Active Nonviolence, Southern Ocean Style…
We live in an age of holistic knowledge. We live in an age where we increasingly see Planet Earth, or more specifically, all the biological organisms that live on it, and their respective environments, as interdependent.
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We have come to realize how fragile our Planet can be. With the current rate of ‘extinction of species’ vs ‘new species’, this Earth will be a barren landscape in under 1000 years. We know this must be reversed. While Climate Change is the main concern now and rightfully so, people are fighting daily against the direct impact of consumerism and mindless economics upon the Environment. Since the 1960s we have seen thousands of grass-roots organizations influence Government policy and legislation, but still there remains a real need to defend the Environment.
Indeed, the Environmental Movement has emerged as the largest ‘alternative’ political force in many western Nations and indeed, the ‘Greens’ Party has held Seats in Australian Parliament for some time now.
Right now, Sea Shepherd Australia is running its first annual campaign defending the whale populations of the Southern Oceans from the Japanese Government. Previously controlled by the US based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, the fleet has been forced to change its ‘control’ to Australia by continued litigation by Japan in the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Kozinski said Japan’s ‘researchers’ were authorised to conduct their Antarctic activities by permit under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling – “Nonetheless, it (Japan) has been hounded on the high seas for years by a group calling itself Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) and its eccentric founder, Paul Watson”. The judgement continues with accusations of Piracy upon Sea Shepherd – “The activities that Cetacean alleges Sea Shepherd has engaged in are clear instances of violent acts for private ends, the very embodiment of piracy”
Nonetheless, I must agree, as do thousands, with Sea Shepherd in its claims that the Japanese fleet has been systematically abusing this ‘authorisation’ by running a de facto whale fishing expedition on an annual basis in foreign territory for commercial gain. The Australian Government even recognizes this, having lodged documents with the International Court of Justice over Japan’s activities. Of course, these ‘complaints’ have yet to be addressed.
Do Sea Shepherd’s actions transgress the often thin line between violent and non-violent action? I think not. While we have clashing of metal and certainly lives have been placed in danger in the Southern Ocean over recent years, with plenty of drama fit for media attention, there have been no serious injuries recorded. Relative to all the violent acts committed by Humanity, Sea Shepherd records a near zero activity classification.
I place the activities of Sea Shepherd firmly in the category of ‘Active Nonviolence’. Paul Watson, Bob Brown, et al are not simply doing justice to those magnificent mammals that roam our oceans, they are protecting our fragile ecosystem, Humanity included.
Within their actions, Sea Shepherd are displaying something that we could use plenty more of right now – bringing ethical and moral injustices to a head with an intuitive understanding of the boundaries of Active Nonviolence and with solid organization, intelligence, forethought.
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