“We must educate the heart before we can educate the mind”
I heard this quote from a school principal the other night on NBC news, and it is so very true.
In working with conservation groups whose main goals are to educate the public on animal cruelty, animal welfare, and related issues of climate change and environmental conservation, I have noticed a few things.
First, people want these issues to be salient to them. People want to understand why they should care, as these issues do not appear to affect them or their lives directly; after all, we are not even talking about humans!
Every day, people worry about jobs, money, food, food security, their children, safety, and a host of other personal issues. Which begs the question, where do animals fit in?
Why should people care that dolphins are slaughtered in Japan or the Faroe Islands? Why should people care that the Vaquita porpoise is on the verge of extinction? Why should people care if elephant populations are poached to obliteration? Why should they care about animals being treated as non-human persons, with non-human person rights?
I’d like to say I hear these questions too often; but, the fact of the matter is, I almost never hear these questions. These issues are not on most peoples’ minds! Therein lies the rub.
We all (animals included) come from the same genetic material. We all derive from a common ancestry. We all depend on oxygen, water, food, blood, neurons, and muscles for survival. We all have emotions, feelings, and awareness.
Just look at your dog! I bet you would agree that your dog feels sad or lonely when you leave the house. That your dog feels happy or elated when you return. That your dog gets scared when there is thunder, and protective when there is an intruder. I bet you would even agree that your dog actively decides to lay at your feet one moment and across the room at another.
The thing is, all of us, animals, people, microbes, make up the fabric of life on this earth. We are all interrelated, intermingled, part of the bigger scheme, and what affects one species, directly or indirectly affects another.
We know from "unintentional experiments," that removing an apex predator, for example the wolves of Yellowstone, negatively affects the entire ecosystem. We know that when the wolves were all killed or physically removed, the herbivores overpopulated, destroyed the landscape, shifted ecosystems, and even starved to death. We also know that when wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone, many, if not all of these problems resolved.
The way that humans destroy habitat all over the world, including ocean habitat, and murder or remove all apex predators for “food” or "entertainment" in amusement parks, has damaging repercussions on the well-being of the entire habitable ecosystem we call Earth
When astronauts spend time on the international space station (ISS), they begin to understand just how critical their support systems, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, temperatures, and water are. Some have noted just how small Earth is from a window of the ISS, and many if not all have noted how we need to understand and fully appreciate the ONLY life-support system we have here on our ONLY home, Earth.
Too many of us take for granted the synergy of all species.
When politicians outright deny climate change, call it a hoax, or condone the capture and brutal murders of sentient animals, believing we are "better" or "more evolved" then they are, I become terrified for my son's generation.
A very tiny percentage of humans attack and kill Earth's biosphere and life. But, this tiny percentage is doing a LOT of damage, and they do it at the expense of our children, and any possible future generations.
It is so unjust and so selfish of humans to “blame” dolphins, whales, or even sharks for “stealing” their fish. These predators are not the problem. They give so much more back to the oceans than they take from them. They oxygenate the oceans, fertilize them, and regulate them.
No, we need to look in the mirror. It is humans who are decimating the oceans of their fish, who are starving the dolphins and whales of their food. Without them, our oceans will die. Without them, we will die.
I believe that animals, and particularly dolphins, elephants, whales, and chimpanzees, among many others, are non-human persons who have rights.
These rights include freedom from harm, freedom from fear, and freedom to be. These rights include sovereignty over their own lives and sovereignty over their own choices.
We are encroaching on these rights. Taiji, Japan, the Faroe Islands, Norway, and Iceland are just a handful of places where marine mammals are murdered or destroyed, and where their rights are violated.
Canada too is responsible for one of the largest marine-mammal murders in the world, baby seals. And several African nations along with China, and even the United States are responsible for some of the largest slaughters and trade in elephant-tooth (ivory) globally.
Our destruction plays out in every arc of the earth, not just the four corners. It needs to stop. But, for that to happen, this information must first enter your heart if there is ever a hope that it will enter your mind.
It's important to see the images of stolen and murdered dolphins, stolen and murdered elephants, stolen and murdered seals. These images are their last surviving story, their legacy. It is time to start paying attention.
You can help Dolphin Project Cove Monitors and Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians
For more information: In Taiji, it’s OK to kill a whale, but touch is a twig, end up in jail.
Planet Experts: http://www.planetexperts.com/author/danahunnes/
Follow Dana Ellis Hunnes on Twitter: www.twitter.com/recipe4survivaY