Sunday, September 14, 2014

In Praise of the Eco-Pirate

"I think the problem is that we don't really understand what we are. In essence we're just a conceited, naked ape. But in our minds we're some sort of "divine legend", and we see ourselves as some sort of god. That we can walk around the earth deciding who will live and who will die and what will be destroyed and what will be saved. But the fact is we're just a bunch of primates out of control."
Paul Watson

For reasons that are difficult to define at best, I have lacked just about all motivation to write anything whether it be my usual crappy and derivative fiction or some barely coherent political rant. This all consuming lethargy extends even to getting stuff done around the house or yard. Okay, that is nothing unusual for me, I find neither activity existentially redeeming. Nonetheless, I seem to be pushing the envelope on suburban slackerism with the domestic chores I am purposely and contemptuously ignoring .

There are a few plausible reasons for my condition. The first being the time of the year. The entire month of August and most of September in South Carolina are ungodly in their combination of excessive humidity and high temperatures. You spend anytime outdoors and you can feel those twin leeches sucking the life out of you. At least from the latter half of September cooler weather will begin to be the general rule. The second reason is that work is kicking my ass, I come home and pretty much collapse on the couch after eating breakfast. Not a pretty existence, but some have it far worse. The third possible reason is that when I watch the news, in an effort to be an informed citizen, it is a smorgasbord of potential and building global disasters.

Unfortunately unlike the first two there is no easy way come to grips with depressing nature of global affairs. I could ignore the news, but that would be push me closer to the, and I know this is a cruel opinion, the mindless masses who wander around these days and do stupid things like vote Republican. As a bit of backhanded olive branch to these people caught up in a semi-Orwellian bliss I will say that the major news outlets make it hard to stay informed. The world is on extremely shaky ground these days and they spend considerable time on stories best left to the likes of Entertainment Tonight, the National Enquirer or even worse, National Review magazine.

With my ubiquitous cultural and political insult out of the way I will say that during my morning downtime after I get off work and before I go to bed I have been indulging in an old habit of watching documentaries on Netflix. This is how I got a chance to see “Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson.”

I first heard of Paul Watson when the Animal Planet cable network aired the show “Whale Wars.” Captain Watson and the group he founded, Sea Shepard Conversation Society, have played hell with whaling ships, both illegal and those flying national flags for decades. When I first ran across the Whale Wars series I was instantly sympathetic to their cause even though Captain Watson didn't seem to have all the screws in his head properly tightened. In fact, and pardon another abused reference, but he often seemed like some alternate reality version of the insane Captain Ahab, just this time out to save the whales instead in killing them.

Before anyone explodes let me come out and say that after seeing Eco-Pirate I realize I had grossly misjudged Captain Watson. Eco-Pirate is both a biography of Captain Watson and a detailed explanation of the reasons why conservation groups like Greenpeace are woefully inadequate in facing the monstrous destruction of the oceans and the animals, including humans, that depend on it.

What really struck me hard was the story Captain Watson related during a failed attempt to prevent a Soviet whaling ship from harpooning a sperm whale back in the 1970's. Paraphrasing, Watson related how he was able to bring his small rubber boat right next the dying mammal. With the water turned red with blood, Watson looked into the cetacean's eye and somehow knew the creature understood that his group was trying to save it. Watson then went to relate how he realized that the Soviets were killing these remarkable and beautiful creatures for their oil that would be used as lubrication in nuclear missiles, which of course, would allow human to sterilize the planet. He said then that it was at the moment he knew humans were insane. Before anyone accuses me of overt favoritism, Eco-Pirate does let you know that Captain Watson is human with all the failings associated with that condition.

Despite his all to normal warts, Watson is just the shock to the dominate global system --capitalism-- of unrestrained exploitation of the oceans this planet needs. Over the years I have seen how “Free Market Capitalism” can excuse all manner of crimes and destruction. For just a couple of quick examples, I clearly remember a blowhard on one of the American business news channel lamenting how polluting water could be justified as long as there were jobs and money involved. Everyone should also remember how back in 2007-2008 insane banking practices nearly sent the country and the world into another great depression. Now did these irresponsible bankers and investment types ever go to jail? The only time I can recall a capitalist ever going to prison was Bernie Madoff who made the mistake cheating far too many of his own kind. On a side note, throw in ever present excuse of nationalism and religious beliefs and you pretty much have set the human race on a course to extinction.

Getting back on topic, can Captain Paul Watson be an egotistical blowhard with hints of a latent messianic complex? Yeah, but being completely honest, in the face of lying politicians and business types who I find far more similar to Nazi or religious cult types I would say we need at least a thousand more people just like Paul Watson who clearly care more about the planet than power or making a buck. In fact ten-thousand would be a far more ideal number. If you have the chance try and watch, Eco-Pirate: The Story of Paul Watson. 

 "We're now in the midst of a 3rd World War, but this time the enemy is ourselves, and the objective is to save the planet FROM ourselves. There's no hope for masses of humanity to do anything — they never have, they never will. All social change comes from the passion and intervention of individuals or small groups of individuals. Slavery wasn't ended by any government or any institution. Women got the right to vote not because of any government. The civil rights movement, the same thing. India with Mahatma Gandhi, South Africa with Nelson Mandela. Again, it's always individuals. You need those individuals with the passion and the energy to get involved. In fact, I don't know of any government or any institutions that are doing anything to solve any of these problems. All over the world, all I am seeing is individuals and non-government organizations that are passionately involved in protecting ecosystems and species, and that's where I see some optimism. That's where I see results are happening."
Paul Watson


Pixel Peeper said...

...those twin leeches sucking the life out of you. Yes, this described exactly how I feel these days! Throw in a new job, which is stressful all by itself, and all I want to do when I come home is to just collapse.

I'd never heard of Paul Watson before (well, not his name, but certainly was aware of his cause and Greenpeace efforts), but he's right - it takes passionate individuals to bring about change.

Rose L said...

I have a friend who was very involved with Greenpeace for a few years so she knows Mr. Watson quite well! Sh was arrested in 2 different countries for piracy when she and a couple others boarded ships to stop them from killing whales. She is assisting here in Oregon in the fight against coal transport. She has written a wonderful book you can buy called KIDNAPPING THE LORAX with quite a twist of an ending. Her name is Pat Lichen.
I may direct her to this post.

Life As I Know It Now said...

I am going to watch it as you suggest and then get depressed about how insane the human species has become.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

It sounds like you need your emotional tank re-filled. Dr. Swiderski prescribes at least a brief visit to the beach, soaking in the sights, sounds, and smells. "Soothes the soul" even better than rock 'n' roll. (We spent about an hour on the beach at Myrtle Beach over the weekend, and it rejuvenated me better than Geritol ever could.)

As for Paul Watson, I hope his fervor proves to be contagious.

Carol Kilgore said...

Good to meet you on Susan's blog today.

Marja said...

I hear you and I feel the same. Today they are counting the votes in NZ and it looks like that not much is going to change. Capitalism will prevail, nature being ignored, although there is an increase in people voting greens. We need more hero's who move us in the right direction.