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Ray McGovern: From Whales Learn This Lesson

From the Whales Learn This Lesson

By Ray McGovern

I know not everyone believes in God. But I do; and I’m really struck by the ways she chooses to penetrate our thick skulls.

So often we just don’t get it. To help us understand, allegory or parable is chosen—and sometimes leviathans.

Two wrong-way whales, a mother and her calf, are literally up the river—the Sacramento River. They are injured, and apparently almost deaf as well. The gurgles, chirps, whistles and banging on metal pipes by us humans are not enticing them to reverse course and escape.

Scientists report that attempts to save misguided whales with such sounds fail 90 percent of the time. This time, they add, the whales are so far up the river that scientists and whales alike are in uncharted territory. “We can’t have very high expectations of a positive outcome,” one of them of the scientists, that is.

Mother and young are going in circles near the Sacramento River bridge, while boat crews are banging on pipes to get their attention and persuade them to cut and run for the Pacific some 70 miles away. Scientists theorize that vibrations from the bridge are upsetting the whales.

The pipe-bangers are trying to bang carefully, so as not to stress them further. Brian Gorman, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned, “Stressing even a healthy whale is not good; stressing an injured whale is worse.”


From the parable of the whales draw this lesson.

The wrong-way mother and calf are our injured vice president and president respectively, who are up the Tigris and Euphrates without a paddle—with no ears to hear the noises of those trying to save them from themselves. No gurgles, chirps, whistles, or banging seems able to get through. Like the copious white matter in whale-brains, theirs is impervious to all suggestion as to how they could extract themselves from an otherwise fatal situation.

Good-sense-and-otherwise-sensory-deprived, only their olfactory faculty is working. Their very instinct for survival has been overcome by a pungent smell.

The only sounds that do break through the din of banging pipes and warnings of disaster are those of corporate sirens up-river. The sirens are singing enticing songs from lily pads stuck together by a pungent, oily substance that holds irresistible attraction for our metaphoric leviathans.

It may a bit dangerous to stress them further, but the alternative is sure disaster—and not only for them.


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