The Canadian years, 25 Greenpeace

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Wednesday 03 December 20:06


Green Seals

We had entered without noticing  BC. Not that you noticed that easily. You just drove and the landscape remained the same but you had crossed the state border of BC. License plates of the cars were now a different color and there was a text. 'keep BC green' on them. British Columbia was the most westerly state and had the warm Gulf Stream flowing from northern California to Canada giving it a temperate climate. They even had peach trees, something that you can simply forget for the rest of Canada. They were leaders in environmental conservation when the word still had to be invented. ‘You know,’ my brother said, ‘I've heard at work, that if you 'litter’, you know throw something out the window, you get a fine of 100 dollars.’ ‘So,’ I answered,’ that is not to be laughed at , but why would you throw something out your window anyway?’ ‘In fact,’ he continued, ‘ if two different drivers passing you, report you, because they have seen you throw something out the window then you get that ticket as well’. Now you could understand the texts painted on the roads better. As you often have a display with white resistant paint on roads, like a large 'stop' word. In BC every few miles, you’d encounter a text, 'keep BC green'. It made sense though, repetition grinds in, if you see such text enough times, then it does something to your thinking ..


We drove a little later, into the state of Alberta. Where cowboys could just throw all sorts of things out of their car. We were the cowboy state, "the state of the Stampede," even our rugby team was called, "the Calgary Stampeders. Rodeo's were macho in our state if you did not have any connection to wild bronx, wild horses, you were kind of suspicious. BC gave fines, but it was a punishment that sorted effect, by their policies, by continuously repeating the message right up to the license plates of the cars, a consciousness was born, ‘it was antisocial to throw something out of the car or throw anything on the ground. A person with a good upbringing, wouldn’t do so, it was not done!’

My brother switched the 8 track cassette off, as we listened to the news. The seal hunt was in full swing and proceeded with much commotion. The news was followed by a discussion program and it was about the way in which the seals were slain. A panel discussed the pros and cons of that hunt. I had not even been aware of any seal hunt. My brother wanted to push the cartridge back into the slot, but I asked him to wait a while because the discussion was interesting. It turned out that a permit had been issued for the killing of 290 000 seals. Young newborn seals have white fur, and were killed precisely for that reason, their fur .. The hunting grounds charged  money to the Norwegians, who hour after hour batted the young helpless seals to death. They climbed the ice floats and clubbed the young animal’s brains out.

Someone called in and asked the panel why the animals were clubbed and not shot? ‘To leave the skin intact,’ was the laconic answer. The horror of what was not  discussed, suddenly dawned on me fully. There was an 'old bat hunter' present and he explained that the bat had a hook on one side that you hit into the seal to drag him along. He also objected to the habit of the Norwegians of skinning baby seals alive but, he said, a perfect skin was worth $ 100 and the suffering of the beast but transitory. My brother whistled. ‘Holy shit,’ he said, ‘that is 290 000 times 100 dollars.’ He sat for a while  muttering to himself, I assumed that he was calculating. ‘That is $ 29 million’, I said, that's not really difficult, but I assume that there is no seal tally, so there'll be more slain’. ‘A mass murder is permissible for $ 29 million,’ I said emphatically.’ It happens since time immemorial, moron,’ my brother said to me. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘and since time immemorial people on this planet have been tortured. timeframe justifies nothing.’


‘I wonder if I can join some outfit,’ he said half aloud. I looked at him aghast, ‘you're not serious,’ I said in disbelief. The realization came, it were people like my brother who could switch off their feeling, like executioners in Nazi camps. A fisherman, took the floor and said that when a year hunting was forbidden, it had been noticed in the fishing that had fallen back drastically that year. I found that at least an argument. My brother said again, ‘I would not have much trouble with it, you kill a few months and then you go on a vacation to a sunny area.’ ‘You're crazy’, I said we were once again the usual bickering brothers. ‘Do you understand what you're saying,’ I asked, more and more exciting about such cruelty. ‘That you’d  kill a baby, just for its skin and the rest you just leave behind, wasted, unused, the carcass, meat and whatever. Does that sound good to you?’’ Actually, it does,’ my brother said. ‘Well’. I said,’it does not seem very good to me.’ ‘You're a big softie,’ my brother said. ‘No’, I thought, ‘I can mirror and I can really imagine without having been there, what the words meant on the radio.


There was a news flash, disturbances had occurred. Activists with rubber boats had taken to the floating ice and sprayed with green spray cans, the young seals. Making their skins worthless. Some were arrested by the police and one of them was shot by a Norwegian who saw his trade go down the drain, but had purchased a license. Moments later it was announced that it was an organized action, all the arrested activists were from the group of anti-nuclear weapon protesters: 'Do not Make a Wave Committee, ‘who were strongly against US nuclear testing in Alaska. All came from Vancouver BC.


‘That will come on the news this evening,’ thought my brother. He was right. Without realizing the anti-nuclear test group had unleashed something, irrevocable they had protected the baby seals in the name of another species of humanity, they had offered them a gesture of peace, 'Green Peace' was a fact. ‘That has no future’, my brother said, ‘money speaks.’ And he got it wrong.

San Daniel 2014

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