Photospeak | Befriend a Beluga Whale

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Has man really indeed evolved from ape? And that's not the question of a Creationist finally realising the truth. Read: How much has man actually EVOLVED if he still hasn't tamed the beast within?

Man has always been a beast. One that plays at being evolved, sure. But underneath it all, he is still driven by the animalistic urge for domination and control. And while this semblance of civilised living has made us shed the biological need for appendages that might aid us in physical combat like...

^ A model presents a creation by Chinese designer Hu Sheguang from Sheguang Hu collection at China Fashion Week in Beijing, March 31.

... claws, mandibles, horns, or tails, we continue to agress with technology, discrimination and other more destructive ways...

^ U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle perform a reading of the children's book Where the Wild Things Are for children gathered for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll at the White House in Washington on March 28.

... And United States President Barack Obama knew that when he cautioned, this week, that ISIS posed a massive threat to global security and that if they were to get the opportunity, and the raw material, they would not shrink from dropping nukes with the most devastating effect. And don't think he wasn't being facetiously frightening, like he and his wife Michelle seem here.

^ A rebel fighter jumps through a fire loop as he demonstrates his skill during a military display as part of a graduation ceremony at a camp in the north of Hama province, Syria, on March 31, 2016.

And the threat is definitely real. For, even as homo sapiens sacrificed the physiological appendages of a predator, it still continues to use its gains in terms of larger intellectual capacity for developing technology and organisations that have pretty predatorial agendas...

^ A Palestinian protester uses a sling to launch a tear gas canister, initially fired by Israeli troops, during clashes at a protest marking Land Day, near Israel's Ofer Prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah March 30, 2016. March 30 marks Land Day, the annual commemoration of protests in 1976 against Israel's appropriation of Arab-owned land in the Galilee.

But aggression is not endemic to predators alone. Really, when humans fight amongst one another in historical conflicts, it's hard to designate any one faction as the victim. Any organism justifiably turns bestial when threatened. And that makes for an oddly disconcerting scenario wherein violence can be perpetuated by someone who, being an aggrieved party, has morality on their side and thus cannot be outrightly condemned for taking up arms. Right?

^ Tanks parade to mark Armed Forces Day in Myanmar's capital Naypyitaw March 27.

Military might is something we celebrate. But if you follow George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, more popularly known by its television adaption Game of Thrones, you may be familiar with the philosophy that despite all the power you command, all the armies at your beck and call, winter is coming... for us all. When the Whitewalkers, personifications of death, ride in with their army of the indefatigable and immortal dead to rain down mindless carnage on the inhabitants of the valleys below them, none can fight back. But it's true, we shouldn't go around recommending pacifism to victims of brutal aggression. Pacifism has that drawback, where it renders you...

^ Inflatable dolls in the shape of ducks are seen in front of the National Congress during a protest against tax increases in Brasilia, Brazil, on March 29. The campaign "I will not pay the Duck" is organised by the Federation of Industries of Sao Paulo (FIESP) and uses the duck symbol in reference to industries that pay high taxes.

... sitting ducks, at the mercy of your merciless predators.

^ Spanish banderillero Antonio Jimenez "Lili" is gored by a bull during a bullfight at The Maestranza bullring in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain, on March 27.

To be fair to those indulging in war in our very non-fictitious world, though, it's not like a lot global conflict is inconsequential — there are often very valid economic or geopolitical reasons behind it. But can we condone violence simply for sport? Bullfights, and other similar public activities that often involve animal cruelty, are widely held to be full of sheer gratuitous risk for the sake of entertainment. Attack may be justified if it's counterattack, which is a form of defence, but we need to make sure there is good reason behind the violence, that the dispute isn't possible to settle through dialogue, and that mortal combat is the last resort...

^ Men throw water on a woman as part of traditional Easter celebrations in Szenna, Hungary, March 28.

... Because if it's fun and games you want, the world is full of options that do not end in gored groins.

^ West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell is full of adrenaline after he strikes the winning runs against India during the World T20 semifinal in Mumbai on Thursday, March 31.

Then again, bestial aggression is not really an absolute ill. When not being channelised into murderous behaviour, aggression really manifests as passion and energy. In the sports arena, you could do with a bit of bestial aggression. The sheer relentless drive to succeed can bring out the best of a sportsman's potential...

^ Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim cuts down the net and waves to the crowd after defeating the Virginia Cavaliers in the championship game of the midwest regional of the NCAA Tournament at the United Center. | Photo: Dennis Wierzbick

... And.... yes. Also, it can make you do things on the sports arena that, in hindsight, you may consider stupid and un-net-cessary.

^ Kenyan Member of Parliament Millie Odhiambo screams in protest as she storms out of the National Assembly during President Uhuru Kenyatta's annual State of the Nation address at the Parliament Buildings in the capital Nairobi, March 31. Ms. Odhiambo raised cain against Kenyatta's policies and alleged he was flouting constitutional norms.

Ok. Again, yes. Not everything done out of aggression is stupid and unnecessary. Sometimes, channelling your inner beast and throwing a tantrum and stomping your feet and holding your breath threatening to pass out can be a very effective way of getting what you want...

... As a little toddler might tell you. But then again, as a simple-minded toddler, your tantrums are harmless. Because, mostly what you're after are acquisitions that have very limited global ramifications — a toy, a candybar, an innocent analysis of coloured powder...

^ Two sisters wait to sit on a donkey before joining in the "Virgem da Atalaia" procession during Holy Week at Alcochete, near Lisbon, Portugal, on March 27. Women ride on donkeys during the "Virgem da Atalaia" procession, that has been held annually for about 400 years. In the past, only single women rode the donkeys to ask for help from the Virgin to find a husband.

... But innocence is not always to be condoned. The lines between innocence and ignorance are often blurred. What a child may set his heart on, not realising that it is unfair and irrational, may also involve the subjugation of a fellow creature.

^ Children ride camels during "Temeenii bayar", the Camel Festival, in Dalanzadgad, Umnugobi aimag, Mongolia. On the steppes of the Gobi Desert, the crowd urges on Bactrian camels laden down with all that's needed to build and live in a traditional Mongolian tent. Guinness World Records classes the 15-km race, which is part of the two-day festival, as the largest camel race in the world, drawing 1,108 participants. The winning camel romped home in 35 minutes and 12 seconds, according to the records website.

We figure that man has the moral right to use beasts to fulfil his ends. And this, perhaps, is where it becomes clear that we lack a little bit of enlightenment. You see, employing the less-intelligent animals — autonomous creatures that roam the earth the same as us — as beasts of burden is merely another form of predation: enslavement. It simply makes use of the "might makes right" principle — the very logic that leads to and perpetuates violence.

^ A Beluga whale and a trainer interact during a performance at Tianjin Haichang Polar Ocean World in Tianjin, on April 1.

In the end, perhaps the best way to interact with beasts — the inner kind and those of the animal kingdom — is to live with them. For as long as we are in conflict with the beast, we will continue to remain the beast that we are. Best thing to do is befriend a Beluga Whale.

All Photos: Reuters

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