Last night, Dave and I watched a movie called The Cove. To say it was a horrible film would be an understatement, but not because of the film itself – because of the film’s subject. The Cove details the process by which over 23,000 dolphins a year are slaughtered in Taiji, Japan. These animals are rounded up through a process that tortures their hearing, and then they are culled through by trainers from various aquariums and animal theme parks around the world. Those animals that aren’t selected are then herded into a cove where they are brutally slaughtered. Honestly, I have never watched something more horrific. I absolutely could not, cannot believe that people can do such a thing.
Yet, I am reading Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder, a book which details the story of Deo, one man who survived the genocide in Burundi. This horror was perpetuated, much like the slaughter in Rwanda, because of propagandized ethnic differences between Hutus and Tutsis (to simplify a complicated historical, cultural, and political situation). As I watched the film last night and thought about what I have read of the mass murder of Burundians, I wonder at our capacity to kill, to hate, to utterly disregard the life of other creatures. And I wonder what my reaction would have been if I had watched, live, the slaughter of people in central Africa. I’m not sure I could have kept watching.
I know, though, as Dave and I talked about last night, that to look away is to say I do not have to endure even the bearing of witness. I do not have to even see what is happening, and I know that these things – the slaughter of animals and of humans – continues to happen because people largely refuse to see and speak of what they have seen. I do not know what I can do beyond seeing and sharing what I have seen, but I do know that at least I must do this. At least, I must do this.