Tuna Kindness

27 “But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. 30 Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. 31 Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you (Luke 6:27-31, Common English Bible).

When summertime comes around Cindy and I often binge watch (we don’t go crazy and stay up all night or anything) but when the television is on we are either watching the news or watching some season by season show. Earlier this summer we watched a British show set during World War II called Foyle’s War. When we finished it we discovered Wicked Tuna.

We just finished season four last night. In season three and season four T.J. Ott and the crew of the Hot Tuna did several favors for Dave Carraro and his boat FV Tuna.com.

First, when Carraro was out a long way from home and ran low on water and ice, Ott helped him out. For me, that would have been the bigger deal. For a professional tuna fisherman, it was not. When Carraro’s boat was struggling and hadn’t caught a fish in a couple of weeks, Ott had just loaded up, told Carraro where he was fishing. Both would, in my humble opinion count as acts of kindness.

Ott went back into port to sell his catch. When he came back out, he got on the radio and asked Carraro if they were having an lock. Carraro had one fish on the deck. He lied, telling Ott that they hadn’t seen anything because he didn’t want any of the other boats to hear where the fish were biting. To say Ott and his crew were upset would be an understatement.

I am first to admit that I am not a professional fisherman. I am not really a fisherman at all. I like to fish but I rarely get out and do any real fishing. It has probably been at least 10 years since I have gone fishing. But, as I remember it, it was pretty common for those out fishing to share where they had caught fish and what bait they had used to catch them. Most told the truth, the others, who knows, the fish may have decided they were hungry for something else.

The one thing that, at least as the television show presented it, Dave Carraro wasn’t honest and repaid someone’s kindness with unkindness and lies. It is wrong.

I do understand that for all those fishing on the show the name of the game is to make money. They want to land the biggest fish with the best quality of meat possible so they get the biggest paycheck they can. This is how they make their living and they all want to make a good living to provide for how they will live when it isn’t tuna season.

What I find the most troubling is, they are all competing for a title that was probably made up by the show’s producers. This title is about which boat makes the most money in the season. It means nothing other than bragging rights. There is no money. There is no trophy. There is nothing there but to be able to brag until next tuna season and kindness goes out the window for that?

I know people are competitive and yes, I am probably being more than a bit naive. But, in one episode one boat was low on bait. They asked another boat which told them “no.” The first captain was unhappy and said something (I don’t remember what but based on the show as a whole, I feel certain fowl language was part of it). So as the second boat passed by they started throwing bait fish at the first boat. It was childish and resulted in an ever-escalating series of paybacks.

In another episode the captain of one boat decided he was going to pop the anchor ball on a second boat. Again, it was childish. The result of this one was close to the two captains going to blows.

I will say that all these events took place a few years ago. But, as polarized as our society has become over the past close to 20 years, we need to find ways to come together and not further divide ourselves over fish and imaginary titles.

Our lesson for today finishes by saying, “Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you.” It seems pretty obvious to me after watching how angry each got when they were the victim, they were not treating each other the way they wanted to be treated.

The one person who has made a case for kindness on the show to this point is Captain Dave Marciano, owner and captain of the Hard Merchandise. In the final episode of season 2, Marciano finds the Hard Merchandise sunk at the pier. In the season premiere for season 3, Marciano talks about how the Gloucester community had his back and stood behind him in his time of need. When he was in need of a part, it showed up. The people of Gloucester came through for him several times over during his crisis. While none of this kindness was actually seen, that it was part of the narrative was pretty important. By the description, the people of Gloucester treated Dave Marciano the way they would want to be treated.

Really, the bottom line is, the show is reality television which likely means there is little, if any reality, beyond catching tuna involved with the show. As a reality television show, it is vital for the network (National Geographic) to create tension on the show. As a result, these stunts may well be scripted but as an advocate for kindness in a world that needs to see it, it does bother me. It would be my hope that in reality as opposed to reality entertainment, these guys would be more supportive of each other than the show allows.

Be blessed.

Seeking the Genuine (and Wicked Tuna probably isn’t it),

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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