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CVA Weekly Newsletter
November 6, 2013

  1. Activist Report
  2. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
  3. Statement on Fishing

1. Activist Report
I leafleted at Acquire the Fire in Cleveland and distributed about 200 CVA booklets. The young audience was generally quite receptive, and I even got a hug from one attendee who was delighted to see CVA at this event.
Steve Kaufman

2. This Week’s Sermon from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
Protecting the Temple of God

3. Statement on Fishing
by Phil Whitehead
As I child, I anticipated our family’s annual trip to a cottage in northern Ontario because of its opportunities for fishing.  Bass, perch and – by chance - pike could be caught in the lake that was abundant with fish.
I enjoyed the feel of the fish nibbling at the bait, followed by the tug against the line after the fish had been caught and was being drawn to the surface.  But then, at about the age of ten, my attitude began to change.  That sensation, formerly enjoyable, began to feel weird.  Creepy even.
My change of reaction included the recognition that I was torturing the fish by pulling its entire body mass at the point of a puncture wound caused by a narrow piece of metal that had pierced its skin.   When the fish was pulled to the surface, the significant tearing of the skin in the region of the mouth was apparent.  I started to become disturbed at the sight.
Only those fish caught of a legally specified minimum length were killed and eaten, while smaller fish were released back into the water.  The assumption behind releasing those fish was that the animals would resume their normal lives and grow into fully-grown and healthy fish.  However, a fishing session that lasted for any length of time proved this assumption to be incorrect.  Many of those small fish that were released eventually floated to the surface, dead from their injuries.
I rationalized my fishing by assuming that a fish felt no pain because it showed no facial expression.  However, a fish fighting against the line, and thrashing endlessly after being brought into the boat, belied that rationalization.
The final step in my growing disdain for fishing was the realization that the process started by my psychological torturing of the fish. A worm, other creature or lure was placed before the fish as bait. The hungry fish, seeking to fulfill its need for food, was deceived into biting into the bait on the assumption that its hunger was about to be sated.  One terrifying moment later, it found itself in pain as an unknown object and force pulled it upward.  It struggled in fright and panic to release itself, usually to no avail.  If it did succeed in extricating itself from capture, it carried a grievous wound.
Did I really want to treat animals this way? Was this how I wanted to live and think? Would my interaction with fish not be more enriching if it took the form of looking down into the lake, on a placid morning or evening, and simply watching the fish living within their environment?
Looking back at those childhood days, my initial enjoyment of fishing probably was the result of my acceptance of a common practise in this society.
The popularity of fishing suggests that the recreational killing of fish – more so than of land or avian animals, for some reason - has become engrained into this culture as a commendable means for achieving the necessary release of personal stress.   Persons of high standing have conducted numerous photo opportunities of themselves fishing.  The act of subjecting a fish to a protracted death process is purported to be an act of relaxation that re-energizes them for public service.  It demonstrates their ability to leave behind temporarily the burdens of state.
In a recent example (July, 2013), Russian President Vladimir Putin was photographed holding a 21 kg. (46 lb.) pike in Siberia.
Lech Walesa, when he was leader of the Solidarity labour movement in Poland during the 1980s, allowed himself to be filmed on a fishing trip.  He stated that he was getting away from the incessant demands of leading a movement that challenged the Communist regime.
President George H.W. Bush demonstrated fly fishing techniques to a group of school children. President George W. Bush smiled while brandishing collections of dead fish before press corps cameras during fishing outings to bolster his implied claim to having not abandoned the thought forms of ordinary citizens after ascending to an extraordinary office.  Vice-President Dick Cheney frequently was photographed fishing with his buddies.
Here in Canada, politicians have staged photo opportunities of themselves fishing to establish their "ordinary guy" credentials: Bob Rae, while a member of parliament, spent an afternoon fishing with a comedian for a segment of a television program; Preston Manning (a politician who, incidentally, attempted overtly to integrate his evangelical faith into his approach to national affairs) published in his memoirs a picture of himself and others standing beside a float plane after the conclusion of a fishing expedition; Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto bragged about fishing with Prime Minister Stephen Harper; and Mayor Hazel McCallion of Mississauga reeled in a salmon from Lake Ontario to attest to her ongoing ability to lead the city at the age of 92.
So associated is fishing with relaxation that the expression "gone fishing" is a euphemism for renouncing the accumulated stresses of life by entering retirement.
I still have not identified what prompted my change in attitude toward fishing.  However, at an early age, I rejected the conditioning that society had imposed upon me and that I initially had accepted “hook, line and sinker.”

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