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When I was a boy, I fished fresh water lakes and streams, and Chesapeake Bay, on family trips. The objective was always to nab and prepare fresh for eating whatever was biting. Later I wanted to pass on my modest wisdom to my 5-year-old daughter. We rowed away from pier at first light in a rowboat on a northern Vermont lake, heading for open water. After an hour of dropping baited hook with no results, she looked at me and said, "Daddy, the fish are over by those reeds." With nothing to lose, I rowed about 30 yard to where she had pointed, and to my delight we began reeling in bream. When we had enough to make dinner, we thanked the lake, the fish, and God.
Last month, fishing at the edge of a man-made pond as part of a catch-and-release recreational program with a group of other Vietnam war veterans, I quickly grew queasy at the damage the hooks were doing in this "harmless" entertainment, and stopped baiting. It seemed every bit as relaxing and meditative to simply sit there.
It seems there is some profound, unwritten "covenant" we have with other life forms. I can feel the breaching, the mindless tearing of this covenant exclusively by too many members of our species. We can feel, if we pay attention, the price we are paying, personally and collectively.