The blue married the green—that’s how I always pictured it as a kid during tropical summer vacations back in my hometown in the Philippines. Holding my snorkel mask in one hand, I would gaze at the sea while trying to imagine the long forgotten romance of the stationary earth and the ever-moving ocean: how these two entities came to be, how they first met.
Now, as an adult, I realize that we human beings play a significant part in their ongoing story—a role we are often completely oblivious about.
Crisis On The Vast Blue
The ocean has provided us with an invaluable food source as well as pathways to travel and transport industrial supplies. Along the ocean shores, we have built cities, ports, bridges and factories. The ocean made globalization possible. But now, the ocean is in a critical state, which will ultimately affect the earth and us.
Many of our actions have seriously limited the ocean’s capacity for renewal. We’ve spewn black clouds and fumes of chemicals into the air that have now settled in the ocean; as a result, our planet is heating up, the polar ice caps are melting, and the sea-levels are rising. Our cities near the shores will be submerged. My home country, the Philippines, and other smaller island countries will be the ones most affected.
Our overfishing has caused unmanageable stresses on already endangered marine life; some species have already gone extinct due to our activities. Deep-sea exploration for fuel has even distressed much of the marine biosphere that we have yet to understand or identify.
The ocean is highly sensitive and with so much ignorance and exploitation, yet no voice of its own, it can only endure the consequences. But if these trends continue, won’t these consequences just fall back on us in the end?
A Reciprocal Principle
The ocean is an alliance of life, geology and chemistry—a vast marine prairie where each living entity is organized down to the smallest detail. It interconnects with the web of the ecosystem off of which we, being at the top of the food chain, live. It relates to us through this principle, in a manner of reciprocal giving and receiving.
For Unificationists, this principle is not an unfamiliar one. Father Moon, who himself adored and studied the ocean, stated that the ocean’s potential and the future of the fishing and aquatic industries are unlimited. He believed that if we reciprocate responsibly with the ocean, it will manifest this unlimited potential.
The ocean has been reaching out to us to honor this principle. Yet the facts show that we have done little to respond to its plea. We have endeavored to shape the earth in our image through the gates of the ocean and stretched them both far beyond their limits, so we can’t rely on the notion that the natural world will heal itself.
However, if we recognize our role in the story of the ocean and the earth–that we are not consumers but contributors–we can still become the ocean’s voice. We can speak for its needs and take up the task of maintaining this natural gift of the world. Just as we are products of the love and care of our ancestors, we can certainly become the nurturing caretakers and stewards of this great element.
Our Oceanic Opportunity
As intelligent and heartistic beings, we are blessed with the sensitivity to care and the capacity to love and respect our surroundings; we have the ability to observe, think, speak, and affect change. In many ways, we can be the ocean’s voice it never had, and never needed until now.
Some of the steps we can take right away to help the ocean heal are to recycle what we can and to sort our waste properly. We can also call on the fishing industry to respect fishing quotas and to end the subsidization of extensive industrial fishing. We can promote small-scale fishing and buy eco-labeled fish. To protect marine biodiversity, we can also respectfully protest destructive deep-sea fuel-seeking projects.
Everything depends on our own personal efforts. Once we can speak on behalf of the ocean and live with the interests of the natural world at the forefront of our minds, we will inspire other individuals, too, and can eventually create a community that reciprocates harmoniously with the ocean.
We have an ethical responsibility to preserve the ocean, a natural gift that was set in place long before our time. The ocean is a complex element in an intricate world, but our actions can open the endless possibilities for our world and our future.