Last night I watched the film Blackfish on CNN; it’s the story of an Orca (killer whale) that had killed its trainer in the course of being held in captivity at Sea World.
Coincidentally I had had lunch with a friend who actually works with Sea World and he made some eloquent arguments that Sea World has actually served a noble purpose in familiarizing humanity with the wonders of whales and dolphins.
While the movie was obviously edited for maximum emotional effect two poignant scenes go beyond any objective “explanation”. First the way that Tillicum (the Orca that killed the trainer in Orlando) was first captured with other calves, and taken away from its mother and pod, was heart wrenching to any normal soul. Second, when the calf born at Sea World was removed from its birth mother to be trained at another park, and the mother’s shrieking and grief, would have to move anyone not completely brainwashed by insensitive materialism.
Sea World shareholders are suffering as a result of the film. My friend has his work cut out for him. On CNN’s site the point is made that the film ignores Sea World’s contributions to research and conservation but what is undeniable is that Sea World’s treatment of Tillicum would have caused any human become enraged. He was treated as an object – not as a sentient being.
What came up for me was a phrase used by G.I. Gurdjieff, a spiritual teacher from the 20th century, who spoke about “organic shame”; this is the feeling (or perhaps lack of feeling) of compassion for other sentient creatures and our responsibility to treat them (pardon the pun) humanely.
At one point in the movie the dimensions of the pens where these large, intelligent animals are kept were described along with the fact that they typically swim 100 miles a day in the wild. It was like a cell in solitary – in prison.
Tillicum was kept in a pen with aggressive females who bit and raked him with their teeth at night because he was not from their “nation,” pod or family. He was also manually milked of sperm and used to breed like a farm animal.
It reminded me of my visit to Sea World with my parents in San Diego when I saw the exhibit with the penguins, with the tags on their fins, and it reminded me of a concentration camp.
(My mother, who knew about this from personal experience, did not enjoy the visit).
So how does this relate to gun violence?
Think about a young man who has been conditioned from virtually birth to objectify women in a certain sexual way but encounters only women in the “real world” who are conditioned to want men of certain status, relegating him to a life of continuous sexual frustration.
Due to his conditioning, a “normal” relationship to a woman who does not come from a Bond movie or beer commercial is impossible. Further he has been abused and/or bullied for years, and his job has been downsized our outsourced.
For CNN to wonder about the “motives” of such an individual when he goes bonkers and shoots up a mall or an airport is what is insane – not so much his behavior.
Certainly only 1% of the population may succumb to these pressures and manifest mental health issues. Since no professional care is available and they have no real family, they go what is known as “postal.”
But that is enough to create sufficient headlines to fuel the fantasies of more of these people.
I would submit, however, that what we have in this country is not so much a gun problem, but a reality problem where love is concerned.
First of all, love is not romantic sexual consummation, as pleasurable as that may be. It isn’t the conquests in a James Bond film or a week in Monte Carlo on a private jet with Fabio, drinking champagne and being “fabulous.”
It cannot be acquired or purchased – it must be lived consciously.
We don’t have a lack of knowledge or information “about love” – we have a poverty of Being.
My parents had their problems, but they knew how to love without Dr. Phil or Oprah. They were loving, they modeled love, and they manifest generosity. They came from a loving community and built a loving home.
Every institution and business in this country claims to be about “love” – and “family” and “community” but for many of us those experiences, when closely examined, feel very empty.
And it’s not just men. Women who have bought into the superwoman myth and tried to “have it all” with the “man of their dreams” also often feel empty and short changed. They are not generally armed, however.
Let’s look deeper.
Every “comedy” show on television has a laugh track accompanying people ridiculing and humiliating one another. Every family comedy is built on deception and duplicity.
Any boy on a little league team who has a coach that suggests that “fooling the umpire or referee” is part of “winning has the same revulsion inside, until it is conditioned out of him.
This is organic shame – or conscience.
Something in us knows better. Something in us knows there is something objectively Higher that we have tacitly ignored. We can discover it in ourselves if we look deeply and honestly, and we can even find it “scientifically” in the world if we’re vigilant and determined.
We know that ultimately we bear responsibility for our own inner world, even if we hide it from others successfully.
And we know that we are not on a random inert ball of rock hurtling through a lifeless universe, but that we are living souls having a human experience that implores us to live truly lovingly – not with lip service or TV segments on “making a difference” but in our daily activities and interactions with other humans and yes, sentient beings.
We cannot continue to abdicate this responsibility and survive. Indeed our oceans are dying and many species on which we depend, due to the far vaster Intelligence of Nature, are also nearly extinct.
Nature does not guarantee us a future – and certainly not one for our children.
It’s time to wake the fuck up.
Very interesting and thought provoking. What is your definition of sentience?
I agree that it is when a human is separated from their “organic shame” through environmental pressures, that is when they may become amoral, which then can become a psycosis.
This is a great question BT. Another way to consider what you call environmental pressure is what I call conditioning–much of which convinces us that we are purely materal, cause and effect dominated and completely separate from the rest of the universe.
I would define sentience or a sentient being is one that is running the DNA based operating system which connects the five known senses with other unknown as yet frequencies and comprises what is commonly known as organic life – from microbe to whale – whatever uses the DNA programming system to interact with the universe. The major feature of this operating system is “awareness” or “consciousness”, which we take for granted but which can serve as the basis for a new Observer-based science, in my opinion.
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