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6. Where She Blows (Tapestry of Faith)

In "," a Tapestry of Faith program

MATERIALS

  • Chalice or LED/battery-operated candle
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Optional: A copy of an episode of the Animal Planet documentary Whale Wars, and a player

PREPARATION

  • Visit both the Greenpeace USA website and the website of the Japan Whaling Association to make sure you are using current information and to obtain more than is provided here.
  • Optional: Obtain and preview an episode of the Animal Planet documentary series Whale Wars, available on DVD.

DESCRIPTION

Opening

Use your established opening ritual.

Check-In

Focus

Share these pieces from, respectively, the Greenpeace USA website and the website of the Japan Whaling Association:

From Greenpeace USA:

Each year the Japanese whaling fleet hunts hundreds of whales (many endangered species included) in the name of "science." That's right, the Japanese government has been using a loophole in international law to continue commercial whaling under the pretext of research. And this season, Japan has announced plans to hunt a total of 1,035 whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary alone (935 minkes, 50 endangered fin and 50 endangered humpbacks).
Japan hunts whales in the Antarctic and the North Pacific under the guise of "scientific research." However, the whale meat is packaged for sale in restaurants and supermarkets in Japan, and even included in school lunch programs there. And the Fisheries Agency of Japan freely admits that the objective of the "research" whaling program is to restore full-scale commercial whaling. So the commercial nature of Japan's whaling operation is undeniable.

From the Japan Whaling Association:

We endeavor after the revival and sound development of the whaling industry by collecting, studying, and clarifying various types of information about whaling, and by planning and implementing various measures for resuming whaling.

We are concerned about people having the wrong perception of whaling because of the lack of information and the biased information spread by some environmental organization. Through this home page, we try to provide correct information about whaling, and hope to have as many people as possible understand whaling correctly.

Alternately, watch an episode of the television series Whale Wars. Preview the episode to make sure it is appropriate for youth.

Questions

  • Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling gives contracting nations the unrestricted right to take whales for scientific research. Greenpeace says crews from Japanese scientific research vessels routinely sell the meat of the whales captured and that the scientific claims are simply a cover-up. The Japan Whaling Association (JWA) claims their research is necessary and legal and that Greenpeace is guilty of harassment. How can we honor the passion that is evident on both sides? What is the primary concern of each side? What is the common ground between the two sides? How does passion influence action?
  • The JWA says they believe in laws to protect endangered species, but not all whale species are endangered. They conduct research into whale numbers to identify the species with large enough numbers to be hunted. They say that conservation laws can prevent species from being hunted into extinction. Is this a legitimate view or is whaling an "all-or-nothing" question? What factors need to be considered to evaluate the JWA position? Is there common ground?
  • Many in Japan claim, as does the JWA, that eating whale meat is a part of Japanese culture Westerners condemn only because it is not a part of theirs. They say Western countries hunted whales when they needed whale oil. Once whale oil was no longer needed, only then did the Western world become concerned about endangered whales. Greenpeace is working to convince the Japanese people to stop buying whale meat. They say if the market dries up, whaling will end because it's not profitable. Is the question of whaling in Japan a question about conservation, or cultures, or economics, or all three issues? Are there yet other issues involved? How can the issues be further defined so that they can be addressed? What action is needed to address the issues with respect for all the people involved?
  • Hunting is a very sensitive issue for many people. For some people, hunting is a strong part of their culture. Some others consider it morally wrong. What factors need to be considered in determining the place of hunting animals in a modern, mechanized society (like Japan or the United States)? Culture and economics are factors in the U.S. and Japan; and there is great variety of opinion in both countries.

Deeper Questions

  • Is there a culture associated with a part of your identity that others do not respect? It might be a culture related to belonging to a racial, ethnic, affectional orientation, gender, age and ability, or socio-economic class minority, or related to being a Unitarian Universalist? Do you ever feel this part of your identity or culture is rejected, or threatened? What does that feel like?
  • Japan, Norway, Iceland, and other countries are being asked to give up a part of their culture for the good of the world. Have you ever experienced a culture clash—where something that is a part of your culture clashed with the mainstream or someone else's culture or values? How did you react? Was the clash resolved objectively?

Optional Activity

  • Spend more time exploring the websites of Greenpeace USA, the Japan Whaling Association, or other organizations or agencies concerned with whaling. Can you find websites that attempt to provide impartial news and information, or do all the websites seemed slanted in one direction or another?
  • Write a prayer for the whales. You can post your prayer (and read the prayers of others) at the Prayers for the Whales website.

Check-Out

Closing

Use a closing ritual you created earlier. Or, extinguish the chalice and share this prayer:

We humbly ask the Universe (or fill in your choice) to create SAFETY, FREEDOM and SANCTUARY for ALL the WHALES in ALL the OCEANS NOW. Hear our prayers for the whales' survival and their right to exist. Open the minds and hearts of the World Leaders who govern our nations to the cries of the whale nations. Remind all humans of our obligations to future generations both human and non-human.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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