The Fun Part:
Courtney has been spotted around town at various functions and events; as Vancouver Mermaid, she was the featured attraction at this protest which was for the release of the last orca (killer whale) in captivity at MarineLand in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Watching her interact with children, their parents, and others wanting to know what was going on was uplifting and encouraging.
The Serious Part:
I found myself drawn in by the energy and passion of the fifty volunteers/protesters that came out for this event on a glorious, sunny October Sunday.
This local event was in support of a larger group of protesters (100) at MarineLand in Niagara Falls, Canada, protesting the ongoing confinement and display (for entertainment purposes) of Kiska, an orca (killer whale) that has been alone in a small tank since November 2011.
HERE’S THE THING…
This was my first protest, as such I really wasn’t sure what to expect.
Often, when watching protesters on television I would find myself getting annoyed at the radicalism and the attempt, at all costs, to bring me on board. And, if one didn’t agree with "them" one might be inclined to feel they were being censured and stupefied.
So, I admit, I was a little leery when my daughter invited me along, more as her assistant, then an actual protester, to this event.
Initially, I served in my role as assistant to the mermaid, but in short order I found myself with brochures to hand out to passersby; which I enjoyed. I have long known I am a people person so this was not a stretch for me.
Well...the next thing I heard was a megaphone.
Many a voice found their way to it and expressed a concern, a passion, and even some anger. And yes, there were a few moments when I was uncomfortable with what I was hearing.
Not because it was bad, but because of the delivery.
It was then I wanted to “speak up” and address those folks, patiently waiting in line, over on the other side of the roadway, whose only intention, upon getting up that morning, was to have a “fun” outing with family and/or friends at the aquarium.
I took some time to reflect on what “we” as a group looked like from “over there” and what “we” must sound like. I thought of rallies and protests I had seen on television where I felt I was missing something...wondering what the heck those protesters where protesting about anyway.
I realized we were not giving the onlookers the bigger picture of what was going on in front of them.
So, I did what was logical to me, I engaged those onlookers by introducing “us” to them.
Who were we? Did they wonder this, I asked.
(a non-profit organization called No Whales In Captivity, started in 1992)
Why were we here? I thought they might like to know.
(to support the release of the last remaining orca in captivity in Canada)
What was our mission and what did we hope to accomplish?
(to educate; get signatures on petitions; and stop the import of more cetaceans to Canadian aquariums)
I let them know the literature we were handing out had facts that might intrigue them thus giving them questions to ask the staff, inside the aquarium.
I encouraged them, once inside, to note the state and size of the habitats of the captive cetaceans (marine mammals: whales, dolphins, porpoises).
Further, I let them know that each person out here, protesting, was doing so because they care about the welfare and well-being of marine mammals being held in captivity; that each of these protesters was in fact just like them, a compassionate free thinker who wants to do the right thing.
I closed with asking those waiting in line (the onlookers across the street) to really see what was there before them, in the aquarium, in particular the dolphin and beluga exhibits with their scheduled performances, and ask themselves this simple question: “Am I being entertained at the expense of another’s freedom?”
You know what was interesting - by taking this approach people paused and heard the message. Some even ventured "across the street" for literature, wanting more information before heading into the aquarium.
And that, my dear friends, was the icing on my “first protest” cake.
You see, I believe it isn’t my job to convince you to be a compassionate human - that’s for you and your conscience to figure out.
My job is to give you more than one path for your thoughts to travel on. The more info you can garner, the better you will be at drawing a conclusion, one that’s right for you because it’s yours.
I have a theory and it goes like this: No human has the right to tell another human what to think. Each of us has a brain, the trick is to be an independent thinker and use that brain rather than giving it over to someone else to do our thinking for us.
Each of you that frequents Pearson Report is encouraged to be a critical thinker and to draw your own conclusions, not only with what you read here, but with everything you read, hear and see. (taste and touch can be worked in here too)
I am the first to do a little research before spouting off and though I have strong opinions I afford everyone their own. I am a big fan of open dialogue. If in the end we agree to disagree, remember dialogue is the grease that keeps our mental cogs turning.
Never let your cogs seize up. Be open, be receptive, and most of all be in touch with your conscience - it will never steer you wrong.
For those wishing to delve a little deeper into cetaceans in captivity here are some links:
Theo has died. (Theodore the harbour porpoise rescued this summer close to Victoria, BC died at the Vancouver Aquarium)
No Whales In Captivity (facebook)
This problem is not unique to Canada, aquariums around the globe are big business. If you have an aquarium close to home I encourage you to do a little sleuthing, it's amazing what you'll find out.
Remember, knowledge is power, never miss an opportunity to power-up! (who's a gamer!!)
Okay, here it comes...a one question quiz: What is the moral of this post?