22 Aug 2014
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Modern Madness and the Mute Swan

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Mike Dougherty

For most of my writing career I've specialized in researching, writing about and occasionally investigating violent crime: serial killers, cult murderers, unsolved missing persons cases - that kinda business. But years of sifting through darkness and dwelling on its demons wears on the spirit some and more and more I have found myself setting those macabre mysteries aside for the living mysteries of the natural world.

I'm lucky enough to live only blocks away from my town's nature preserve and so I've gotten into the daily routine of going for walks there. It has a bike path that runs along a stream which at several points widens into a pond before thinning out to the bay. I usually bring a big cup of coffee and a plastic tipped cigar along and enjoy both while sitting on one of the benches that face the pond.

From this vantage point my mind wanders as freely as the stream and I think of many things. I often reminisce of my childhood - going for bike rides on the path with my family; ice skating and playing hockey on the pond; mischievous adventures in the woods with friends and girlfriends as a teenager. One winter evening I recall being of a certain mindset where the moonlit landscape became a netherworld in my mind and I was transfixed by the pond which had become a dark abyss; an entrance into the spirit realm and the swans upon it were silver dragons that guarded it.

Nowadays, I simply smoke my cigars and admire the swans' brilliant beauty in the sunlight and the pond is much less an abyss and more of a place to empty the mind. Here, there is peace.

But I'm a writer and the archetypal imagery has stayed with me. Jungian depth psychology tells us it's within the murky pool of the unconscious that the true transformative treasures of our psyche lie, waiting in the shadowy depths to be brought to the light of consciousness and reclaimed as indispensable tools toward our salvation; healing unifiers of our fragmented and forgotten selves. As a crime writer I've been peering down these dark portals of the mind for sometime now, ultimately trying to gain insight into the brutal tendencies and psychopathologies way too common throughout our culture – which, strangely enough, leads me back to the swans.

Just last week I opened the newspaper to learn that these swans are to be killed if the State goes ahead with its latest management plan. That's right. Every one of these beautiful creatures, the Mute Swan, are to be killed and eliminated from the landscape of New York State by 2025 if the plan goes into effect. When I read it I nearly fell off my chair.

What's the reasoning for this possible genocide? Well, the State's rationale for this falls mostly under the fact that the Mute Swan has been deemed an "invasive species"; in other words, in the eyes of the State, there are too many of them breeding successfully. I find this really rather absurd since I live where they say the most exist and have never come across so many where I would ever think anything except we're lucky to have the ones that we do. These magnificent symbols of peace who usually mate for life are one of the last remaining wildlife species able to thrive in these polluted waterways of ours; waters so contaminated the State warns against letting dogs near them because of the deadly bacteria they contain; waters that are actually most easily monitored by having an ideal sentinel species, like the Mute Swan, present for testing. And the state wants to kill them ALL!?!?!

It's modern madness...

I think the greatest treasure we've lost within the day-to-day modern struggle is our cultural appreciation and intimate individual connection to nature. And because of this loss, we've become very sick. The governing bodies in positions of power are now operating in our name with soul-less machination. We must reclaim them and right this ship. Humanity must come to terms with what it means to be part of the habitatic whole of creation and return to our indigenous roots as caretakers, rather than takers. We've fenced off the soul of the world too long not to have it push up its back on us; entombed ourselves too deep within the illusion of our own egoic expanses to see the light of our more authentic and divinely inspired being; handed our freedoms and the very heart of creation over to a State which has neither the intellect nor the moral impetus to guard its treasure because it only sees what it can subdue, conquer and kill.

The growing trend to use brutality and decimation toward any living being or thing it considers invasive is a symptom of this madness; a reflection of collective psychosis by powerful entities who, under the spell of the dollar sign, see demons in every tree and dragons on every waterway. This sickness embraces the use of mass killing and heavy handed chemical management as the only means for our survival when really it is the root cause of the vast environmental pathologies that so threaten us. We are stuck in a cycle of always masking and attacking the symptoms, rather than allowing for a cure. If we participate with nature, rather than demonize it; if we submit to its wisdom, meet it halfway and love it as we should, we will build up the health of the whole system and find balance for all its species. If we do not, we will suffer and perish for it.

Please sign the following petitions and write every politician on the planet to stop the senseless slaughter of the Mute Swan. Then go visit with the swans and encounter the great spirit within.




© 2014 Mike Dougherty

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