Healing Our World: Weekly Comment

By Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D.

Why Is Defending the Earth Considered Extremist?

"The question is not whether we will be extremists,
but what kind of extremists we will be . . .
The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists."

-- Reverend Martin Luther King

To live content with small means,
To seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion,
to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich,
to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly,
to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart, to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never - in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.

-- William Ellery Channing

Mainstream media stories, and many members of the public, will often refer to the efforts of small bands of people who want to stop some defenseless animal from being killed or who want to end the destruction of the Earth's forests and oceans as being "extreme."


The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's ship, the "Farley Mowat." (Photo courtesy SSCS)
To me, the systematic destruction of the Earth's oceans, forests, and atmosphere to increase the profit of a few shareholders, the killing of animals to obtain furs for the rich, and children who starve and die in the midst of vast abundance because profit for few is the top priority is extreme.

Think about your own reactions for a moment to the events listed below. What is your gut feeling? Do they seem extreme?

Now look at the activities below that are triggering the above actions. What is your gut reaction to them? Do they seem extreme? Or do they seem to be just the consequences of progress?

At the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting held in June in Berlin, Japan unsuccessfully attempted to win a quota of whales for coastal communities. The Japanese proposal was voted down by the majority of the members of the IWC.

According to Captain Watson, "Here we have Japan claiming that there is a subsistence need for whale meat in Japanese communities and at the same time they are directing a surplus from their illegal activities in Antarctica into pet food."

The Sea Shepherd website says, "Whale and dolphin meat contain high levels of heavy metals, especially mercury. The level of toxicity in whale and dolphin meat has discouraged many Japanese consumers and is causing a surplus. This surplus is being processed into pet food. There are no other vessels, no governments, no other organizations that are stopping the illegal whaling activities of the Japanese, or enforcing the International Laws and Regulations that are made to help protect and preserve these endangered species. "


Circus elephant in chains (Photo credit unknown)
Most of us would classify the activist actions in the first list as extreme while the second list just represents progress and the quest for a better life. This is not a natural, instinctive classification. It is one that has been carefully developed in us for the last 200 years in the United States by those who are interested only in short term gain.

Could anyone interested in a humane, sustainable future with abundance for all support the second list? The fundamental assumptions that we grew up with and live with today may ALL need to be thrown out. We need new assumptions, values, and ethics.

The "American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language" defines the word extreme to mean "extending far beyond the norm." It is shocking to me that some people can define toxic pollution and the resulting suffering and cruelty to be the norm.

Think about all the things we do each day that we call normal and routine. All the driving, consuming, wasting, and throwing away we do are just a part of just another day. Look at what a routine day in the United States brings:

What if we all decide that we will work hard to define a new norm for us all? What if a normal day became driving as little as we can, buying nothing other than what we need to survive, not watching TV, not throwing anything out, and doing something to help someone who has nothing? What's so extreme about that?


1. Learn of the efforts of the Sea Shepherd at: http://www.seashepherd.org/main.asp

2. The Northwest Animal Rights Network can be found at: http://www.narn.org/campaigns-index.shtml

3. Stay in touch with Project Underground for information on little known issues at: http://www.moles.org/index.html

4. The Charity Wire website with information about circus abuses is at: http://www.charitywire.com/00-02845.htm

5. Track environmental health issues from Physicians for Social Responsibility at: http://www.psr.org/index.html

6. Find out who your Congressional representatives are and email them. Tell them they need to redefine their concept of what is extreme. If you know your Zip code, you can find them at: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ziptoit.html

{Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D. is a writer and teacher in Seattle and the author of "Healing Our World," A Journey from the Darkness Into the Light," available at: http://www.xlibris.com/HealingOurWorld.html and “Of This Earth, Reflections on Connections,” available at: http://ofthisearth.org. Please send your thoughts, comments, and visions to him at: jackie@healingourworld.com and visit his website at: http://www.healingourworld.com}