My Response to Blackfish

I watched Blackfish last night. I have lost another thread in the thin fabric of my faith in humanity.

If you’re not familiar, Blackfish is a recently released CNN documentary about orcas in captivity, specifically exposing what goes on behind the scenes at SeaWorld. For those naysayers who claim the film is biased and one-sided, I acknowledge that the story is slanted by the point of view of anyone who disagrees with animal captivity. However, in my opinion, no amount of good things that SeaWorld might be doing to help conservation efforts, or to help rehabilitate animals, can excuse or justify the terrible things we as humans have done to another living, feeling, highly intelligent creature. Two rights don’t justify a wrong. Anyone who thinks that way is simply rationalizing to make it possible to accept and look past terrible, terrible things. You can even read between the lines and see that the former trainers interviewed in Blackfish did this to a degree before leaving SeaWorld. Rationalization is, unfortunately, a fact of the human condition, which can be a powerful coping mechanism for survival, but is also too often twisted for personal gain. The ability to rationalize allows us to perpetrate unspeakable acts, not just in the realm of cruelty to animals but in many other ways historically, and to this day: slavery, the Holocaust, Japanese internment camps, the misuse and abuse of our planet and resources, war for reasons beyond simply defending oneself and ones property. The list goes on and my heart breaks over the atrocities of humanity. Always in the name of progress, education, reform, revolution, ___________ [insert reason.]

I was once like the former trainers in Blackfish. I fell in love with SeaWorld as young child and for many years I dreamed of becoming a trainer. At some point my focus shifted and I believed I would pursue a career in Marine Biology, focusing on whale research. Sadly, I didn’t understand enough at a young age how that would translate into a tangible job which left me not knowing how to pursue it seriously. And in the end I let my weakness in mathematics and science studies push me away from that goal. I went with what was comfortable, reading and writing. But I never lost my love of orcas and dolphins. Interactions with these intelligent, beautiful animals in the wild have been highlights of my life. I hope to have many more.

Over the years I have become increasingly uncomfortable with animal parks – zoos, marine parks, etc. I’ve only been to a few in the last 10+ years and each time I left with a feeling of sadness and wrongness. It is often rationalized that it is important to have these institutions as a means to educate the world, and children specifically, about animals. Blackfish has confirmed what I think my unconscious has been trying to tell me, that animal captivity, for any reason, is wrong. We can educate our young about animals in other ways. Study them in the wild. Allow them to roam freely and observe them from a respectful distance. I now feel firm in my belief to never visit another animal park of any kind. I urge others to do the same.

If you have not seen Blackfish, please keep the title in mind. Watch for possible encore presentations on CNN. Watch for its release on netflix or other media sources. Ask around, perhaps a friend has it on their DVR. Please watch and open your eyes to what we have been doing to these majestic creatures, and to take action in efforts to change things. You can sign petitions to help free Tilly to a sea pen, to urge SeaWorld to end their exploitation of sea animals and to rehabilitate them back into the wild and to quit breeding, Like, Share, and Tweet, to your network of friends about these initiatives and others. I am not so foolish as to believe this is the only important cause in the world. There are many. Everyone must choose to support those causes that speak to them. Perhaps this is not yours. I can respect and understand that. All I ask is that you educate yourself and take part in trying to make a change somewhere, somehow, in some way that is meaningful to you.

Links for various petitions and articles about Blackfish and protecting marine life:

I no longer feel any allegiance to these monsters called human beings, despise being one myself.
~ Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay

Movie Monday – Tapped, Mad Men

We disconnected our cable last week. Oh my. Well, we hardly watched regular tv anyway and we were looking for where we could cut back and save a little. We are installing an outside antennae today which brings in about 15 channels, including the local news. We still have our netflix streaming, and we might subscribe to Hulu Plus. All in all, it will still cost less than the monthly cable which will be good in the long run.

