression on me.
I’m a Unitarian Universalist, and I coincidentally just noticed an ad in our quarterly magazine that asked “What if our first principle could be…The inherent worth and dignity of every being? The wording currently says, “The inherent worth and dignity of every person.” The group, the First Principle Project, is seeking a bylaw change to their proposed wording. The ad goes on to say that it’s not just a bylaw change, “it is a deepening of faith and relationships through conversations with each other when we ask: How can we live more deeply connected to all life? What does it mean to be a human animal in a muiltispecies world? How can we love both human nature and all of nature?" So…non-carnivorous food for thought.
You know how once you start picking up litter you notice litter everywhere and it’s hard to stop? That’s how I feel about road kill now. Although I haven’t moved every dead animal out of the road, I’ve started taking photos of them. The one above is a beautiful skunk killed right near my house (the one below is a baby woodchuck). Yes, it stank, but so does the whole idea that killing all these four-leggeds is not a crime.