‘A matter of life and death.’ A concerned young boy asks me if I can help free a great lobster. My answer may surprise you

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Readers, as someone with millions of readers worldwide I receive a good many comments and responses, some silly, some insightful, some profound. Today’s article is a response to a letter I just received from “Timmy” in Orleans, Massachusetts…. He has taken pen to paper (actually fingers to keyboard) to write thus:

“Hello, Dr. Lant. I am 8 years old and care about our planet. The other day I saw an article in the Boston Globe about a 21-pound lobster which was caught in our town. I think that lobster, which was handed over to the New England Aquarium, should be freed. My father (who helped me with this message) told me to write to you being one of your fans. He says that you’ll have something sensible to say on the matter. I think the lobster should go free. What do you think?”

My response.

First of all, Timmy, I want to thank you, not just for writing me but for your concern about the future of our distressed planet Earth. You may know that I regularly write on that subject, for I too care deeply about our planetary home.

Second, I want to thank you for writing such a nice, clear message. Most people your age would have made that message unclear and muddled by using what we now call a text message, that is a message composed of abbreviations, symbols, and made-up letter and word formulations whose meaning is known only to the texter and follows no known standard.

I regard such messaging as an abomination and an attack on what is arguably the most important contribution we humans have made to our collective welfare, that is the gift of language. And more precisely the English language, now the language of all the educated people on Earth, people like you. Because of the importance of language, we must fight to sustain it… therefore I urge you to continue your correct usage and maintain the proper features of our sublime, lyric, supremely practical language. I say bully for you!

Finally, I want to say how good it is to see you working with your father on this project. As you probably know even better than I do, young people often see their ” ‘rents ” as nothing more than a convenient if irritating meal ticket… At school, at play, it is the usual, the fashionable thing to denigrate parents, deriding, belittling, everything said a put-down, the better to be thought “wicked cool.”

But this is not cool, wicked or otherwise. This, I know, is easier said than done; after all, I was eight year’s old once… as your father was. But keep this in mind: it’s always easier to criticize and get the cheap laugh than to be constructive. Your policy must be different because you’ve got brains and sensitivity. Aim at all times to “Honor Thy Parents”, even when they are bugging you the most. Remember, this is the first time in their lives they’ve had to master the important subject of — YOU. Your help in this endeavor at all times is necessary… and appreciated!

Now, we must get down to the business at hand… for this is a matter of life and death.

“Will you come and join the dance”?

The answer to your fine query, Master Tim, begins in rethinking the matter of lobsters, to understanding them and their place in the universe. Most people don’t do so; they see a lobster as a thing that goes from the sea into a scalding pot thence into a waiting and expectant stomach. But here, I assure you, they are short-sighted and ill-informed. We shall begin where these laggards leave off… with the fact lobsters love to dance… See for yourself. Go to any search engine. Look for the 1999 film version of “Alice in Wonderland”, based on the celebrated books by Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (1865) and “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There” (1871 ).

Knowing how much raw energy you have, you will want to learn all the steps to the intricate ‘Lobster Quadrille” as described by the Mock Turtle. You will see what most people have not only never seen but never even knew existed…an elaborate Court dance which even kings and princes did not disdain. You see, the lobsters we think are so slow moving and awkward seem so only because we see them in our environment, trapped, their claws bound, no vestige of dignity. They are then just so many pounds of boiled meat… and at such a distressful moment the agile and graceful figures of a quadrille are not of first importance.

Ah, but when they are free, in their own expansive home, how they enjoy themselves… leaping, cavorting, every movement practiced, perfected, the better to dazzle their rapt audience. And do please note this: it is the lobsters who are thrown highest in the figure… a matter of exacting perfection and precision done to these lyrics:

” ‘Will you walk a little faster?’ / Said a whiting to a snail/ ‘ There’s a porpoise close behind us / And he’s treading on my tail / See how eagerly the lobsters / And the turtles all advance / They are waiting on the shingle / Won’t you come and join the dance?’ ”

But they can only dance as they should if they are free, untrammeled, for the fact they are free gives them a zest and exuberance no captured creature can ever feel and always pines to have. On this basis alone, our giant crustacean, the master of many dances over his long strand of life (which locals estimate at 150 years), deserves the chance for 150 more. Thus, right from the moment he was caught near your home the good people of your neighborhood have paused before ending this life. This includes the gentleman who bid $3,400 to keep him alive, the money generously donated to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

He has lived, they remind each other, majestic and condescending, since the days of the American Civil War, going about his business with more peace and tranquility than we humans have gone about ours. He should be given life, not the cooking pot. He should be taken into the ice blue waters of our Massachusetts Bay and saluted as he slides into the waters of a world where he is a personage of grandeur and awe.

But, Tim, this doesn’t feel quite right either, and perhaps the lobster knows this. Surely, he wants freedom… every wild creature wants and deserves it, for their rights are ancient and fundamental. However, remember this, in the wild they live daily at risk, not least from humans less sensible and sensitive than we are. They will promptly kill, thereby ending all… only to be hungry again in just hours. Fortunately, the Solons at the New England Aquarium have a solution to this problem, which may suit the old fellow just fine and provide the respect he deserves.

Visiting Professor.

You see, we humans need the knowledge that is inherent in this lobster. His long life suggests a superiority of reproductive capacity, and so he is protected by state and federal laws. We need to know what he knows, and the best way to get it is by honoring his wisdom, making him as comfortable as possible, studying him the while.

Thus our lobster has already gained his own huge tank, a true think tank where he resides in amplitude. He must by law undergo a routine thirty day quarantine, and he does not object, for he wants his species healthy, too. During this time, he can be ogled and clearly seen, admired by humans who are naturally curious about a denizen come to us from places little known and vast. He is a time traveler, and we want to know more of what he’s seen and how he did it.

Thus, let him stay amongst us for a time, until he has told us all he can. Then release him to total freedom with all its risks and rewards, one of these being, of course, the quadrille which is his to dance as only he can do.

I hope this answer pleases you. And while our visiting professor resides among us at the New England Aquarium, be sure to visit and tell him what we advise. He will be glad to know he has a friend like you — and me.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today at http://www.Worldprofit.com

To see Dr. Lant’s blog go to www.jeffreylantarticles.com