Anyway, last week we watched an interesting documentary via netflix on the bottled water industry. Tapped was made in 2008, released in 2009, so it’s a couple of years old but the information is still incredibly relevant. If you don’t know much about the bottled water industry, or even if you do, you’ll probably learn something new. We knew a few little things here and there, some of it common sense, like how important it is to recycle the bottles; we didn’t know how much of the plastic and bottles end up in our oceans. Not cool. Or how few people actually recycle. Shame on you if you don’t! It’s so easy and SO IMPORTANT! I had no idea that Pepsi and Coke were two of the largest bottlers of water. Say what? I’d heard of BPA and knew it was bad for you, but I didn’t know how it was made, the side effects of the production plants, or how prevalent it was in our consumer products. Although this film is a documentary it’s not slow and it’s not dull. It’s packed with interesting information, sure some of it’s probably slanted a bit, everything is. But it’s worth your time. Check it out. Make some changes. Buy bottled water less, invest in a filter and use your local water – which btw, might be in the bottles you are buying depending on where you live.

Lately I’ve also been watching the AMC tv series Mad Men on netflix. I know it’s not really a movie but after watching four seasons over the course of two months, it’s more of an investment than a two-hour movie and I thought worth a little mention. I am so fascinated…by the stories, the time period, the costumes, the difference in culture. It’s a little slow at times, drawing out the drama, but it’s forgivable. Sometimes it gives me more time to look at the scene and take in all the little things that are different from now. If you’ve seen The Help (and liked it), and haven’t ever seen Mad Men (I know many people have already been following it since it’s inception in 2007), check it out. It’s the other side of the coin to the story in The Help. Same time period, different perspective. Season 5 starts on March 25th on AMC. I can’t wait! (Although unless I go watch it with a friend who has cable, I’m not sure how I’m going to see it in March. LOL)

Recycling just seems like the right thing to do, I mean really, it makes us responsible for the messes that we make. It’s all about just picking up after yourself, not shoving our trash in our oceans and streams. We might as well reuse it before we lose it. 
~ Ed Begley Jr.

Food Matters Documentary

We watched another great documentary this week, Food Matters. It’s about food, pharmaceutical drugs, vitamins/supplements, and how all these things affect us and our bodies.
It was very thought-provoking. Definitely worth 80 minutes of your time (or more if you’re like us and like to stop the movie so you can talk about it. Took us about 2 and 1/2 hours to watch the whole thing. 🙂 )

Films like Food Matters, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, and FatHead, and websites like Mark’s Daily Apple, have really opened our eyes and made us see that we were walking through life blind. It’s a bit shocking. We always thought of ourselves as healthy and fit but we were missing SO MUCH. We thought we were eating pretty healthy (low-fat, whole grains, traditional food pyramid style). Throw in some major cardio sessions to burn those calories. But guess what? The concept of calories in-calories out is not truly accurate. And, I had no IDEA high fructose corn syrup was so freaking bad for us! Blind, blind, blind.

We feel like we are headed in the right direction now as we explore eating organic/natural foods and eliminate processed foods as much as possible. After about a month of making significant changes to our pantry and our cooking, we’ve both lost weight without any effort, and we feel amazing. We aren’t craving the foods we’ve given up, we aren’t counting calories, we aren’t constantly hungry like with traditional diets (which, just to be clear, we aren’t dieting, we are just eating differently, forever), we are having great fun exploring new flavors and new ways of preparing foods, and we don’t regret the choices we’ve made one bit.

A note to the skeptics/critics because I know what you’re thinking…just because we say we are not eating certain things anymore, it’s not like we never eat them. We are aiming for an 80/20 primal/conventional approach to our food and drink. We still enjoy a good cocktail, and we still enjoy an ear of corn, or a piece of cake from time to time. It’s all about balance and, truly, it’s been pretty easy to be 80/20 and and not feel like we’re missing out on anything.

We found Food Matters through Netflix but I’m sure that’s just one of many ways to view it. Take some time to check it out. I bet you’ll learn something new.

If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.
~ Thomas Edison