(Artist credit: Morgansartworld @ Deviant Art)
Given all the discussion of late about cetacean rights and captivity, it brings to mind the hotly debated issue of whether this is really such a black and white matter. On one hand, some animal rights activists hold the view that you are either completely for animal rights (complete autonomy and anti captive for all species) or you can't truly claim to be for animal rights if you support places like zoos, safaris, and places like Sea World.
Personally, I think a lot of people are somewhere in the middle of this wide spectrum. Some, like me, hold the belief that there are certain species that simply do not belong in captivity. For example, whales, dolphins, sharks, lions, tigers, bears, elephants, etc. I'm also not a vegetarian. While I mostly avoid red meat and am not a big fan of sea food, I do eat turkey, chicken, ham, and enjoy hamburger now and then. Does this make me a hypocrite? I don't think so.
I don't personally judge those who are 100% or semi-vegetarian, and I certainly hope they don't judge me. But we're all human. We're all passionate about our beliefs and some of us view things in black and white and don't consider that so much of life, what we do, and who we are is constantly venturing into shades of gray or other colors. Some people are constantly evolving on these particular beliefs and some remain steadfast throughout their lives.
For me, what matters is akin to one of the greatest things about some Native American tribes that I have always respected. And that is to treat all living beings with respect, humanely, and sustainably. When they would, for example, kill buffalo or bears. they first thanked their spirits and the animal spirits for this gift. Then they would use 100% of the animal for their needs. Every piece of meat was used. Bones were used for tools, jewelry, etc. The fur was used for clothing, blankets, housing, etc. This, to me, is the greatest example of humans taking what they need, maximizing the hell out of it, and always always giving thanks for each and every single gift it bestows upon them individually and as a tribe. And when they didn't need anything, they left the animals alone, even communed and/or worked with them, and again always treated them with respect.
In modern times, sustainability seems to be a dirty word when it relates to the wildlife. Certain countries have zero qualms about killing, killing, and killing some more without regard for the increasing possibility that these very species are becoming endangered. Certain people refuse to take responsibility for causing the extinction of so many species. Certain people have the gall to blame the wildlife for their lack of food (IE: overfishing.) And certain people see wildlife as cash cows to satisfy their own greed.
We've got to get these laws changed. Education on sustainable practices, finding a balance, and living together in mutual harmony is paramount to just blindly killing thousands of sharks for their fins, slaughtering thousands of dolphins when fewer and fewer demand warrants it, and culling thousands of whales annually all in the name of so-called research. The hypocrisy is so obvious. Hardly anyone is buying it any more that it is necessary to engage in so much destruction against these species.
And more than that, we need to get past our egos and sense of superiority that humans are numero uno and to hell with everything else. Humans alone do not make this world go 'round. Every plant and every animal has a role in our large and diversified eco-system. Some are so highly crucial that to lose them would be catastrophic. We need the mentality that everything here is necessary for every one's survival, including the animals. I don't know why it's so hard for certain people to not understand that if we just practice sustainability and balance, Mother Earth's gifts would remain infinite.
What brought the topic of today's post to my mind was coming across this link: Irwin Family Plays at Dolphin Habitat. The late Steve Irwin was a big Sea Shepherd supporter. Frankly, it simply surprised me to read this because I figured this family was against captivity for cetaceans. Goes to show how much I know. I never followed Steven's Crocodile Hunters show nor really followed the news on this family much. So my ignorance here is showing. And I guess because they own a Zoo, then it really shouldn't shock me that they'd go see dolphins in captivity. Are they hypocrites? I don't know enough about the Irwin family to say. My knee jerk reaction without all the facts is to say yes, they are. They are profiting from their zoo, they spend money to see dolphins being held captive in the middle of the desert and seem to have no problem with that, and yet at the same time Terri Irwin claims to be a supporter of Sea Shepherd. I just don't see how this can go both ways at the same time. Maybe I'm being thick in the head. I welcome feedback and comments on this.
Steve's father moved on to focus on his own environmental endeavors. Currently, he's actively involved in saving the dugongs and turtles. I've been hearing remarkable things about this man and I get the sense he doesn't like the spotlight on him, only on his cause. Here's his link if you'd like to know more and would like to donate to his organization: Bob Irwin Wildlife Fund
I had a bunch of other things to say and share today, but I think I've gotten carried away enough for this post :-)
Let's all work on instilling and sharing some of these wise Native American sayings that to me, are even more profound in today's times:
When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
~ Cree Prophecy ~
Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.
~ Chief Seattle, 1854 ~