Jul 9, 2019

Starboard (2019)


Keywords: ecocide, whales, society, conscience

The Japanese government lifts the whaling ban and kills two the first day. That is the headline we all woke up to hear. For me, it was like reading that we were at war, that an earthquake had struck, that a bomb had exploded.

How can we consciously decide to get out to slaughter the few whales that are left in the oceans? And for what? How can we do this after having been exposed to all of the awareness campaigns of the last 30 years? After having seen all of the whale movies? Was it all just entertainment, good old fun? Today our conscience is more akin to bling, something that we wear if it matches the rest of our outfit. It seems that we are not capable of becoming aware of any moral principles, incapable of being motivated to act upon them and that we cannot assess our character, our behavior, and ultimately ourselves against those principles[1] We are the spect-actors of a horrible spectacle, but we still enjoy the drama.

Everything that we have seen and everything that we have believed in is as useless as the trash blowing on a street. Worse, we are the ones throwing the refuse out of the car windows while driving on a scenic route. I am ashamed to be part of it. Yes, I am part of it, we all are. At this moment, we are putting our raincoats and sharpening our harpoons. We are leaving our homes under the cheers of our friends and families. We are going to bring back as many whales as we can. The world has made us monsters roaming the seas, death is our trophy.

And right here, at the antipode of these Japanese killing fields, in our own Gulf of St. Lawrence, scores of whales wash onshore, entangled, hit, rotting. At first, we see a stand-to from the government, imposing a speed limit on vessels in the Gulf. It didn’t take long to hear protests from the shipping, the cruise lines, and the fishing industries. Our vacations, our consumption, and our infinite appetite for seafood are what count here. It is all complicated, they say. For our economy, etc. It has come down to this: to us, wanting things and not giving a damn about anything else. Making payments on a fully loaded F-150 has more value than saving a whale. And our subsequent collective silence is a collective nod to kill the last of every living thing. We are like those who are directly involved, those putting on raincoats and sharpening harpoons.

When the last whale alive will near the end of its life, entrepreneurs will surely seize the opportunity to create an event where seats will be sold and snacks will be served. The chosen few will witness the extinction of that great animal. It will become a handle, a hashtag, an image on Instagram, as it vanishes from our world.

The sea is rough and my shame and my sadness have no weight to hold it back. I am on a dingy, struggling to float beside the larger ships of our modern life.

P.S. A few years ago, the International Criminal Court was considering adding Ecocide to its list of punishable crimes [2]. I am sure that whaling falls into this category.

[1] Conscience, paraphrased from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Mar 14, 2016

[2] Proposed amendment to the Rome Statute, Eradicating Ecocide

Image: Cutting up a blue whale | Library of Congress https://www.loc.gov/item/99614373/

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Daniel H. Dugas

Artiste numérique, poète et musicien, Daniel H. Dugas a participé à des expositions individuelles et de groupe ainsi qu’à plusieurs festivals et événements de poésie en Amérique du Nord, en Europe, au Mexique et en Australie. Son treizième recueil de poésie « émoji, etc. » / « emoji, etc. » vient de paraître aux Éditions Basic Bruegel.

Daniel H. Dugas is a poet, musician, and videographer. He has participated in solo and group exhibitions as well as festivals and literary events in North America, Europe, Mexico, and Australia. His thirteenth book of poetry, 'émoji, etc.' / 'emoji, etc.' has been published by the Éditions Basic Bruegel Editions.

Date : Mars / March 2022
Genre : Poésie / Poetry
Français / English

émoji, etc. / emoji, etc.

Date: Mai / May 2022
Genre: Vidéopoésie/Videopoetry