Sacred Turtle, Sacred World

An interesting paradox regarding two articles both about turtles showed up in the news this weekend. One article describes how fifty Vietnamese made a singular effort to save an over 80 year turtle that was sick secondary to the pollution in a fresh water lake in Hanoi. A second article describes the death of numerous sea turtles, many endangered, washed up onto the beaches in the Gulf of Mexico that many are highly suspicious may be secondary to the Gulf Oil spills and the subsequent toxins.

The first article states that “Thousands of onlookers cheered at Hoan Kiem Lake as the mammoth creature was pulled in after escaping capture last month.” It was taken to a “turtle hospital” to be cared for. The concern over the effect that the pollution in the lake caused for this turtle prompted “the government to form committees and employ hundreds of workers to frantically clean debris and pollution from the lake”.

Apparently there is a myth about this endangered fresh water turtle that dates back hundreds of years whereby it apparently helped a Vietnamese King fend off foreign invaders. Some believe it is the same turtle.  

Yet, in the Gulf of Mexico, suspicion as to cause of the death of possibly hundreds of turtles, as well as dolphins and countless other marine animals is being dispersed so as to not look at the potentially obvious cause. In one case the illness of one endangered turtle caused thousands to be concerned for its welfare and stimulated the government to clean up the pollution in the lake. In the other case, debates are stirred up in the media seemingly to create doubt and locals are concerned that little is being done beyond necropsies to evaluate for toxins or oil ingestion. The article in the Huffington Post quotes “It’s about as ridiculous as anything else I heard during this whole oil spill,” said Louisiana Shrimp Association President Clint Guidry….. I guess they’ve run out of excuses after saying everything is being killed by dead zones and algae, so now they need to blame us.” We are grateful that the Natural Resources Defense Council  ( and the Huffington Post posted this news.

Two environmental pollution issues, two different paths taken. Why?

I ponder what the difference is. Why would one society be so moved by one turtle that it would stimulate the cleanup of a polluted lake and in another society, where hundreds are dying, the blame and doubt goes round and round, with little being accomplished.  I just wonder. In one society, the awareness stimulates motivation for more respect for the environment, the sacred turtle being a wake up call for a more sacred, respected world. In another society……?
It reminds me of when I was a child living in a basement room in a city, sharing the room with my turtles in a small aquarium, where they were my most treasured companions. I remembered how guilty I would feel if I had not cleaned their water in a few days and it was getting a bit murky. In this little microcosmic environment, I was the one responsible for the cleanup and maintenance of their water environment. If I did not clean it up, it would get filthy.  Is it possible for corporations  to feel this level of responsibility  for where they work? Can they truly develop a level of environmental responsibility and respect?

As we create a more compassionate society, let us emulate a culture where the sacred turtle is the wake up call for cleaning up their environment, not a culture of corporate narcissism. In a more compassionate society, let us care for and respect the environment as if we and our next seven generations depended on it. Guess what? We do! I look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions.

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