Publicador de contenidos

Back to opinion_CIE_20190608_oceano-sensibilidad

An ocean of sensitivity


Published in

Diario de Navarra

Jordi Puig Baguer

Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Navarre.

World Oceans Day. I, an inveterate lover of the mainland, a pedaling enthusiast, and a wearer of soles for the landscapes to which I cling, always in search and waiting for another of its aspects, will I have something to contribute about the immensity that I do not know, from the simple coastal admiration? Perhaps it will be enough to pay attention to two people who, with their stories, have given me (thanks to both of them!) the effect of their sensitivity, expressed in the meeting with specific oceanic creatures.

Mandy-Rae Cruickshank is a freediver. She has won eight world freediving championships. She can descend to 80 meters with a single breath and ascend on her own. The documentary "The Cove" sample shows Mandy swimming underwater with whales and dolphins. Curious and welcoming, they welcome her company with questioning acceptance. "It's one of the most incredible experiences you can have. It's awe-inspiring to have a wild creature come up to you and be interested in you. It's..., it's really incredible." At this point, words don't serve him as well as he would like. "I don't usually touch anything in the sea, but I had been swimming with a dolphin for a long time; I reached out my hand and he came towards it and stood there, in front of me, letting me stroke his belly. (...) he really wanted to be with us." I encourage you to watch the images that accompany these words, around the 32nd and 33rd minute of the documentary.

Mandy brought the memory of Sebastião Salgado to my mind at report. Many of us know about him. An economist by profession for some time, and a fortunate vocational photographer after receiving from Lélia Wanick, his spouse, the gift of a camera. Always with Lélia, they start their degree program in social photography. Sebastião will tackle subjects in the field that will put his life at risk. "In Rwanda I saw total brutality. I saw thousands of deaths daily. I lost faith in our species. I didn't believe it was possible for us to live much longer, and I began to be attacked by my own staphylococci. I started getting infections everywhere." He then went to see the doctor of a friend of his in Paris, who descended thus to the source of his ills: "You saw so many deaths that you are dying. You must stop. You must stop. You must stop because otherwise you will die". And he did stop; although already broken in many ways. Irreparably, perhaps?

Another providential intervention of Lélia would return him to contact with the lands of the family farm that saw him grow up. With work, both rescued them from deterioration and filled them with a life of their own that extends, as Wim Wenders' documentary "The Salt of the Earth" recounts. A renewed love is born, photographic, now for this Earth that we have all received equally, and for its less transformed places. So much beauty waiting...! On a happy day of his new attention, Sebastião will approach a whale in the Southern Ocean, with the waters totally calm. He could capsize the boat with a sudden movement. But she does not shy away from the photographer's approach. Sebastião extends his hand, which rests on the animal. And he is overwhelmed to perceive that the entire immensity of the mammal, from head to tail, shudders peacefully at the moment. Who would know how to look for and experience encounters and contacts in this way?

Sometimes it is necessary to go out into the natural world - the one at hand, perhaps in the geraniums on the balcony - not so much to harvest the necessary consumables, but to feed on its moral richness. There is something intimate to reality that is not imposed on us, where the respect we owe it is rooted. Perhaps it is beauty, sometimes difficult to see; "authentic beauty", as Vasili Grossman wrote. As long as our culture, and I with it, does not decide with efficiency staff, in each eligible gesture, to enrich us without impoverishing the earth or the others who live in it... something serious remains spoiled in our spirit. We raise palaces of a way and level of harmful consumption, to revert, to reinvent.

Two animals. Two people surrendering to their beauty, a gift. The environmental crisis is sustained by an ocean of insensitivity and ingratitude. Two animals: simple doors to investigate the ocean of moral richness with which beauty wants to flood us if we choose the due and possible care to each simple reality to respect, natural or specifically human. In every free occasion beats a harmony to be invented. In every real detail awaits the best opportunity to heal. Earth. Beauty. Commitment.