Today I’m going to start this entry on a happy note, by thanking a local shop owner. I was buying bamboo plants at the market, because my idea of new plants for spring revolves around plants that are hard to kill. I was having a good day, feeling productive and making casual conversation with the woman at the till. I turn, and my power chair stops, dead. I look behind me and see the unthinkable, the cord that hooks my control panel to the batteries is on the ground, under my back tire, and damaged beyond repair.
Trying to ward off a feeling of impending doom, I stay calm, and manage to help the two florists put the chair in manual to get it off the cord. One glance confirmed what I’d already suspected; there was no way it was going to fit in the control box. After several attempts to try and make it fit anyway, the florist who wasn’t at the till breaks out the phonebook and starts helping me look up phone numbers for all the wheelchair repair shops in town, but they all had a one to two hour wait. I thought I was screwed.
The florist then moved me and my chair to a place in the store where I would be more comfortable, bearing in mind hat this is an indoor market, with customers gawking as they walk by. Then the superhero florist saved my day. He realized that the cord I broke was actually like an extension cord, and by removing it and attaching the control box to a smaller cord, I could get my chair going. I was able to get on with my day thanks to that florist’s ingenuity and compassion. Though that was not a perfect moment, it definitely could’ve been much worse. In his own words he earned his Boy Scout badge, and in my opinion, a regular customer.
Thanks to my renewed mobility, I was able to see a film called Sharkwater at the local library. I was never really big on sharks, and I didn’t know much about the film, but it looked like something interesting to do. It turned out to be an act of serendipity.
This Canadian made, recent documentary looks at sharks in a way most of us probably never have. Despite their size, sharks are far more afraid of us then we are of them. They are not a threat to us, unless humans wipe them out. Sharks play an important part in the natural balance of life on Earth. By eating other animals they allow plankton to thrive; the plankton in turn pump oxygen into the atmosphere. Sharks have been on the planet before land animals were little more than cell masses, and have shaped evolution forcing other species to adapt. Despite our fear, sharks and humans know very little about each other, and they are too shy to come near divers. They know they’re not equipped to hunt us.
Sharks are not interested in harming us, yet humans seem focused on wiping them out. There is money to be made in shark fins, and harmful fishing practices. While animal rights groups were focused on “cute” creatures like sea lions, who eat fish just as ferociously as sharks do, the sharks were allowed to die. It was a good thing I sat in the back, because I cried several times during the film. When I was exploring vegetarianism I was on the fence about fish, but not anymore. Through my ignorance I had passively allowed this pain to continue, and I felt a terrible sense of guilt.
The reason I’m writing tonight goes deep than sharks and florists; it’s about compassion. In Western culture we tend to see others as mainly looking out for themselves or capitalist gain, but from what I’ve seen in life this feels more like a self fulfilling prophecy. If we expect others to be heartless, how do we care for them, or the world around us? The fear that builds has jaded many, and has even started wars
If there is anyone reading this article, please consider this. If you see something you don’t understand, someone who needs help, ask about it.