Saturday, 25 January 2014

What matters

When one gives oneself space to feel, in the middle of winter, I think one should be prepared for at least one existential crisis or really...what's the point? I say this with a smile on my face, honestly. Because I have felt, crawled and listened my way out of it. Or at least, to the edge.

One of my favourite qualities in humans is our ability to be empathic, sympathetic, aware of the suffering of others. Doesn't mean we always are those things but hey, the potential is there. Personally I'm not sure if I was born without much ability in that area and had to learn it, or perhaps I was born with too much and had to spend years in armour. Either way, I spent a goodly amount of my life at a distance from most things. Doesn't matter. I live here and now and here and now I feel it. I feel it, breathe it, carry it.

I work in an organisation whose reason for being is to bring safety and freedom to cetaceans (whales, dolphins, porpoises). We work with the knowledge - proven - that cetaceans are people too and as unpopular and inflammatory as it may be to say so we exploit them in ways that amount to slavery - for the entertainment (ha) industry - and inflict unimaginable suffering on them with hunting, killing and capture. We all know better these days and we should do better.

Every day I see reports and evidence of this suffering, fully aware that it's not limited to cetaceans but also inflicted on humans and all other beings, from the smallest insect to the whole 'planet entity'. Most days I maintain a healthy barrier that enables me to cope because you can't unknow these things. You have to be able to carry them inside you and deal. Or you can't help.

Then this happened. And everything fell apart.

My initial despair and horror were joined by a loss of faith in the organisation I've worked for for nearly 12 years. It felt as if nothing has changed. We, and other like-minded NGOs, have raised millions of pounds and many thousands of signatures to petitions in (and before) those years and yet nothing has changed. So I ran the whole length of the 'what is the point of us?' marathon.

That widened out into 'what is the point of us? - the human race edition'. And then focused in sharply onto 'what is the point of me?'.

I'm not going to drag you through the details of how I managed to move forward from that low point but I have. And I am left with this: the white dolphin calf who was kidnapped for money is not going to live for very long in a concrete tank. Imagine tearing a human child from his mother and locking him in a small, empty, brightly lit cupboard. She, as an albino, is likely to be visually and hearing impaired. Her isolation will be so utterly absolute that she will give up. Babies do. My knowledge of Chinese orphanages showed me that.

Nothing that you or I can think or rationalise or believe or tolerate will ever, ever make that right. And it's happening to some being, somewhere, many times a day. Even the deep sand we bury our heads in is blood-tainted and you may not like reading that but tough...it's true.

But that is not all. It is nowhere near all. Because this dark shadow side of life is what fuels the good. The ferocity with which we reject it can propel us as individuals and as a race and as spiritual beings, to better things. To compassion and love.

This little calf changed me, almost at a DNA level. She did it. And I'm certain she has done the same for many others all over the world thanks to the magic of technology. Her life mattered. I will never forget her.

There is no tidy 'and the moral of this tale is' ending to this blog post any more than there is to anything. This is the human experience and we are not in possession of total understanding because if we were happy and content all the time we would simply dissolve into nothingness. That is not what this life is for. I believe this life, these lives, are for powering up the dynamo that is LIFE. We all spend time, maybe many times, here at the coal face. It's hard work, even - to continue the metaphor - for those of us fortunate enough to have desk jobs, but the rewards are apparent when you're open to love and beauty and truth.

We have two ways to get our work done here. One is to work against the darkness and the horror, charging that dynamo. The other is to fill the universal vessel of love with any love we can generate. Like little worker bees, we put love into the world and make it available to Source. I choose to do both.

We must do work that matters. We can't, as Mother Theresa said, all do 'great things' but we can do 'small things with great love'. That is work that matters.

Please consider reading and signing this if you haven't already. And find something to fight. Thank you.


(c) seashepherd.org





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