Deckhand, Bob Barker
Dr. Martin Luther King once said, "The world is in need of creative extremists."
When I read that earlier this year, it was the first time I have ever observed the word 'extremists' being used in a positive tone. So when did the word come to hold such negative connotations? It appears that once the mass majority of people stopped caring enough about issues to take direct action themselves, that laziness and apathy became the norm, and thus suddenly enthusiasm, concern, and action became considered extreme behavior.
As long as the greater majority of the human populace are sitting idly by as atrocities such as the mass slaughter of whales are carried out, then those who choose to do something about it will indeed be considered different, and what a sad thought that is. Rather than sitting on our couches watching it on the news and feeling depressed, we have made the decision to instead pack up our bags and our lives and head to the furthest reaches of the world to take direct measures in opposing that which has no place in a modern, compassionate world.
We do this for one pure and simple reason: it simply needs to be done! The planet is in a state of extreme jeopardy, the oceans are at extreme threat of collapse, and the diplomats of the world have been extremely negligent of the need to protect the great whales of the Southern Ocean. Thus, the responsibility has this fallen onto us, the individuals who recognize these are extreme times.
I do take great comfort in my heartfelt belief that one day, hopefully not too far away, we will not be alone in this battle and that the fight to protect the whales, and consequently our oceans and our planet, will be the battle fought by all. A time will come when people will not be so amazed at the idea of a group of people taking time out of their own lives to weather harsh conditions and put their own lives at risk (unpaid and undaunted) in exchange for the protection of the lives of others. My solace is taken in my faith that this sacrifice and these priorities will become the norm. There will be nothing extreme about caring more for the greater good than for personal benefit, that personal action on behalf of the issues we care about will be a commonplace action. There will be nothing special or unique about a Sea Shepherd volunteer because our efforts will be a mere reflection of the actions taken by all others, all over the world.
The most inspiring thing about being involved with Sea Shepherd is that I quickly came to realize that my thoughts were not as unconventional as I once felt. There are more people out there who care about our planet and our co-inhabitants than I ever imagined, and meeting so many people with a likemind has been of great inspiration to me. On Sea Shepherd vessels there is nothing 'extreme' about being concerned for the health of our planet, nothing extreme about standing up for those who are defenseless, in contrast it is the considered the most normal thing in the world. Just as it should be!
We may number less than 100 on these three Sea Shepherd vessels, but we have plenty more brothers and sisters lining the shore who fight this battle with us, with equal measures of passion and determination.
The threat to our planet is a plight that affects all of us, thus the responsibility is equally shared between us all. These are extreme times, and they call for creative and compassionate individuals.