"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~ Margaret Mead
Photo credit Cali.JT Photography
All other pictures by kind permisson of Rob Hill
On Friday November 7th I boarded an early morning coach for a three hour journey to the capital. Dressed in warm clothing, a rain coat and boots for the predicted dismal weather, this was no shopping trip along Oxford Street, but for a purpose far more profound. Clutching my banner, which had originally been a life size promotional cardboard figure of Marilyn Monroe, I was heading towards my destination - the Japanese Embassy.
Heralded as one of the biggest animal rights demonstrations in the UK, I joined more than a thousand voices in a peaceful protest, raising awareness to the annual barbaric slaughter and captivity of dolphins in Taiji Japan.
Animal activists, animal defenders, there are many labels given to people trying to make a difference for others, but I couldn't have spent a more liberating and inspirational day. I was surrounded by hundreds of caring, kind people, whose only desire like mine - is to see a more compassionate world.
This world seems to be governed by greed and profit, and always at the expense of what human kind see as lower life forms. Dolphinariums and marine parks, poaching, trophy hunting, dog fighting, badger culling, factory farming, circuses, animals used for testing and the continued destruction of rain forests and other inhabited land. The list is endless and also extremely frightening.
When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
~ Cree Prophecy ~
Ric O Barry founder of the dolphin project and who featured in the Academy Award-winning film 'The Cove' joined the protest. In the sixties he was first recognised for training the five dolphins that played 'Flipper' in the successful American series. Since this time, he has campaigned tirelessly to end cetacean captivity, understanding its cruelty and their unhappiness in a tank.
Ric O' Barry ~ 'A dolphin smile is the greatest deception.It creates the illusion that they're always happy.'
Dominic Dyergave a speech which told everyone in no uncertain terms the horror that takes place in Taiji and the link with captive trade for marine parks. Japan continues to claim it is the culture of the village, but the drives are not about culture or livelihood, they exploit wild life and are fuelled by greed. A dead dolphin is worth $400, whilst a live one is worth $200,000. A life sentence in captivity is given to the chosen few, but first they must witness each of their remaining family members suffer the most horrendous death sentence - a pole being driven through the spine. These are highly intelligent beings who stay with their family pods and in which research now suggests like elephants and great apes, they also possess self awareness.
For me, this isn't just about the innocent family pods of cetaceans continually driven into the notoriously named killing cove; it's about humankind and compassion. It's about not turning my back on the way some of my fellow beings treat other life forms, without respect, without dignity and without any thought or consideration for their fear or pain.
Nix Venter, one of the organisers of this hugely successful protest was asked recently, "Why Dolphins? Aren't there more deserving causes you could be protesting about right now, such as Ebola, or starvation?" Her response was poignant and resonates with me completely. She suggested that whatever their concerns, or whatever felt important to them, change can only be triggered by actively doing something to effect that change.
And Nix is right. If we listen to our heart, it will always tell us the right thing to do. No matter how many people tell you that you are wrong, no matter how many people sneer or laugh behind your back, if it feels the right thing to do and it's going to make a positive difference, then do it! Too many of us for hundreds of reasons do absolutely nothing simply because we feel who we right now, or where we are right now will not be suffice to make the positive difference we wish to make. But we can and we should!
It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result." ~ Mahatma Ghandi
On Saturday January 17th 2015 I will be heading back to London once again, this time for a carnival march, but with exactly the same message for the Japanese government regarding Taiji .
"Stop the slaughter in the water!"
Awareness is growing and like so many more I will not stop until we make that difference!
For more information about the Dolphin Project and what you can do to help