In their op-ed article in last Sunday's New York Times, titled, "War Really Is Going Out of Style," Joshua S. Goldstein and Steven Pinker expressed the view that mankind is gradually turning away from war. They proposed that "...our growing repugnance toward institutionalized violence..." is perhaps the primary cause and noted that "...cannibalism, human sacrifice, heretic-burning, chattel slavery, punitive mutilation, sadistic executions..." have largely disappeared from the face of the earth. Sadly, they are wrong.
In this time of year when over one third of the population of the earth, and eight out of ten Americans, celebrate the birth of Christ, the thought that war may be a thing of the past must give hope to us all. It should also make us even more appreciative of the nobility, sense of duty, and sacrifice demonstrated by the men and women who have served in our armed forces. And yet, even as we thank them and look upon our fellow human beings through the eyes of peace, it is sad to note that the very acts that Messrs. Goldstein and Pinker cite as fading from our pan-global repertoire are still painfully evident in our treatment of the whales and dolphins with which we share the earth.
Despite the good tidings that men and women of faith everywhere feel at Christmas, the most intelligent and sentient beings on the planet, next to man, still suffer the brunt of mankind's millennia-long love affair with violence, brutality, and killing. In great numbers, they are still slaughtered, butchered, consumed, enslaved, mistreated, mutilated, and executed by us: and for that we are a lesser people and this is a lesser world. That any animal should be made to suffer is inexcusable; but where the victims of such vile acts possess an awareness of self and family that is arguably equal to ours, the infliction of such suffering is abhorrent.
Perhaps one day, on some Christmas Eve in the future, the good tidings that we feel toward our fellow men will apply equally to these beautiful and beleaguered creatures of the deep. Until then, those of us who care deeply about these magnificent beings that are relentlessly hunted by Japanese, Icelandic, and Norwegian whaling fleets, or confined in tiny concrete tanks for our amusement by Sea World and other fun parks like them, will continue to speak out against the depravity of the few and the apathy of the many.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.