Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages. ~Thomas A. Edison
The scene was beautiful, perhaps a bit too beautiful…
… and for some reason when encountered with such beautiful scenery people feel compelled to do otherwise ridiculous things. Some choose to drink neon colored drinks and yell vulgar things at strangers until they’re taken away by Mexican police, some choose to buy giant sombreros & T-shirts that say things like, “I’m in Cancun, bitch!,” and others still choose to get tattooes of their new favorite animal, the chihuahua, on their calves
…this isn’t a piece about any of those ridiculous actions though. This is a piece about convictions, persistance, dolphins, the mafia and standing up for what you believe in.
Sure. Sure. Wait. What?
“Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.” ~Schopenhauer
She hails from Europe, but has been living in Mexico for quite some time now. She’s been a vegan for 15 years, and despite her thin frame one would never mistake her for weak. Unwaivering convictons if I’ve ever seen them.
“I think that once we started enslaving and domesitcating animals, we lost our humanity and gained the ability to enslave and domesticate one another,” she said calmly.
I poured more cream in my coffee, and nodded in agreement. How could I argue with that? I could do mental backflips to try to counter her logic. Perhaps we were enslaving people before we ever domesticated animals? Or maybe they’re not related events in human history? I couldn’t really say that though, they were related, in the very least symbolically. The way we are able to treat animals extends into the way we are able to treat humans. Fine. Agreed.
She was able to translate, practically seamlessly, her morals into action. The volunteer work she chooses to engage in while abroad was an extension of her life long convictions– in a super top secret exciting Charlie’s Angels kinda way.
The indifference, callousness and contempt that so many people exhibit toward animals is evil first because it results in great suffering in animals, and second because it results in an incalculably great impoverishment of the human spirit. ~Ashley Montague
I did say that this wasn’t a piece about ridiculous things that people do in beautiful exotic lugars, but really, it is.
This is a piece about people that swim with dolphins. Ever since Flipper stole the hearts of boob tubers everywhere there has been an explosion of people fascinated with dolphins, and with this fascisnation comes the desire to pet them & swim with them, possess them & contain them. And like anything else that people with money want, an entire industry is built around it. In this case it’s dolphinariums. Yes ma’am, that’s aquariums for dolphins.
Dolphinariums and the surrounding dolphin industry can easily be construed as animal abuse. In the wild, most dolphins swim hundreds of miles per day, don’t have a 9 to 5 job, and can live out their full life spans. In captivity, these intelligent creatures are relegated to stressful lives that lead to aggression, sickness and even death.
Unfortunately, dolphinariums are everywhere in the Yucatán peninsula. There are happy-go-lucky advertisements in hostels, at restaurants and on billboards inticing people to dive right in. Most people, I imagine, wouldn’t think twice about snatching up the opportunity to swim with their favourite sea creature during their Carribean vacation getaway. However, in reality, doing so only further contributes to their capture, trade, abuse & enslavement. How’s that for your love of dolphins, hot shot?
Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace. ~Albert Schweitzer, The Philosophy of Civilization
My friend, whom I had met earlier on my Mexican adventure, we’ll call her Sandy, has been spending her time in this world famous tropical paradise a little differently. Instead of sunning on the beach, she has been spending much of her time sneaking into dolphinariums, filming how the dolphins are treated, tricking people into telling her where they got them, and uploading her findings to the internet, where we can only assume her proverbial “Charlie” resides.
During my visit, she was doing all this AND working on the final report that she was to send off to the non-profit that supports her.
I bumbled into the Carribean during the high point of her investigation.
Now, not everything that she does is exactly legal. A little trespassing here, some illegal filming there, she could get in a lot of trouble for some of the things that she does, be it with the government or with the mob that controls much of the dolphin trade in the area. This means that I am not able to support & write about her volunteer work in the traditional way.
I will have to be a bit more discrete than that.
It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. ~Voltaire
So yes, I wish I could tell you everything about how to get involved as a dolphin mafia chasing badass, and such, but I can’t. In order to protect the identity of the volunteers and the project, I can’t really divulge such informations on the world wide web, and as I spent more time with Sandy, it became clear that this volunteer project is not exactly for the weak willed.
Sandy is a self starter that sought out an organization in her area working in an area that was close to her heart. She dedicated her free time to the cause, and is working deligently towards the completion of a perscribed tangible goal. She is lucky enough to receive support from an umbrella organization to help pay for her travel & expenses, but she does occasionally have to delve into her own resources to continue the investigation. Such is the sacrifice of a dedicated individual.
It would be possible, I suppose, for such an effort to be self-funded, executed & broadcasted, with the right kind of volunteer(s). Such projects are happening all over the world for different sorts of environmental and human & animal rights causes. Exposing injustice is a dangerous job. I would classify this sort of volunteer work as a form of “activism”, she would call it “agitation.” I think it’s irrelevant what we call it, it’s unpaid labor working towards a positive end aka. volunteer work.
She’s an inspiration, pure & simple. A radical volunteer if I’ve ever seen one. Very impressive, Sandy, very impressive indeed.