On March 20th the last male northern white rhino has died after health complications, leaving only 2 animals alive; a story that many if not most people will miss or perhaps dismiss. However, to do so is a mistake: a mistake that we will unfortunately continue to make. The reason that there are only two of these magnificent animals left is simple: human beings. This simple fact is sad, yes, but it is also disconcerting.
For so many people an animal, far from their reality, that dies is a news item and nothing else. Their families, their jobs, their lives take precedence over the importance of a single rhino that dies thousands of miles away. But this death is important to us as a species: it represents our disregard for those around us and the world in which we live.
With the passing of the last white rhino, our world becomes a little less interesting, and much less diverse. The world that we live in becomes smaller as our understanding becomes more narrowly focused. Selfishness is not a virtue that we can count upon to survive; human beings are not the center, focal point of all things. And so as another animal dies due to human action, this lesson becomes more important.
But how can we take into consideration an animal that dies thousands of miles outside of our perspective when we cannot take into consideration those around us, those outside of our own families? This is, of course, a rhetorical question. To say that our families must always take precedence over all things is not enough. The kind of life we want our families to have is directly correlated to the kind of life we want everyone and everything to have and so as the world becomes a poorer place the quality of life is diminished; it goes quietly.
Our decisions cannot in any moral sense be limited to our own narrow perspective; easy is not an option. Somehow we must realize that it is not the quantity but the quality of life that matters. Until this sense of virtue is understood there will always be a last man standing as the world putters by.