Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Top of the Food Chain

Yep, Louis C K got me thinking. Are we at the top of the food chain?

Not in Australia apparently. Sharks and crocodiles don't think we are, they eat us here. If we venture into their habitat, THEY FUCKING EAT US HERE! They are at the top of the food chain not us! AS THEY SHOULD BE IN THEIR OWN HABITAT. They don't stalk us on the streets yet, but if we don't control them, according to some governments, they will.

Should we be killing them, or as the hunters prefer to call it, culling them? Killing them to reduce their numbers to a "safe" amount so that there aren't more of them than us and they don't eat us. Or is there another way to deal with this? How do we share the planet with animals who may pose a threat to us? People stomp on spiders all the time, they don't consider whether or not they are harmful. They don't catch and release. They squish them, even though they are just minding their own business and actually, unknown to many of us humans, they are contributing to our environment in their own way. All creatures have their place on this planet.

The state government of Western Australia has employed a 'catch and kill' policy to deal with the sharks in the state. According to the premier Colin Barnett or 'Cullin' Barnett as people have started calling him, the sharks in WA are climbing too high on the top of the food chain and are eating people too frequently so they need to be killed in their own habitat, if they pose a threat to people - or if they are just minding their own bloody business and some, what they consider food, comes along and they are in need of a snack. 

The Department of Fisheries Western Australia put out a commercial tender and they are basically going to go out and murder these magnificent creatures. I'm with the people who think this is bullshit, like these guys - WASC. If a shark ventures into an area where there are swimmers, it is difficult to have a boat and harpoon handy to kill the thing before it eats anyone. Real life isn't like Jaws. So the government's alternative is to go out and hunt them before they reach the swimming areas to keep their numbers under control, but it's not like they are hunting us in packs. It only takes one shark to come into a swimming area and eat a person, by itself. We can't kill them all! How about preventing this from happening by designating safe swimming areas? What about constructing large rock pools, like the many on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, but bigger so that people can swim and enjoy the beautiful beaches of Australia's coastline and not be threatened by large, people eating sharks?

There will always be people who prefer to swim or surf at secluded surf beaches and will probably do so quite safely, but isn't that a risk you take when you choose to swim in the ocean? If the sharks grew legs and started stalking our streets, they would then be risking reprisals from us humans too, wouldn't they?

This debate is happening in the Northern Territory as well. A twelve year old boy is said to have been taken by a crocodile at a billabong in Kakadu National Park . The local indigenous community is understandably distraught as it is an area where the locals have enjoyed the watering holes for decades and some have said that since protections were put in place to prevent people from killing crocodiles, their numbers have increased and so has their fearlessness of people causing them to be bolder when requiring food of the human variety. So does that mean we should be culling them? We do this with kangaroos, particularly when their numbers become too large and they threaten crops or livestock. And we eat them. Most don't go to waste, I would hope. Some people eat crocodiles and sharks too, so perhaps they won't be going to waste either.

Recently there has been some outrage about a whale murdering session that takes place in the Faroe Islands in Finland annually, where mostly teenage boys, go out into the water and hack lovely whales to death, turning the sea red with their blood. There are some hideous pictures traveling around the internet, look it up, I don't have the stomach to see them again by posting a link. It's traditional and they consume most of the meat, but there are concerns that some of the whales die slowly and are left to rot on the beaches, what a waste!

My instinct, as a mother, as a compassionate human being, is to oppose the reckless slaughter of anything - even if it is for human consumption or protection. There must be a humane way to treat creatures who we share the planet with, whether they be insects (don't gas them, don't squish them - catch and release or divert their path or just learn to live with them; unless they are cockroaches, those fuckers creep me out and I am guilty of killing them, I need to grow in this area); or dogs that bite (be careful around dogs, socialise possibly dangerous breeds, don't hold your hand out); or livestock that we hugely demand for consumption as food (I don't know how the animal I am eating has lived and died, I don't have much of a choice of where to buy ones that lived and died humanely, I'm too selfish and potentially anemic to be a vegetarian); or bigger creatures that need us for food, especially in Australia.

I don't know what the answer is, but we need to have this conversation.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Happy Straya Day

The first thing I saw this morning when I looked outside was my neighbour's balcony across the street proudly shrouded in the Australian flag. My first reaction was 'bogan, redneck'. Why? Why has our flag become, to me anyway, a symbol of misplaced anger, a demonstration of nationalistic, one eyed, defiant, in denial, stubbornness. I know why, but it's still really hard to get others to understand let alone talk about it.

To me, the current Aussie flag doesn't represent everyone. It doesn't represent a unified, realistic and inclusive Australian culture. It only represents our colonial history. It represents England and white, anglo Australians. It doesn't represent our Indigenous heritage, it doesn't represent the hundreds of cultures that have migrated to Australia and the lineages of the majority of Australians. It doesn't represent our future, the many cultures and people yet to come here to make a life for themselves, particularly those currently trying to seek asylum. It doesn't represent the melting pot that Australia is and will continue to be.

The argument that most who defend our flag turn to is that their grandfathers fought under that flag and we should be waving it around now to remind us of their sacrifice. Well I reckon, so bloody what? Why should that stop us from discussing the idea that Australia is a unique and independent country and it has grown up and away from it's English heritage that whilst still important isn't the only aspect of our heritage that needs to be recognised and respected? Why would re designing our flag or becoming a republic mean to these people that we would forget that past? It wouldn't. It would just move us forward.

I think in holding on so tightly to this flag and waving it around with such aggressive and bombastic patriotism, they are actually doing themselves and the current flag a disservice. They are providing more reasons to change it and giving it increasingly negative connotations and meaning. 

So should we let it happen organically? I suppose. I wonder which government in the future will be brave enough to broach the subject? I guess the one that feels it has the support of the majority of Australians and I think that the time is sooner rather than later. Perhaps once the current government is gone because I don't think their conservatism and simplistic lowest common denominator politics will achieve anything of note in its term.

I like this, this is what it's all about, it's a great start anyway!

This is fantastic too: