Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson
Practically all nations share in the human species’s strange and unreasonable passion for blood. We have evolved very little since the time of the Roman Colosseum and the gore-drenched circuses of slaughter. The killing carries on, justified by words like “tradition” and “culture.” These are two words that paint over the reality of the truth, which is simply barbarism, sadism and domination.
Humans generally love violence but refuse to admit it. We simply repress the lust overtly and indulge the lust subconsciously through mechanisms of denial and justifications, using words like “culture,” “tradition” or “lifestyle.” We love violent movies, violent games. We even love war, although people who have actually experienced it do not always feel that way.
Every year, 65 billion animals are raised in horrific conditions and slaughtered to feed 7.5 billion people – and if that is not enough, humanity has to abuse and torture hundreds of millions more for amusement, for sport, for research and for fun.
We kill animals because we consider them to be pests, because we are hungry, or because it is fun. We also kill people for amusement or because it’s fun, and for some, because they consider people to be pests. Humans generally love to kill. We have even dismissed the horrors of war with rosters of numbers. Numbers do not convey pain or empathy. Six million Jews died in the concentration camps. Six million is simply a meaningless number that does not convey the horrors experienced by each and every individual that suffered and died.
Six million Jews, 12 million Native Americans, two million Iraqis, 65 billion farm animals – all abstractions, all dry statistics, devoid of the experience of pain, and thus, conveniently placed outside our capacity for compassion. We care without really caring, we mourn without really mourning and we remember by forgetting.
The words “lest we forget” have been mouthed by people mindlessly since the Great War a century ago, but in reality the victims have been forgotten and only the abstraction of the ritual is remembered and regurgitated on cue on Memorial day or Remembrance Day because society expects us to do so. And we do so dutifully without passion or empathy.
Unfortunately I do not so easily forget the pain that I have witnessed. I still see the reflection of myself in the eye of a dying whale in the summer of 1975. I still see the bodies of baby seals strewn across the ice floes off Labrador. The visuals never leave the recollections of my mind, and thus the past is ever present; this unfortunately for me negates denial and justification.
I have always felt that life is sacred. I have never killed an animal, and in truth, I cannot comprehend the rationale of those who do. And yet my compassion is seen by the killers as wrong and thus I am called a psychopath, insensitive and an extremist by the killers simply because I refuse to accept their justifications for being who they are. Even my position of non-violence is denounced as being violent simply because I speak out against violence.
How can we who abhor killing and cruelty have a dialogue with those who inflict cruelty and pain? They see our empathy as insane. We see their cruelty as even more insane. The chasm between those who kill and those who refrain from killing is seemingly vast, like we are from two different planets or we are two different species of hominid.
We also divide ourselves by bits of colored cloth designed to make us believe that we are separate tribes, and that our own tribe is better than the other tribes despite the fact that usually the only reason we are in a particular tribe is simply the geographic coordinates of our birth. And even within these tribes we divide ourselves into bands based on religion, sports teams, or politics.
Often I am told that I should leave the Faroese or the Japanese alone and focus on my own country, but this is difficult to do when one does not recognize the abstraction of nations.
I am simply a North American by the nature of where I was born, but I am an Earthling by the nature of the fact I was born on planet Earth. When a person recognizes that the planet is our home, and not just some piece of land defined by artificially imposed boundaries, it is quite natural to be concerned about protecting life and nature on the entire globe and not just a tiny part of it.
And thus I have defended seals, whales, salmon, caribou, wolves and beavers in Canada where I was born, but I have also defended seals in Namibia, whales in Antarctica, dolphins in Japan, and sharks in the Indian Ocean.
I also recognize that there are non-human nations like the cetacean nation, the nation of fishes, and the nation and culture of millions of other species. No human nation has a right to impose lethal exploitation upon these other nations.
Our survival as a species depends upon the diversity of all species and our interdependence with all other species. We are not better than them; we are not superior. We are equally a part of the entire bio-sphere and not dominant over it.
Our perception of dominance, our self-defined arrogance, coupled with our incredibly willful ignorance of the laws of nature may be our undoing as a species.
I confess to passionate defense of non-humans from the cultural justifications for killing, but I dismiss any accusations of bigotry. I do not discriminate in my opposition to the culture of slaughter. My disdain for the Faroese slaughter of pilot whales, the Japanese slaughter of dolphins, the Canadian slaughter of baby seals, the Aboriginal slaughter of dugongs, the Makah Indian slaughter of grey whales, the Spanish perversion of bull-fighting or the ecological and ethical crimes of every nation are equal.
I have looked into the human heart of darkness and have seen no distinction between nations. I have seen distinction amongst individuals – and it is in the passion, courage, imagination and compassion of individuals that I see salvation for humanity and the promise of elimination of cultural and traditional justifications for the infliction of pain, suffering and death upon other sentient beings and upon other human beings with whom we share this planet.
I wrote a poem concerning the blood sports of a few nations. In every nation can be found a cultural justification for inflicting pain and death, and the nations in this poem are like all other nations and serve only as examples of the human affliction that is the source of so much pain and death around the world.
The United Nations of Human Cruelty
By Captain Paul Watson
Tie your kangaroos down, Mate
Slice off a piece for your plate,
Kill the sharks that you hate, Mate
Stick bleeding sheep in a crate.
Thugs with clubs upon the ice,
Stomping through nurseries, killing for Christ
The babies are alive when they slice,
Some people will do anything for a price.
Cruelty flourishes both in the West and the East,
Dogs boiled alive for festival feasts.
China is not safe for any type of beast,
Rhinos, elephants, bears, all deceased.
Try to save turtles and you may die,
In this nation so “green” you need not ask why.
To the slaughter of sharks simply turn a blind eye,
In Costa Rica, wildlife conservation is a lie.
Denmark and The Faroes:
They call this craven ritual the Grind,
A gift from some silly God, yet still a sin,
The screams of the whales, blood on their skin,
It’s what we do, they say with a grin.
Stuffing foul food down the throats of geese,
Forcing them to be sick and obese,
Will this obscene gluttony ever cease?
The consuming of diseased livers from geese deceased.
‘The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable,’ said Wilde
The bullsh*t justification ever higher gets piled,
The cruelty of cowards universally reviled,
Is this how British culture prefers to be styled?
*Fox hunting – presently illegal but the present government is working to legalize it once again.
Firing horrific harpoons with savage sadistic lust,
Iceland ignores the world’s increasing disgust,
At least, we turned two of their machines into rust,
As a nation they’ve lost the world’s compassionate trust.
Sadistic dolphin slayers turning the seas red,
Building a culture upon the corpses of the dead
Japanese slaughter is globally widespread,
The Oceans everywhere will soon be dead.
Baby seals vomit milk on the sand,
Rhinos, giraffes and lions are unsafe in this land,
Hunts come expensive or cheaply canned,
So much death by man’s bloody hand.
The taunting of the bulls is a sickness indeed.
The crowds do lust to see them bleed,
Within the hearts of men, is there a need?
For pain and death to justify their creed?
Concentration camps to churn out meat,
Gestation crates, ground up pigs to eat.
Ground water polluted by what they excrete,
Drinking the pus and blood that cows secrete.