Image courtesy of of Katrina Love
Compassion towards Barnett is by no means an easy challenge. It’s difficult to have empathy for a man whose idea of co-existence is to smile for the cameras whilst yielding baited hooks which are intended to kill living beings. Consequently, ‘compassion’ and ‘Barnett’ do not frequently appear in the same sentence within my vocabulary.
Image courtesy of Goran Martinovic
If however, I am to practice what I preach for all living beings, then I have to find the space in my heart to have compassion for Barnett, even if he is a conservative egocentric Imperialist who fails to listen to the general public in his own agenda of power acquisition. But wait, I digress. This blog is about compassion for all, even the fascists 😉
And so I took this waning need for compassion towards Barnett and wrote him a polite letter (I won’t post the rather hostile letter I sent him several weeks ago), hoping to appeal to his diminished sense of humanity and concern for all life. Whilst I’ll share this letter at the end of this post (along with his contact details in case you feel moved to do so), I wanted to mention some of the beautiful gems that are slowly revealing themselves in light of this controversial issue.
For the second time this year, thousands of West Australians gathered on Cottesloe Beach to voice their opposition to Barnett’s reactionary shark cull. Sea Shepherd’s Managing Director Jeff Hansen told SBS news:
“Ten years ago we may have only had a handful of people on the beach speaking out for sharks and now we’ve got regular people – mums, dads, average people that aren’t working in conservation, talking about biodiversity, talking about apex predators and talking about the importance of sharks in our oceans.”
Western Australia is an extremely conservative state and we rarely see this type of activism, which is far more typical over east. To see thousands of people stand in protest on Cottesloe beach as a united voice for marine life, fills my heart with overwhelming joy and a love so deep, it extends well beyond words. I can only hope that Barnett was as moved by the dedication and compassion of the Western Australian public, and perhaps harness some of this courage to begin to reflect on his actions and credibility as Premier of the state. As Bo Bennett so aptly said: ‘It is not our mistakes that define who we are; it is how we recover from those mistakes’ – wise words that Barnett could certainly learn from.
And so I will leave you now with my letter to Barnett, in the hope that it may inspire you to speak out for what you believe in and know to be intrinsically right and just.
Dear Mr. Barnett
I am writing to you as one of the growing majority of Western Australians who oppose the reactionary shark cull policy. Whilst I believe your intentions to protect the West Australian public are well-meaning, pre-emptively killing sharks is a response based on emotion rather than of scientific data, with some 100 shark scientists already writing to you to outline the floors in this policy.
As Western Australians for Shark Conservation founder Ross Weir told TIME magazine recently: “While the rest of the world is turning to shark conservation, our government is sticking their head in the sand, ignoring all the experts and employing an archaic strategy. What they are doing is illegal and violates 15 different United Nations conventions and treaties”. Perhaps what is more alarming, is apart from the devastating effects the drum lines will have on the marine eco-system, the growing body of evidence indicates that there is indeed, no scientific proof that shark culling works.
“It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character.”
In western society Mr. Barnett, we have traditionally been taught that a leader should hide weaknesses and not admit to mistakes. The danger of that belief, especially when it is held by people in positions of power, is that it backs a leader into defending their poor choices, even when they themselves have come to recognise they have made a mistake. New managerial and leadership research indicates that admitting mistakes and taking corrective action can be a powerful opportunity for leaders to build trust and commitment from their followers. This quality is very rare in leaders however, I believe would be invaluable to you in regaining the trust and respect of the West Australian public.
I implore you to listen to the majority of West Australians whom elected you to represent them Mr. Barnett, to show the courage to admit your mistake, and the resilience to make amends. There are many successful, non-lethal approaches to shark control which would not only earn you the respect from the West Australian public, but protect the delicate balance of West Australia’s marine life.
You can read about the facts about why a shark cull will not work here. If you
are moved to write to Colin Barnett, here are his contact details: