Tuesday, 20 November 2012

#Taiji or Head in the Sand

The first person to put about the story that ostriches bury their heads in the sand to avoid thinking about "bad stuff" was Gaius Plinius Secundus, better known as Pliny the Elder, just over 2,000 years ago.

I can't help wondering if any of my throwaway comments in here will be the stuff of urban legend in the year 4,012? Unfortunately though, the uncomfortable secondary thought to that is what will human society 2,000 years from now think about all of us. Will human society even still exist? Is it our responsibility to ensure that it does or should we just stick our collective heads in the sand about that one as well?

Just in case anyone doesn't yet know, ostriches don't actually bury their heads in the sand, certainly not as a defensive mechanism anyway, but the metaphor is still nevertheless a good one. Here's the funny thing though, it is such a negative accusation that we all think it applies to everyone else, never to us. And yet, so many of us bury our heads in the sand in so many ways so much of the time.

We refuse to acknowledge danger to ourselves. Or perhaps that is just a refusal to acknowledge that our actions will have consequences.

We refuse to acknowledge harm to others. That is clearly a case of acknowledging that our inactions will have consequences. Consequences we would not like to be publicly responsible for and so we - as a species - seem to find it ridiculously easy to practice denial as a way of life rather than a very occasional, easily explainable anomaly. For far too many of us it is the rule, not the exception.

Stop reading now if you think that might apply to you!

The two BIG "hiding our heads in the sand" actions though relate to fooling ourselves about what or who we are. Convincing ourselves that we care but being unable to explain why, if we really do care, we have done nothing to help change the problem. Perhaps even when we clearly have either the physical means to do so ourselves or the financial means to help others do it for us.

But we still tell other people that we "care" even as we tell ourselves, convince ourselves, completely fool ourselves, that we are something we are not. Something better than we really are. Awarding ourselves private accolades that we would find damn near impossible to justify to an informed outsider.

I used to do that. My ability to effect change - or enable others to do so - used to vastly outstrip my genuine desire to do so, even as I preached to others what a better world it would be if only "they" would do something about [insert cause célèbre here]. It took me a long time to work out that I was one of "they" and so I hope in reading this you are now starting to work out that you are also one of "they" a good deal faster than I did.

Let me get back to head in the sand and the 2 big ones.  They are:

Refusing to accept that if we have the ability to stop that harm and/or the means to support others in doing so that we have at least a moral obligation to take action.


Refusing even to talk abut it because we find it all too upsetting and then going for a drink to cheer ourselves up / blot out the mental images whilst ignoring the fact that booze money could have been better spent on positive action to stop you ever having to worry about those mental images again. Alcohol has been described as "temporary suicide" and I more and more understand that description.

Let me talk to you about Taiji.

Taiji is a coastal village in a beautiful part of Japan, a tourist destination similar to many coastal villages the World over, including my own native Scotland. Taiji has a strong connection to historical whaling. It even has a whaling museum for visitors to spend their money in. Hey, I'm not going to criticise that, I've already visited the whaling museum in Boston, MA.

What I am going to criticise is that, whilst whaling is considered reprehensible in Boston, in Scotland and everywhere else where people consider themselves civilised, they still murder whales in Taiji. Smaller whales than they murder in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary but whales nonetheless. And dolphins. Dolphins by the thousand. I am not exaggerating, many thousands of dolphins have lost their lives in Taiji's killing cove in the last few years alone.

Risso's Dolphin - Mother and Child
Picture Credit Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit, Scotland
Yesterday morning, the evil fishermen of that region (evil because I must differentiate the tiny minority of whale killers from the vast majority of wonderful, friendly, decent Japanese people who themselves would be disgusted by this if only they knew) herded a family of Risso's Dolphins into the killing cove and slaughtered every single one.

I do find it very hard to type about this story. I do find it very hard to contemplate how a fellow human being could harm such wonderful animals. I find it even harder to understand why it is only 30 or so evil people doing this but many millions of others who are aware it is happening and choose to bury their heads in the sand about it. Oh, they may wring their hands in an outward display of angst, they may post message after message after message on facebook or sign yet another petition which will achieve the same result as all the others before (if you do the same as you have always done how can you possibly expect different results!) but they are not actually DOING anything about it.

Risso's Dolphins Slaughter, Taiji 19th November 2012
See full Cove Guardian picture file here LINK
A few. A very tiny few have either gone to Taiji already, are going in the very near future or have donated money to help someone else get there. I suspect that tiny few are very definitely amongst those who have read this far in today's blog and so I thank you from the heart. For those who have yet to DO something please listen to my earnest call to action.

I am going to Taiji. I am also donating to help others go. I am doing so because I am sick and tired of feeling totally helpless when I see images like this. I need you to do your bit as well.

If you are determined to go then you already know how, if you don't then message me and I will give you all the extra info you need.

If you cannot go for whatever reason then please can you help? I am okay thanks, I do have the means to get myself there, but I need help for another soon to be Cove Guardian, Anna. She has already committed so much for the defense of our wonderful ocean wildlife, please will you follow her link and commit even just a few dollars more to make sure you can tell the World that you did not stick your head in the sand, that when it mattered, you stuck your hand in your pocket and made a difference.

Anna's Taiji campaign link is here: CLICK TO READ ANNA'S STORY AND DONATE

Thank you for reading.