The Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, has sets her sails to cross the sea from Korea to Taiwan, and will soon be arriving in Keelung Harbour. I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the theme of her visit -“A Better Future Together”.
I’ve worked for Greenpeace for nearly 20 years, and originally come from New Zealand, a place, like Taiwan, that is surrounded by sea and shaped by the forces of nature. And like Taiwan, it’s a place where the people are proud of where they live, and enjoy getting out of the cities when they can to make the most of the mountains and coastlines. And like Taiwan, people in New Zealand very much enjoy the fruits of the land and bounty of the sea.
Of course there are differences as well – language, culture, climate, no stinky tofu in NZ… But for me it is the similarities and the common values - the human condition that recognises that a healthy interaction with the world around us is vital to a healthy and fulfilling life - that is at the heart of what “A Better Future, Together” is all about.
The ‘Better Future’ part is pretty obvious. I am sure there are not too many people that want to live in a world where the rivers and lands of their homes are poisoned by toxic chemicals, or where switching on a light chokes our skies or causes waste that lasts for a million years. There wouldn’t be too many people that want their children to inherit a world where they won’t enjoy the fish that we have in their diets, where sea level rise threatens their very way of life or where the great forests and the life they support are a distant memory.
Although ‘A Better Future’ will mean different things to different people, dig a little deeper and I suspect we’ll find some things in common – a fairer and more balanced society that reflects the values they see inside themselves and the hopes they hold for themselves or those they have for their children.
If a better future is what we want, then ‘Together’ is how we need to get there.
We’re at a point in history where we need to make some pretty important choices. Unchecked industrialisation and a growing population have put pressure on our planet home and it is crying out for solutions - we’ve all heard stories and seen images of the terrible impacts that just can’t go on.
On the positive side, most of those solutions are at hand – and, really, all we have to do as a society is to choose to embrace them.
And all of us have a role to play in making that choice – whether it be in our work in civil society, academia, industry, or government. Or whether it is in our home lives as consumers making choices about what we buy, community members sharing and discussing the issues, or as voters that choose our leaders and decision makers.
Of course there will always be an excuse not to make the necessary choices – “its too hard” or “change costs too much money”. But, as a wise man once said to me, it doesn’t cost you anything to change your mind. Changing the way we think is an important first step.
It also doesn’t cost you anything to hope. Personally I think the choices that we need to make start with hope. And certainly for me ‘Together’ is where hope comes from. I’ve been fortunate enough over the years to meet individuals and communities from all around the world, each doing ordinary things in their ordinary lives to make the world around them reflect the values they hold.
Together, they are extraordinary. And together they inspire hope for the future because they have shown a difference can be made.
There are many such people right here in Taiwan, and they too are already making a difference. Over the last few weeks the Greenpeace team has interviewed some of these people and provided a snap shot of their stories and work. Check them out here, share their stories and inspiration and create hope in what is possible.
The ship and her crew also bring the spirit of her two predecessors and all those that have sailed and campaigned and hoped along with them. Together they have played instrumental roles in some of the most important victories for the planet.
I’ve sailed on the second Rainbow Warrior and seen first hand how it has become a symbol of hope for so many. It was on a trip through the Pacific, tracking illegal fishing boats and meeting local fishermen, that I first heard a famous Pacific Island saying “the ocean is not what divides us, it is what connects us”.
Recently as I stood on the cliffs at A-Lang-Yi, looking south over the blue Pacific toward New Zealand, I recalled this saying and understood it’s meaning more than ever. Thinking about the shared values I have noticed between my old home and new, I feel it is also true there is a sea of hope that connects us all.
The Rainbow Warrior is open to the public in Keelung and Tainan over the next two weekends to provide an opportunity to see the ship and hear about Greenpeace’s campaigns. I hope that many of you can come along, meet some of the crew and volunteers, and share your hopes for a better future, and join us on an important journey - because when we stand together, it is possible to choose a future we want!
Image © Alex Hofford / Greenpeace