Respect, restore and protect America’s endangered wildlife.

When a Republican president and a Democratic Congress established the Endangered Species Act in 1973, they did something very special: Together, they acknowledged that human beings have a sacred responsibility to Mother Earth and to all of Creation, including the vital, amazing and beautiful wild beings with whom we share this country and this planet.

It is a genuine sign of a maturing people and country that the native animals are respected and accorded a right to live and thrive in what is also their homeland. There is an ecological, ethical and spiritual dimension to honoring and protecting native wildlife.

Science has demonstrated unequivocally that every living thing has a purpose: Bees pollinate plants and flowers, wolves and wildcats and other natural predators keep prey species healthy and in check, sharks keep our oceans vigorous and resilient, bats devour insects and control their numbers, beavers build dams and create wetland habitat where other animals can thrive and on and on. Earth is like a giant jigsaw puzzle and all the parts are vital and needed.

And every year there is more research that reveals the amazing intelligence, social connections and emotions that so many animals share with humans.

Animals are not things, they are living beings with lives and connections of their own.

Instead of demonizing, persecuting and destroying this continent’s precious wildlife and natural heritage at the altar of divisive politics, greed, ignorance and nastiness, it is time to return to the spirit and mission of the Endangered Species Act.

With regard to America’s native wildlife and the wild places they need to live and thrive, it is time for decency, respect and co-existence to be the new American way and to stay true to that life-affirming mission.

Robert Goldman