Conservation conflict: ending the conflict. by Rob Yorke, The Field, April 23 2016.

All right, so what if this blog is at present mostly about Russian hunting whatever, that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in larger conversational issues – if only at the “hit the bloody repost button” level. So here goes:

Rob Yorke. Conversation Conflict: Ending the Conflict

Why am I reposting (all right, linking and commenting on) it?

Because I find it valuable, and yet – unfortunately – it doesn’t sound likely it will become “influential” in the modern understanding – that is, one that generates half a zillion likes, shares and comments. It is long, it is sophisticated, and it is difficult to read and to react to – mostly because it lacks the common key words and triggers to automated, ritualistic responses of the “Christ arizen! – Arizen indeed!” type. You know what I’m talking about. “Gun control” – “Stop school shootings” – “Out of my cold dead arms”, etc. etc. etc.

Ritualistic discourse is popular, because it is easy. You have your facts, opinions and definitions ready for you, like paintball ammunition – just throw a couple of handfuls into the gun and let loose – only mind that they’re the right color – until your opponents run for shelter, or you get disgusted with their lies, prejudices and insults they throw on you. But it’s not only about the ease. Once you’re engaged in this fight, it’s not just paintball – you get to envision yourself as a part of a large army of knights in shiny armor, fighting for the Holy Truth with the dirty horde of barbarians. This image boosts your self-esteem like nothing else.

Rob Yorke – following the line of thought of a book called Conflicts in Conservation: Navigating Towards Solutions (on my want to read list now) which he sort of reviews – wants you to dismount, take off that shiny armour, lay down your paintball gun and mix with the barbarians, actually listening to what they have to say and finding our what part of your lies, prejudices and insults you have to give up for mutual benefit.

All right, I’m eggagerating Yorke’s point here, but only to highlight the real reason why this article – and the views it expresses – may not find the support it deserves. The view in question is actually quite simple and reasonable: conservation is not a wildlife problem, it’s a people problem; all stakeholders must lay down their pride and egoism, get together, talk it over and find suitable compromize. Besides, Yorke doesn’t mean only you – he means “them”, too; “all of us”, to be exact. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hunter, urbanistic vegan or local farmer – when it comes to conservation, we’ve all got a shiny breastplate to remove.

Yet, these views are unlikely to find much support, or even generate much discussion. It is uncomfortable to stop being The Righteous Champion on a Last Stand Against Hell, and become a confused one in a crowd of diverse individuals on a sinking boat, whose survival depends on their ability to compromize on the right way to stop the leaks (which we all in fact are, even though we might hate to admit it). It is frightening to appear defenseless in front of a perceived enemy. It is difficult to question your own position, and find meaningful arguments instead of ready-made emotional responses. Few people will even get to read Yorke’s story to the end – the eye doesn’t catch on familiar triggers, the other side of being out of the box.

And this is a great pity.


2 thoughts on “Conservation conflict: ending the conflict. by Rob Yorke, The Field, April 23 2016.

  1. Thank you for taking the time to read and then post your own salient thoughts. We find it hard, if not well nigh impossible to face the mirror on these matters. It can be done, but only with strong government leadership (not from conservation non govt organisations NGOs) to knock heads together without anyone losing face…
    That’s the tough bit. As you’ve noted, it’s not natural science, it’s social science.
    Best wishes


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