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Pritam Singh Addresses the Closing Plenary

Pritam Singh addresses the Closing Plenary at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA. The Closing Plenary was sponsored by The Fetzer Institute.

Recently, the World Wildlife Fund reported that between 1970 and 2020, there was a 69 percent decline in wildlife, 69 percent of mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles gone. That means they’re dead. That means they’re dead. To me, the fifth directive says, I have to take care of life, and the directive is not a suggestion. The directive is not a conversation. The directive is a written order.

It’s an order written in my heart, and it’s written in your heart, and every human being, when they’re born, has that directive written in their heart. The question for all of us here and everyday human beings is what are we going to do? The world, the natural world is dying. It’s dying. We’re killing it. We have to stop. When will we reach each individual one of us, the moment of obligation, the moment where we make the decision to have a transformative commitment?

Our motto in Sea Shepherd is conservation in action. Our motto is not conservation in conversation, although I must admit we have a lot of conservation in siege. But our goal, our challenge, our oath is to try to do what we can in action.

Our organization takes the fifth directive very seriously, and every single one of us tries to act on it every day. Our organization is like an ambulance service, an ER, an emergency room defending marine wildlife. And yes, we have caused as human beings so much destruction, but there is hope. Absolutely, positively, if we take action. 

Let me tell you a story about some actions that’s being taken right now. In the upper Gulf of California is a species called the vaquita. The vaquita are the single most endangered marine mammal in the world, and it comes about for one simple reason. Fishermen use nets that ensnare the vaquita and drown them and they die. And it’s also for one simple reason that there is a fish called a totoaba, that the fishermen illegally catch and sell to cartels, which are armed with automatic weapons on their boats and are in the Gulf. 

And every day, people who have written in their heart this directive, go out on ships and get between the fishermen and the cartels and joining with the Mexican Navy, prevent the death and destruction of the vaquita. Three years ago, the vaquita was predicted to be extinct today, but this year in a survey it was found that there had been no decrease in the vaquita in three years.

We are determined to be there every day, as long as it takes, whether it’s one year or ten or twenty to protect this species, the smallest purpose in the world. We have a world to protect. We all have to go on the front lines. However, we can in whatever capacity we have. We have to take action. 

This directive of caring for the earth is not a suggestion. It is an order. Just like it is a commandment and we have to take action. To do so please join us, come together in your own way and let’s please save this planet, which is our Mother. Thank you.

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