Have you heard of a place called Taiji?
If you have you’ll know why the mere mention of the name makes me shudder. If you haven’t, then please, take the time to enter the name into google and read all about it. And if you’re an animal lover, prepare to be upset. Fair warning. If you’re left unmoved, then you, my friend, are welcome to leave this planet and return to your own any time you wish.
Taiji is a small town on the coast of Japan. Taiji Cove is a place where humans slaughter dolphins. Not one or two, ones that might have unwittingly found themselves in the cove. They slaughter them hundreds at a time.
A fleet of boats sets sail. Out on the ocean they’ll locate a pod of dolphins, organise themselves for the hunt, then drive the pod back to Taiji Cove. Once there, and trapped, the dolphins are slaughtered inhumanely for their meat. Not all are killed – some are selected to be sold, alive, to various marine theme parks around the world. So that paying tourists can marvel at how beautiful and intelligent these creatures are…
I won’t get on my soapbox and start preaching about this barbaric practise, that isn’t what this blog is for. Besides, far better qualified people than I can argue the case better than I ever could. Links to them can be found at the end of this post, should you wish more information, or to support them in their efforts. (I’m not averse to sensible discussions about this and many other topics. I can be messaged on my Twitter and Facebook pages, or emailed direct – info at alenbcurtiss dot com)
So, back to the point of this post. Last weekend 250 dolphins were driven into Taiji. The ‘lucky’ few were removed, to live out their lives as ‘entertainment’ for overcharged tourists. The rest were slaughtered, the ocean yet again turning red with their blood. Yet again, those who care tried to raise awareness, tried to get the world to take notice. Yet again, the majority of newspapers didn’t print a single word about the atrocity. Yet again, news channels failed to broadcast a single second about the slaughter. It seems the only ‘news’ they believe people are interested in are stories about arguing politicians and cheating celebrities.
I was watching yet another news item about an exchange of words between politicians in the House of Commons, concerning tax avoidance by large companies. At the same time I was reading tweets by @SeaShepherd and @CoveGuardians as the dolphins were being slaughtered. Which one you consider to be more newsworthy is your choice, but it got me thinking – what if it wasn’t dolphins? What if it was children that were rounded up, herded to a certain place, and then hacked to death? Would the world ignore it? Would people sit back and let it continue? Would the media fail to report stories about it?
You know what? If it went on for long enough, long enough to seem routine, I rather think they would.
The following is the beginning of a story inspired by these events, and by the above questions I asked myself. As always, I’ll get round to finishing it at some point. If you know me, you’ll know this isn’t anything new.
Slaughter Of The Innocents
They came in the morning. Silent, grim faced men spilling from their transports and quickly surrounding the small primary school. Morning assembly had just begun and the pure, sweet voices of the children within could be heard, raised in a joyful rendition of All Things Bright And Beautiful. Bright and beautiful described the day perfectly. A golden summer sun beamed down from a faded denim sky, small wisps of pure white clouds sailed serenely across the heavens. Brightly coloured birds sang their newest compositions to each other, while honey bees acted as backing singers as they buzzed and hummed from one iridescent flower to another, legs already heavy with the first of the day’s pollen haul.
The grim faced men stood in a silent ring around the school, their black clothing absorbing the heat of the morning sun. Sweat ran in rivulets down dispassionate faces as temperatures rose. They cared not; they had an important job to do, and do it they would. Some carried worn sledgehammers, others favoured rusty swords, each tool of choice strapped to its user’s back. Hands were to be kept free for the Herding, which came before the use of such tools would be necessary.
The two transports the men had arrived in sat off to one side, engines rumbling, exhausts belching black fumes into the clear air. The heavy treads of their tyres had chewed up the green grass of the playing field, four muddy lines tracing their route across the soft turf. The cage trucks, only two for a school of this small size, were already parked by the chosen collection ground – a small park half a mile from the school. The commander of the black clad Collectors – a large, heavyset man with pinched features and watery eyes – had chosen the park purely because of the sculpture of a leaping dolphin in its centre. It appealed to his artistic side.
On the summit of a small hill to the north, a group of observers gathered, huddling together as if for warmth despite the heat of the day. The group consisted of the schoolchildren’s parents, and opponents of the Collections. Banners had been unfurled, placards were held high, all bearing slogans in defiance of the barbaric practise – ‘Stop The Slaughter!’, ‘Children Are Innocent!’, ‘Compassion Before Greed!’. They waved their signs in near silence – the New Laws clearly stated the penalty for ‘aggressive vocal opposition’ was a minimum of five years in one of the government’s correctional facilities. Actual physical opposition resulted in a lifetime of ‘corrective therapy’ and, in extreme cases, public execution.
Another, smaller group congregated a respectful distance from the first. Reporters, cameramen, photographers milled about, drinking coffee from plastic cups, and chatting quietly. Less than a dozen here to cover this particular Collection, less than a dozen to broadcast their reports to a disinterested world. Their numbers dwindled with each Collection – newspapers no longer printed the stories, news channels no longer aired the ‘exclusive’ reports. The world, it seemed, no longer cared.
The Commander stepped a few paces inside the ring of his hand picked Collectors. Each man had passed rigorous tests for ruthlessness – the slightest sign of compassion, the merest hint of sympathy meant instant failure for new recruits and a return to the job queues. The Commander had selected each one with meticulous care, over the years building the finest Collection Unit in the western world. In his opinion, anyway.
He gave a subtle hand gesture and the two rumbling transports fell silent, their engines switched off by unseen drivers. Up on the hill the observers turned their attention to the scene below. Some noted how the wildlife had also fallen silent, no birds sang, no bees buzzed. Even the slight summer breeze had abated. Mother Nature holding her breath, awaiting the inevitable.
The Commander raised a small and intricately engraved silver whistle to his lips. Today’s Collection was ready to commence.
The atrocities were about to begin.
So there you have it. Not exactly a masterpiece, and a long way from complete. Hopefully though, it’s made a few people think about what’s really important in the world, and maybe even look at things from a slightly different viewpoint.
The wonderful people of Sea Shepherd are doing what they can to stop the atrocities of Taiji, and also to protect all of our seas and oceans, and the wonderful and unique wildlife they contain. They can be contacted on the following:-
Sea Shepherd website – SeaShepherd.org
Sea Shepherd on Facebook – Sea Shepherd Official Page
Thanks for taking the time to read my scribblings.