When I woke up this morning, I checked Facebook (as one does), and saw that I was tagged in this Facebook post. I’ve recently had some discussions online and in the real world about the needless cruelty humanity does in the name of sport (the now former Idaho Game and Fish Commissioner Blake Fischer’s hunting sojourn to Africa where he wantonly killed a family of baboons, for the seemingly sole reason of “because I could”) stands out, but then there was this.
I love stingrays. When I would stay with my grandparents, they would take me to Pine Island in Florida, and I would also hope we would get there early enough so I could see the stingrays sleeping in the shallow water by the beach – but by the time I got there, they had flown back into the Gulf of Mexico, leaving behind only their diamond-shaped imprints in the sand, the water so calm that the evidence had not been erased by the tides.
Seeing one killed this unnecessarily, for no other reason than laziness, it’s so infuriating. To see it suffer, slowly suffocating to death… We really don’t deserve this world.
GARBAGE ON THE BEACH
I do not do it myself. I have a choice. I can afford practicing compassion. Others are less fortunate. I understand why some people fish.
Still, wasting life? Putting someone through the agony of suffering and death? Pulling fish out of the water just to let them rot in the sand? That’s an entirely different story.
It’s the same attitude that allows us to club baby seals and skin them while they are still alive. It’s the same attitude that allows us to fire harpoons into the living breathing body of a whale, never mind she is self-conscious, worries about passing away, and perhaps even pays the homage to the Divine in her unique way. It is the same attitude that, we think, gives us a right to rape the earth and the ocean with a myopic greed that leads us to pumping water rather than heavy mud in a drilling hole for a sole purpose to save a few bucks though we have already made billions and will keep making more billions each and every year.
It was an evening at our favorite roaming place on the Mustang Island, right by the Park, right where the dragons smile to me, right where the protective deities have granted us free passage, right where we chant “Namu Dai Bosa — Homage to the Great Compassionate One” into the ten directions, for the benefit of all. My heart was high up in my throat and my fists might have been clenched, too, when we arrived at this place and the first thing I heard was – “I caught a stingray, a really big one, too. It lays down over there by the poles.”
If I had more courage, I would have asked him – “Why do you destroy living beings in such a brutal way? What is your purpose? What have you achieved?” If I only had more courage I would have returned the fish to the ocean right then and there, right in front of him and his children. But I did not.
I hovered around for several minutes waiting until they packed their crap into their gigantic oversized SUV and took off. Only then I returned the fish to the ocean. It was too late. It did not survive. Thinking about it, perhaps it was too late in the first place. Maybe there was no way to help her anyway.
I have to grant them one thing. There was no garbage on the beach once they left.
Namu Dai Bosa
for the fish left in the sand
salt on my cheeks
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Stefan Sencerz, born in in Warsaw, Poland, came to the United States to study philosophy and Zen Buddhism. He teaches philosophy, Western and Eastern, at the Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. He has numerous publications in professional philosophy journals as well as several refereed poems that appeared in various nationally distributed poetry journals. He has been active on a spoken-word scene winning the slam-masters poetry slam in conjunction with the National Poetry Slam in Madison Wisconsin, in 2008, as well as several slams in San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Chicago.