|Sharks in a basin at a food market in Xiamen, Fujian, China|
A lot of Filipino householders burn plastic along with the dried leaves and twigs on their 4 o' clock habit pile.
A lot of fisherfolk unapologetically yank sharks, rays and whales out of the water. Many even use dynamites and cyanide.
They persist even though they are perfectly aware that it's illegal. They end up being fined or thrown in jail if they are caught. If you ask them why they did it, the answer always has something to do with either lack of awareness or necessity.
"Why did you incinerate those plastic bags?"
"Well, why not?"
"It causes harm to the environment."
"Why should I care? (Sus, tuo man ka!)"
"Why did you yank up that shark/stingray/dolphin?"
"There's not much tamarong this season. Also, these things cost more than the average fish and I have eight children to feed."
It's not that people are innately evil, it's that a lot of people lack education. And I'm not talking about elementary and high school rudiments on environmental concerns; I'm talking about real education--making people aware of how each small action is consequential to every other thing that happens on Earth. Bringing to their attention that the reasons behind the hardships they are going through is because people started doing what they are doing in the first place. We need to make people come to terms with the fact that everything has consequences that extend beyond the walls of their homes. And we need to find a way to really make them feel it.
AND WE NEED TO STOP LAYING BLAME SOLELY ON THE THINGS THAT ARE IMMEDIATELY VISIBLE TO US.
Educate the rich as much as the poor. They need it, too. If they are smug enough to say they don't need to be told again, then that just means they don't know shit. We are only able to take photos of violators who emerge from fishing trips directly onto beach shores. These are small-time fishermen. The bigger moguls commit much larger atrocities but we can't take photos of the wrong things they do because they have developed ways to shield themselves from us. They have dedicated ports, freezers in their boats and such.
We need to stop laying all the blame on the poor and start scrutinising higher up the echelons if we are to change things. And we need to stop relying on punitive measures to get things done. "Make a law. Pass an ordinance. Ban this. Make that illegal." It seems preventive on the surface but it always ends up being punitive. For most people, the implementation of a law entails policing and arresting violators rather than to allow people to understand why laws are in place in the first goddamn place.
We need to stop the notion that we have to cause people more suffering to effect change. It doesn't work. It never works. We need, instead, to start finding ways to effect change by making people realise that they are already suffering by their own deeds. We need to instill values in people rather than create more prison cells or instigate a culling.
When has a society run by fear and anger ever been considered effective?
|Sharks fished off the coast of Panglao, Bohol, Philippines|
Photo: Holger W. Horn (Facebook)