Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Doomed By a Clash of Cultures

Brave but foolhardy acts of protest on the high seas, and bluster and bombast on the safe side of the shore, will never stop the Japanese from slaughtering my kind, either in the crimson-flecked windspray of the Southern Ocean, or the blood-soaked bays of Tajii. This tragic affair is no longer about the slaughter of tens of thousands of whales and dolphins each year. It has devolved into what the Japanese government sees as an imperialistic assault upon their culture. And Australia’s recent threat to take Japan to the International Court of Justice over their annual Antarctic whale hunts has only served to further widen Japan’s sense of isolation from the rest of the world: a cultural remoteness formed over two millennia that will not be bridged by fast boats or slow courts.
In his brilliant book, “The Cultural Imperative: Global Trends in the 21st Century,” Richard D. Lewis points out that in any interaction with the Japanese, “What is said is actually of minor importance. How it is said, who says it, and when it is said are the vital ingredients.” Unless the Americans, and Australians, and the rest of the anti-whaling world stop shouting, and until the Japanese start listening, my kind will be doomed by this lethal clash of cultures.
I pray that thought leaders on both sides of this contentious debate will see the light; and even though I realize how futile such a prayer may be, that does not lessen its sincerity, or the sense of hope behind it.

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