Environment Magazine

Beautiful Justice: Prayers for Roadkill

Posted on the 16 January 2013 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal

Cross posted from Deep Green Resistance News Service

By Ben Barker / Deep Green Resistance Wisconsin

I don’t know how this opossum died. There were no predator marks on the body, and the middle of a highly frequented trail seems a peculiar place to make a death bed. Something forced this situation. Maybe it’s the poisons put on lawns, or the fact that this half-acre of trees is surrounded on all sides by cars and roads and houses. Opossums are indigenous to this land and under assault as surely as indigenous human cultures are. In the native Powhatan language, opossum is derived from the word apasum, which means “white animal.” They’ve long been the largest population of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere. But now, civilization encroaches upon the homes of all nonhumans, and opossums, despite adapting as scavengers, now struggle against a massive decrease in food and habitat.

The opossum deserved more. The passing of life into death deserves a deep respect and commemoration. There’s nothing so humbling. This is what is missing in the dominant culture, and what we all need to learn once again. If I could go back in time, and if I had the words, this is what I wish I had said.

Your life is not in vain. In all your time of living, you’ve contributed to the health and diversity of this place, and thus, to the health and diversity of the world. There are those of my species who not only fail to give back in this way, but actively destroy the world which gives them life. They are insane. They must be stopped. Your life, and all life, is sacred and infinitely more important than industrial civilization. I’m sorry that you had to live your final moments surrounded by this unnatural and immoral construct. I’m sorry that you did not get to properly say goodbye to this world. Your life is not in vain.

Here’s another story. My friend saw a deer who was hit so hard that he flew into another oncoming car. The impact literally tore his legs from his body. And yet another story: A doe stood on the side of the road mourning the body of her friend who had just been struck. This is their land. The roads and this civilization are ever-expanding—it’s a war, plain and simple. Just look on the side of the road. You’ll see.

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