I went for a run along the East River yesterday. I passed a group of fisherman. One of them must have caught a fish and left it alive, flapping around on the floor next to his tackle box. The fish was bleeding out of a belly wound. I slowed down and contemplated interfering. However, since my experience with these situations has been that I end up in a fight, I decided to mind my own business.
On my way back, still running, I decided that if the fish was still alive and flapping around I was going to stop and confront the fisherman.
Well the fish was still flopping, had lost a lot of blood by now and the fisherman was seemingly unaware of this gruesome scenario. So I stopped and said to the fisherman: “Please kill this fish now or throw it back into the water. And if you don’t, I will. You are torturing the fish. This is against the law, and I will also call the cops.”
The Asian fisherman did not understand what I was saying until one of his buddies came to translate and I used sign language. He then reluctantly picked up the fish and snapped its neck. I said thank you and bowed to the fisherman. At that point all the fishermen were standing around us and it turned into a bowing fest.
I smiled, said thank you again and resumed my run.
I led my interference with “please”, I smiled and I bowed. I attribute the outcome of this story to CCT class. It contains in itself many aspects of what compassion training has been teaching us.
I thanked the fish.
Christopher Stager is a writer and landscape architect living in New York City.