It’s been a while since I’ve written for The Muse Within, but I am back with something worth paying attention to.
This one isn’t about environmental history, it is very much about the present and the future. I just finished watching a movie (more of a documentary) called “Racing Extinction” and I still have tears in my eyes as I write this post. It is a documentary about how our activities are causing probably the greatest extinction of life in Earth’s history.
There are some flaws in the direction, there are many things that they could have done better with the presentation. But what they did do was touch my heart and make me care. From previous mass extinction events to the current ocean acidification process that is taking place, the documentary does a fantastic job in explaining these complex scientific phenomena in simple and understandable language. But that’s not the highlight of this…
There is a section in the documentary filmed in a small village in Indonesia. This village is (was) the single biggest killer of Manta Rays, a beautiful sea creature. These animals were killed to supply the ancient medicine sector of China, and the fisherman were earning up to $400 per kill. Here’s the paradox: they knew that what they are doing is wrong. They knew that if this killing continued, there will be no manta rays left. But they have no other option for livelihood. And so they do this…
In many parts of the world, in many different sectors of the economy, from agriculture to livestock production to fishing to killing endangered animals, the people who do it know that this is wrong. But they are caught in the trap of capitalism: if they do not do what they are doing, they will have no other job. With no other job, they cannot feed their families and they will die.
Changing this seems daunting. You may think you need a lot of money and support. But that’s not entirely true. All we need is a little change in the path. In the documentary, the activists managed to convince the CITES authorities to put the Manta Rays on the protected list. With this done, harming mantas was banned globally. What about the fishermen? Instead of killing mantas, the activists started supporting them to show off mantas to the world. Tourism became the answer to fishing.
This documentary did one amazing thing: it made me believe that in a world full of atrocities, even a handful of people can make a difference, if you are courageous enough to attempt it. I’m going to do just that.
“It is better to light one candle, than to criticize the darkness.”
Watch the movie, please. It will open your eyes to some miraculous parts of nature. Keep a box of tissues ready, for I promise you, you will shed a few tears. At the end of it, you will get up with a stronger resolve to make a difference in this world.