I have to admit in my old age I have gotten…disheartened I guess would be the best word. There was a time when I was young and
judgemental passionate and thought I could change the world. As I have gotten older I tend not to worry so much about everything, even though the world is clearly going to hell in a hand basket. I guess I stopped believing people could change the world. Which sucks balls…as I still believe one person can make a difference and that all the singles added together make a massive movement. Unfortunately until recently I have had little interest in sustainability or where our food comes from or even the environment. After all we don’t have a car…aren’t we doing the best thing for the environment just by not driving? Some of it was laziness, some was sticking my head in the sand, some was ignorance but a lot of it was I had so much on my plate just managing to survive from one day to the next I couldn’t possible take on another worry.
I have volunteered and done charity work since I was five. No one in my family was particularly surprised when I started my own (which is now running without my involvement successfully…it’s my legacy to the world I guess). I have attended rallys and made posters and ranted about how the world needs to change now. I have tried where I can to make little changes but the past two years saw me loose faith in pretty much all of it. But today I got a little bit of hope. Maybe the world can be changed one little bit at a time.
Today we organised an excursion for our little homeschool group to the “Steve Irwin” boat which is part of the Sea Shepherd organisation. Not all that surprising to me was it didn’t have as big a turn out as I would normally get for an excursion (like when I organised for us to visit HMAS Castlemaine – a WWII Navy ship. Our group was so big we had to be split into four smaller groups) I guess people don’t see the environment as something too important (there is the judgemental side of me coming out again…maybe I am not ancient just yet). But though the group consisted of just five families it was without a doubt the single best excursion we have done this year. The crew were engaging, didn’t mind the fact that some of our kids had special needs (ie. couldn’t wait for him to finish talking before asking another question…a few of our group have various Autism Spectrum Disorders including my Miss 11), answered every single question to the best of their ability, shared little bits of trivia, managed to get the kids to remember it by playing little games and did so for payment in fruit & vege.
I have to admit I felt emotional during some of the discussions. I don’t know that I was the only person about to cry…I wasn’t about to look up and risk totally embarrassing my girls (who are at the age now where my mere existence is an embarrassment enough) and myself. But I am an emotional person and hearing about a guy running over this hill because he heard what sounded like humans screaming (it was actually whales being slaughtered) was just awful. Did you know that whalers target mummy whales because whales are such tight family groups? The babies won’t leave the mums and the dads keep trying to protect the mums so they don’t even have to worry about herding them once they have the mums harpooned or on the shore. Being social animals as well…they have to watch their family members being slaughtered one after the other. Well I am only human and I found myself tearing up.
BUT the single most fascinating (and heart warming and hopeful and wonderful) is that they have made it so painful, so horrible, so awkward for the japanese whalers that often that the japanese are just packing up and going home early. They really think adding just once more boat to their fleet will make it almost impossible for those whalers to continue their “scientific” research. How amazing is that? In MY lifetime we might see an end to whaling commercially (and that is what they are actually doing with the whales as a loop hole requires the whales, that are caught “scientifically”, be completely used and not wasted…meaning they can sell it for food. Last season they had set out to kill 1000 whales and got less than 250 of them.
Another interesting (and yet saddening fact) about the UN charter that protects these animals is that they basically said “these are the rules…but we aren’t going to enforce them. Someone else will have to do that” *insert vague gesturing at the entire world*. That is when Captain Watson stepped up to the plate and said “I’ll do it”. Maybe it does take just one person to change the world?
I could ramble on and on about them as *I* learnt just as much as the girls. I also really appriciate that all their crew are volunteers. They don’t get paid a salary of any kind and when we booked our excursion they just asked that each family (assuming they could afford to) make a small donation from their WISH LIST. We bough a bunch of fruit & vege as a donation, but they were asking for everything from dolphin torch batteries to DVD’s to tofu (the crew are all vegan…they walk their talk). Because of these things they keep their administration costs right down and apparently 95% of cash donations go toward the campaigns (meaning fuelling the boats to head out to save some whales or sharks or bluefin tuna). The huge portion that some “charities” spend on administration costs and CEO salaries has put me off supporting lots of them but this is someone we are going to go ahead and try to support even if it just means dropping a few bags of potatoes off to the ship while it is in dock.
Now I don’t normally advocate much but I would really REALLY encourage you to visit the “Steve Irwin” if you are in Melbourne or are visiting Melbourne soon. They are currently docked in Williamstown and will be there for awhile. While they operate tours on weekends they said there is always someone there who is willing to talk to you. Just go to the dock and ring the door bell on their gang plank (yup they have a door bell on there). It is totally free to visit, but help them out and bring a bag of carrots or some metcards (or something else from their wishlist). Even if you are a sceptic or think there are more important things going on in the world go have a talk to them. Take your kids. Take your mum. Take your friends. They have some super cool gadgets (and they happily pointed out the helicopter donated by Bob Barker and the helicopter shed bought by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) and show you all around the ship.
Lastly they are going to be showing some of series four of their show “Whale Wars” at the Titanic Restaurant in Williamstown every Wednesday starting on the 27th of June at 8pm. They are asking for a suggested donation of $5-$10 (but have said that if money is an issue you don’t have to worry) We are going to try to make it ourselves so we might just see you there.