Paul Watson is the founder
of Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd.
The moment quoted below happened on one of his missions
to protect the whales. To prevent whales from being
shot, he tried to maneuver his boat between the whaler
and the whales. Sometimes this worked, sometimes it
Once a female whale was hit and reeled in by the whaler.
A male whale stayed close by all that time. The harpooner
shot this male whale, without a line attached to the
harpoon, just to kill.
Paul Watson recounts how he looked into the eyes of
the dying whale:
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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