Today I signed an online petition that will attempt to persuade the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands to ban 'Grindadrap'. If you're not familiar with it, it's an annually observed and ancient Faroe Islands ritual involving the slaughter of hundreds of Pilot Whales by driving them to coastal water then dragging them onto beaches using gaff hooks, where they are frenziedly stabbed by the local population, and lie screaming in agony before they die a slow and appalling death.
You may well wonder why?
If the Pilot Whales posed a threat to the Iives of the Faroe Islanders, this action might be understandable. They don't. (They neither carry weapons nor carry out random, unjustified attacks.)
If the Faroe Islanders ate whale meat, this might be comprehensible. They don't. (The meat is inedible for reasons explained below, and although the Faroes is a fishing community, a great deal of their food is shipped in from mainland Denmark.)
If the Pilot Whales threatened the Islander's livelihoods or food supply by depleting fish stocks, it may be possible to empathise with them. They don't. (Pilot Whales primarily eat squid, not fish. The waters around the Faroes are not replete with either thanks to massive overfishing by humans which resulted in a collapse of the fishing industry in the 1990's.)
So why does this happen?
Because its tradition.
Doesn't that make you sick? The legitimacy for doing something that's barbaric, obscene, cruel, merciless, heartless, vicious, pointless and mindless, to say nothing of totally unnecessary, is "Because we've always done it".
Actions such as this are worthy of primitives who know no better. In this age there can be no justification for perpetrating acts as dreadful as this one (although it is of course mirrored by a similar orgy of bloodshed performed upon the dolphin population in Japan each year). But the bigger tragedy from a human perspective is that when we allow something as ghastly as this to continue, we endanger the wellbeing of the whole population, now, in our lifetimes.
They are utterly munificent in their choice of action. Their presence is essential. Their positive effect may be observed, ironically, in the fact that so many of their dead bodies are discovered to have absorbed ridiculous levels of mercury, rendering their flesh inedible. Were this not to be the case, the oceans would already be the equivalent of a toxic and deadly moat that imprisoned land masses. When we harm whales we directly harm ourselves. Like bees, if they go, so do we.
I invite everyone reading this to sign the petition calling for a ban. (There's a link at the bottom of this blog.) It may have little effect on the hardened Faroe Islanders who will doubtless call upon their 'rich cultural heritage' as an excuse to slaughter and destroy gentle, harmless and wholly benevolent creatures. But as I have asserted before, to say nothing and to do nothing stops nothing.
There are many things that we do because we have always done them. For individuals this is an issue of ingrained habits that may be broken with relative ease through choice. Societies' evils do not exist independently and are only present because of the actions or inactions of its members. If you do not start to count yourselves amongst those who seek to be part of the solution to the many ills and cruelties that are a testament to our sadly noxious presence on this planet, you are simply part of the problem. It is time to change your mindset and own your role in bringing about healing. It cannot happen without you.