|Wednesday, December 29, 2010|
Line in the Sand
One of the most important questions you are asked before applying to become a Sea Shepherd crewmember is, "Would you risk your life to save the life of a whale (or any marine mammal or creature for the matter)," and surely if we weren't, then we wouldn't be on this ship today. People ask the same question of me on land and they seem so shocked by my answer, I see the same response all the time. What I find even more shocking is that there aren't many people out there willing to die for an animal or our environment, in fact most people aren’t actually willing to risk anything at all to save or protect anything but themselves. Risking your life is a very simple task; it's the long-term effort of not only protecting this planet but also ensuring the survival of an entire ecosystem that is the tough part.
I believe the more valuable questions to ask each other are: if faced with the information that your actions are destructive to the planet and life amongst it, what is the threshold in which you are willing to finally stop what you are doing and take a step towards fighting for something besides yourself? What is the threshold in which you will stop not only taking resources from this planet but you will choose to give back in some way or another? Is it the extinction of gray whales, river dolphins, great wandering albatross, Northern right whale, or manatees? This goes well beyond our oceans as well. How about the extinction of orangutans, gorillas, or polar bears? Where do you draw your line in the sand and do you even have one?
Every one of these creatures lived peaceful and fearless lives before this industrial fueled civilization of humans began tearing their world apart. Flocks of migrating sea birds were so abundant they turned the skies dark, whales filled the bays along the coast of Australia and the United states so dense you could hear singing and mating for miles, rivers overfilled with salmon as 40-pound females rub against your legs on their way upriver to spawn. These times are long over and this major loss brings me to the verge of tears every time I think about this. I feel disgusted, ashamed, and enraged to be a part of such a selfish and destructive species.
The oceans are dying because of the human race. This is blatantly clear. We are raping and stripping the sea of all life and the only things we're putting back into it is tons upon tons of trash, toxic waste, and chemicals every waking minute, hour, day, decade after decade. The oceans are being killed and it is due to a lack of people willing to sacrifice the luxuries and comforts that we so boldly take for granted. The oceans are being suffocated because humans choose to turn a blind eye and pretend they don't have a trace of blood on their hands, as if they are not responsible for the degradation of the sea. Again, I'll put this as simply as I can: if you aren't a part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. Every action has a reaction.
There are some seven billion people on this planet who are able to live comfortably due to the exploitation of this planet’s resources on a subtle but daily basis and at the end of their lives, the majority will have done nothing but take and take from this earth without ever once giving back. Humans will live out their lives without ever fighting for the continuation of a single species except themselves and when they die, what will their life be worth? If any one of the 90 crewmembers onboard these ships or myself were to die while protecting the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, well then our lives had a meaning. This is more than just hoping or wishing the whales will be safe, this is making darn sure these whales will survive. Out of seven billion people, there are at least 90 people from 22 different countries held together by a small non-profit organization willing to guard and protect this sanctuary, with every life and limb.
The ocean is dying not for us but because of us and I am not risking my life for my own personal comfort but for a better quality of life (not luxury) for future generations - future generations of sea mammals, fish, sharks, birds, and even future humans who are willing to make these same sacrifices at least once within their lifetime. If I knew that risking my life could in turn save the life of 1,035 great whales from receiving a 160-pound grenade-tipped harpoon from exploding in their backs at over 400 miles-per-hour, I'd make this sacrifice without any hesitation. At the end of the day, we are only 90 men and women aboard three ships. We are all that stands between life and death, and their survival for another year until we win this war for good. And rest assure, we will see this through.
One final question I would like to ask is: When the time has come for you to die and you look back on your life, will you be able to think of something you have accomplished in your lifetime that could significantly benefit the health of this planet for years to come?