Friday, 9 November 2012

Passion is Everything

Today's blog was inspired by this most powerful of videos from Captain Paul Watson

He isn't kidding. As I watched the video I found myself reflecting on what had got me into the organisation. It wasn't slick presentations, it wasn't clever marketing materials (and I cannot begin to tell you how angry I get when I see charities spending donated funds on fancy advertising to get more funds to do more advertising to get more funds to...)  No, it was the passion and unshakeable belief of the very first Sea Shepherd volunteers we met early in 2011.

The background to this meeting was not particularly unusual, at least not for Sea Shepherd.

At the time I was the head of a long established Glasgow Trade Incorporation which every year distributes a number of cheques to deserving charities on the recommendation of our own membership.  Sea Shepherd was one of that year's recommended charities.

Of some note is the observation that the following year it became the first charity to be awarded a cheque for a second year in succession and has just surprised even me by becoming the first charity ever to receive a 3rd award.

Let me tell you that this Incorporation received its first Royal Charter from Scotland's King James V (father of Mary Queen of Scots) in 1527, that it is very definitely part of "the establishment" and that it does not give any money to any charity which does not follow charity rules - both within the letter of the law and, more importantly, the spirit of the law. It does give money to charities which accomplish miracles with next to nothing for resources and if you know any organisation which fits that bill more readily than Sea Shepherd we would all like to know about it. I will, of course, tell you lots more about this institution in a future blog so please add your email or join with friends connect on the right of this page to make sure you get notification when I do.

But back to my first encounter with the organisation which was soon to take over every spare minute of my time (and rather a lot that were never spare in the first place) What was it that got me, the then head of that charitable institution, so heavily involved with Sea Shepherd so quickly?

In a word, PASSION.

Having sent the cheque in the summer of 2010 we received a letter from Sea Shepherd UK that was clearly very different from the usual corporate thank you note we were so used to seeing from other organisations.  This was a letter from the heart telling us not only how much the funds meant but all the things they would enable the charity to do. I was impressed. So impressed that I phoned their UK telephone number and told Darren, the UK General manager for Sea Shepherd, just how impressed I was. His enthusiasm for (what was then not yet) my cause (but soon would be) rang out. When he unexpectedly invited myself and my wife to visit them in London early in the New Year after all his work for that year's campaigns was out of the way I accepted without a second thought.

Please take a look at the photo above. We were not being invited to visit some glass palace built on donated funds (and have you ever had a charity tell you up front that they would use YOUR funds to build a glass palace? Thought not.) We were not being invited to the sort of sumptuous board room which I found rather too normal on my many trips to the capital. We were being invited to meet the very heart of the organisation, its people, and they weren't too worried about comfortable surroundings, they just wanted to defend the oceans.

MV Steve Irwin, another visitor to London that year

Those young, and not so young, Sea Shepherds impressed us so much we agreed on the spot to become more involved. Knowledge is not power, knowledge is responsibility. Those amazing, passionate people gave us knowledge we could not ignore and they gave us an example of commitment to responsibility that we could not honourably ignore either.

Of particular note is the fact that three people in that photograph are now on board the MV Steve Irwin on their way to defend the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary from the pirate whaling ships of Japan's ICR (apparently the R stands for "research").

Today I am passionate about defending ocean wildlife worldwide. What are you passionate about?

Thank you for reading.