The movie, The Cove, is a brilliant documentary telling the story of the much entrenched, yet universally hated, Japanese dolphin slaughter industry. Of those who’ve watched it, most people, at least temporarily, feel the urge to storm the Japanese embassies in protest, or donate their very existence to the preservation of Dolphins in their only natural habitat…..the wild.
Dolphins are smart, beautiful and whimsical. Humans, perhaps out of envy, perhaps deservedly, look up to dolphins. This is why the film tells of the “best” dolphins avoiding slaughter and being shipped to far-off dolphin parks, where humans can marvel at them, and for $119 USD, swim with them. Kiss them.
I watched the film this year with my family. The women cried and I beamed my manly rage of protest, my disgust in us… all of us humans. “Our social consciousness seems to be battling, and winning, against Darwin’s theories of evolution”….. I silently raged from my very comfortable, wealthy white-man pulpit, known as the leather recliner. Certainly we humans are better than this.
I confess to you, I am not.
I’ll start with the defense, and the crime will become obvious. I am want for nothing. I have wealth, health, a beautiful and loving spouse, and two daughters whom mean as much to me as oxygen. And not oxygen in it’s basic, keep you alive form, but that rarified hospital delivered oxygen, which practically gives you life.
So, I confess, I felt no option this morning but to treat my girls to the opportunity of swimming with the beautiful and whimsical caged dolphins of the Bahia Principe Resort. The girls laughed, smiled and marveled at such a decibel, I have neither regret nor guilty conscience. Truth is, when it really comes down to it, I’d probably slaughter a truckload of dolphins for them if it were necessary, assuming dolphins were portioned by the truckload. Thankfully it isn’t and they are not.
You could argue that the only principled stand on “captive dolphin experiences” is to boycott, shame, protest and embarrass them out of existence. That is perfectly reasonable and I would respect and listen to that.
I know, and would argue with you, that my girls might have been just as happy or happier to join me in protest instead. Creating an even stronger bond between father and daughter, one based on principled ideals and the best of humanity.
But we caved. We took the easy hit of happiness. $119 USD gave them instant gratification from the chance to experience what only a small percentage of humans get to do. $157 got the HD-DVD and 163 professionally shot images. (The dolphins are in the pool, but the sharks are trying to sell you pictures afterward).
I am no further along the evolutionary process than I was yesterday, and quite possibly I have gone backwards. But as I reflect on the big and small guilt, mistakes and missed opportunities which accumulate in one’s life… I am glad to have a family to share all of them with. Even if we are not perfect… we are not perfect together. Which I suppose is why you need a family in the first place.
Happy New Year… hug your kids, and donate to save the dolphins.