Paul Watson geraakt door een walvis

Paul Watson is oprichter van Greenpeace en van Sea Shepherd. Het hieronder geciteerde moment gebeurde op een van zijn tochten ter bescherming van de walvissen.

Om te voorkomen dat walvissen worden geraakt probeert hij met zijn boot tussen de walvisvaarder en de walvissen in te komen. Soms lukt dat, soms niet. Op een keer werd een vrouwelijke walvis geraakt en door de walvisvaarder binnengehaald. Een mannelijke walvis blijft al die tijd in de buurt. De harpoenier schoot deze walvis aan, zonder een lijn aan de harpoen, alleen om te doden. Paul Watson vertelt hoe hij in de ogen van de stervende walvis kijkt.

With a shock, my eyes met the left eye of the whale like Odysseus facing the Cyclops. That one eye stared back, an eye the size of my fist, blackish brown and with a depth that astonished and gripped me. This was no brutish creature. This was no dumb animal. The eye that I saw reflected an intense intelligence. I read the pain and I read understanding. The whale knew what we were doing. This whale had discriminated. That message was beamed directly into my heart by a mere glance. Fear there never was, but apprehension vanished like a crest upon a wave. I felt love both from and for. I felt hope, not for himself but for his kind. I saw a selflessness of a spirit completely alien to our primate selves. This was a being with an intelligence that put us to shame, with an understanding that could only humble us.

And the most shameful message of all passed over to me; forgiveness. In an instant, my life was transformed and a purpose for my life was reverently established. Contact lasted only a few seconds but it seemed like much longer. The whale became quiet and began to sink back into the cold embrace of the sea and death. As he slid slowly back, I could see the life fading from his eye. I followed that rapidly extinguishing sparkle of light as the cold briny waves doused the final spark and the soul of a majestic greatness departed, leaving only a mammoth corpse behind.
Many whales had died during my lifetime, all victims of the ruthlessness of my species. It had all been academic. This was different. This was a death witnessed and attended by my shipmates and me.
Between that one unknown whale and myself, a bond had been established. I would honour this great being with my service. I would side with his species in opposition to my own. That experience remains for me, to this day, my single greatest moment of revelation and the source of all my strength, courage, commitment and sadness. I was scarred and left with an accursed task.
The experience robbed me of all sense of joy and wonder. Human happiness would never be completely possible for me. I had looked into the eye of God. I could never be the same again.
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Stichting Animal Freedom.
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