Saturday, November 3, 2007

Reincarnate


I know I'm deviating from my usual subject, but I feel I have to address this issue. Think hypothetically here for a second: when you're surrounded by maneating sharks and facing your worst doom, who're you going to call? A dolphin! But these peaceful sea-creatures may not be as inclined to save us humans anymore.... Today on the Yahoo homepage, I saw the video about Heroes actress Hayden Panettierre and a group of activists trying to stop a Japanese dolphin hunt, an apparent custom in that region. Usually I can lay things like this to rest or put it on the backburner, but I can't in any way do that today. I had no idea people hunted dolphins, and I find it disgusting and horrifying. In the world we live in today where animal cruelty is against the principles of most worldly cultures, this crosses the line. Dolphins are harmless and even helpful creatures. No one has any right to slaughter them (40,000 a year!!!) no matter the profit or custom. From what I could tell from the video, apparently there is no law against these hunts in Japanese waters though most whales are. Panettierre's plea includes the protest against the slaying of a baby dolphin which she and fellow activists witnessed and which The Associated Press caught on film. When trying to rescue the dolphins, members of Panettierre's group, including the television actress, were brusquely shoved aside with a pole. Supporters of the hunt say of the activists, "Outsiders have no business interfering." I find it astounding that those in the U.S. with the right authority haven't tried to do anything about this, especially after their outward, angry protest against China's hostility toward the exiled Dalai Lama, which severely damaged U.S./China relations. I hope I'm not the only one who thinks this senseless slaughter must stop regardless of Japan's tradition. For a culture idolized for intelligence, taste, and modernity, the world should be severely disappointed in those who participate or support the dolphin hunt. For me, it certainly takes the shine out of Japan's bright international image. Thank you to Hayden Panettierre, other activists and advocates, and The Associated Press (whose video of Panettierre was featured on the Yahoo homepage) for bringing this shocking issue to the forefront. It has to be addressed and it has to stop now. Dolphins are like dogs: they have an uncanny connection to humans. They are man's best flipper-friends. No doubt, we've all heard miraculous stories of dolphins rescuing humans from sharks and even drowning. Ancient lore suggests dolphins are the reincarination of men lost at sea. Maybe it's the romantic in me speaking again, but this myth doesn't seem far off. We co-exist with all manner of creatures here in our minute pinprick of the universe. Maybe because of dolphins' fascinating humanity, these brutal hunts anger me as much as a certain NFL player's dogfighting controversy. Both carry identical, sickening weight and messages: the degree of humanity in people continues to tilt downward at an alarming rate. When will it stop? When we wake up one day and come to the alarming conclusion that animals have more compassion than us? "We're in danger of losing too much that is good as it is." In The Queen, this line refers to Britain's welfare at the prospect of modernization; namely Tony Blair's reign of change. But I don't think it would be a stretch to extend the significance of these words in an international sense. I'm not in any way sad about change or modernity (though sometimes the world seems to be evolving at such a frightening pace I brace for cultural whiplash). I do, however, mourn the death of compassion which was one of few things which separated us from the animals.

*Watch the video:
**My husband and I went to the movies this weekend to see The Bee Movie. I didn't expect to like it. Animated movies for me in the last several years have taken a steep downward spiral. It wasn't as funny as I expected a Jerry Seinfeld project to be, but the message was so priceless and it fits right along with the message of this post. I walked away very satisfied because the movie had the kind of substance kids and adults alike need to delve into at regular intervals to keep us all in touch with what matters most!!!

No comments: