About halfway through my college career, I veered off the beaten path and took a sharp left. I made the radical decision to major in a field I would enjoy, but, quite possibly, not use. I skittered away from elementary education and scoffed the possibility of a life of mathematics and dove headfirst into anthropology. I am not a practicing anthropologist and there are not many direct correlations between my job and my degree; but with an ear-to-ear grin and dreamy memory, I have to say that, my years studying anthropology were some of the best of my life. The best.
The innumerable studies on honeybees and their behaviors got me to the place of having two hives in our backyard. And, the endless stream of information on different people, different societies and different histories all beg the question of “Why do we/you/me/everyone do what we do?” This very question is one of the reasons I firmly believe in stepping back before making a knee-jerk judgment or off-the-cuff comment. And, it is the basis for a creed I try to live by: “Whatever floats your boat”. Basically, I don’t know why people do some of the things they do and I probably wouldn’t do them myself, but hey – it’s your life to live. Live it.
So, there’s the personal foundation that this blog posting’s opinions and words are laid upon…
A few months ago, I watched a movie called “The Cove”. It won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2009 and was prominently featured in National Geographic with a horrifically graphic and mind-numbing spread. The movie looks at the dolphin hunt in Japan, with a particular focus on a hidden cove in Taiji, Japan. It examines the intersection of the extreme lengths that activists are going to in order to save these animals and the extreme lengths the hunters are going to in order to continue practicing their trade. Whether or not the practice is legal is fuzzy, at best, and involves a mind-boggling mishmash of mislabeled packages of meat, loose guidelines and corrupt politicians.
I tend to watch documentaries that have an activists’ agenda with a wary eye and perhaps that is why it took me so long to transfer these words from mind to computer screen.
At the center of this story is Richard O’Barry, the infamous dolphin trainer of Flipper. He is the renowned expert in the field of dolphin husbandry and expertly shares the behavioral, emotional, psychological and familial needs of the dolphin.
I urge you to watch this movie. It the most moving film I have watched since Food, Inc. and it created an unrest that made my stomach sink and my eyes flood with tears. As a mother, I will never forget the excruciatingly tormented cries of dolphins that were slaughtered in the same helpless waters as their children. I am stuck with the image of the blood red seas that were as vivid as a canvas of crimson tempera paint.
In an effort to step back into my anthropologic schooling and not make my knee-jerk judgment, I must say I am not shocked by the callous nature of these trappings, killings, packagings and the tunnel vision of its participants. This is taking place in a different country with a different culture, but it’s still our world – our home.
Whether you eat dolphin meat or not.
Or any kind of meat for that matter.
Whether you patronize Sea World or not.
Whether you swing to the left or the right of the political spectrum.
Whether your eyes are blue, brown or green.
Whether you are young or old, male or female, parent or not.
This is a movie you must watch. It will stimulate your mind, ask you to question anthropomorphism (attributing human traits to animals/non-living things) and different cultures and wonder: “Why do what we do what we do?”. And, perhaps, just maybe, it will provoke you into action.