In a world where unrestrained human greed and ignorance has put the survival of all earthly life at risk, increasing standards of compassion and ethical concern may be crucial for our survival. The human capacity to evolve ethically may hold the key; it may be our only hope. Acts of cruelty tarnish and diminish us as human beings and the insistence that such injuries are beneath our moral concern betrays something terribly ugly in our species. Certainly a solely utilitarian view is severely lacking in noble and compassionate humanitarian qualities that we claim to value so highly.
When change is demanded, conflicts inevitably arise, as those untouched by increasing compassion and likely benefiting from its absence, try to maintain the regime in place. Additionally, most people initially experience great difficulty in accepting that they may be involved in something wrong or exploitative—I In defense of their accustomed habits, many lash out — usually at the wrong targets.
I have known the horror of captured lives that were destroyed to feed the greed of slaveholders and their ignorant customers. I have watched these slaves suffering as they were crushed, through brutality and indifference. I see little difference between the abuse, exploitation and enslavement of humans and dolphins because a clear view of our tangled global economical substrate reveals that these issues are one and the same. Both are symptoms of the system in place where the greedy and powerful routinely subjugate the poor, the weak and the vulnerable for profit.
The pursuit of profit and pleasure routinely subordinates morality and compassion; business does not acknowledge the devastating legacy of toxins, strife and suffering it passes on to future generations. As long as we value money more highly than living beings and our relationships with them, we will continue to regard Others only as resources to be used, objectified, discarded or killed.
We protect ourselves from painful realizations by dismissing or ignoring evidence that we participate in atrocities — even though the facts may be staring us in the face.
We desperately need to understand the reality of the lives that are affected by our consumer culture; to realize what luxuries come at the expense of others’ suffering — and thus, at the expense of our very humanity. We must recognize the inherent inhumanity of our current system and in order to evolve beyond it, we must cease valuing commodities over life.
Those who oppress and destroy, knowingly or otherwise, need to recognize the oppressed as members of their greater community, worthy of real compassion and respect.
Historically, the evolution of ethics has come from the inclusion of other races or genders into the community of moral concern, and thus has our humanity grown and evolved. Faced with the dawning realization that other species have intrinsic worth and that our morality ought to include our relationship and dealings with animals and ecosystems, our humanity is again struggling to evolve ethically on a deep level. Choosing compassion over utility and profit appears to be one of the most profound choices we are struggling to move towards.
There are those who appear unable or perhaps profoundly unwilling to grasp this concept, or move towards the necessary kinds of change. For a long time, much human morality has been mired in narrow self-interest, but as our ethical standards evolve, what once appeared reasonable may no longer seem that way.
Where we fight for the freedom of dolphins, we fight for the freedom of the Earth and all its peoples, because the destructive system that ensnares and harms dolphins, also harms us all. They are a supremely apt symbol for the polarized human relationship with Nature and the internal struggle we are facing within human nature itself.
Each one of us can and must make a difference. Never forget, when the money flow stops, harmful practices cease — and that puts the reins of power squarely in the hands of ordinary citizens.
In order to summon the effort, the time and the energy for restorative actions, we have to want to — we have to care. This means more than simply engaging our heads with grim facts and figures. We must engage our hearts. When things get personal, we get motivated.
In order to care, we need to reconnect, with Nature and with each other! This an integral and entirely accessible component of restoration — inspiring us to help restore and support living, thriving, diverse, sustainable communities of all kinds, through direct involvement.
Without this profound transformation of human spirit and consciousness, without a REKINDLING of this sacred covenant with Nature and within ourselves, the suffering cannot end. In this crucial respect, we must either evolve or go extinct.