I was always known as the animal kid. During show-and-tell during our elementary school years, I would invariably bring something related to animals, from a worn-down encyclopedia on reptiles to even once a colony of rollie pollies I raised in a jar (to the mixed horror and excitement from my peers and teachers). Since then, it has only grown deeper as I learn more about their challenges.
My interest has led me to many places across my community. Along with some peers, I participated in volunteer work across the Bay Area, from trash clean up in Half Moon Bay to planting trees in urban areas. One of my most poignant memories was when we witnessed a bird, rehabilitated after an injury, take to the skies again. The feeling of that moment, seeing a pure, unadulterated show of freedom, invoked within me a sense of wonder still lasts to this day.
As I start high school and cultivate my understanding of conservation, I begin to see more injured animals with less support and chances of rehabilitation. The scale of destruction happening worldwide right now isn’t on the individual scope; it’s on a communal scale where entire ecosystems are being destroyed. When I was younger, I would see almost everyone in my grade come to the aid of an injured bird on campus, but now, when it’s happening millions of times all across our planet, I see less and less regard for the environment.
I suspect it’s due to not truly feeling the impacts of such destruction. When an individual animal is injured in front of us, we can feel its pain, and a feeling of empathy is invoked within us, but when we are just told that the same thing is happening millions of miles away, the same sense of urgency is not present.
Daniel Kim (January, 2024)