“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge, that myth is more potent than history. I believe that dreams are more powerful than facts that hope always triumphs over experience.” -Eric, The Crow
Blessed are those who document our work, for they inspire us to take action...
The movement for change is rich in visions.
All of us seem to have our ideas of the ‘perfect world’, some including detailed economic and political systems, while some simply a glorious dream of peace and love and harmony (or in Greenpeace lingo a ‘greener’ and ‘peaceful’ future).
Both, of course are important.
We need practical ideas of organization, and we need splendid ideas of harmony to inspire us.
Sometimes, though, the visions of our goal seems so far removed from our lives as to be impossible, and disagreements on practical plans split us apart.
Someday, "after the revolution," visions will be attainable. But now they are far away on the other side of that future event, change.
I think we need some sense of connection that exists between the struggles and fragility of our own day-to-day unromantic lives and the ultimate goal, the vision.
It’s a platitude in the environmental movement to say that ends and means are determined by each other. Perhaps we don't really understand what that means. Because, we tend to see our visions as being out there in the future, we don't connect our present lives with the dream that inspires them.
I think there needs to be a connection.
Sometimes, it takes the mundane, painful and downright unpleasant struggles we've been through to realize that this present moment in time, this is where the vision lives; these are steps on the way to our dream.
For my part the connection is felt in the relationship and camaraderie that is found in the people here in Greenpeace, of whom I’ve been blessed to share a whole range of experiences all for the sake of taking our vision of a greener and peaceful future closer to its attainment.
However, much can be said also of the role of ‘hope’ and ‘inspiration’ when it comes to stirring the complacent into action. I myself was not an instant convert to our struggle, as I come from a different background. But as a starting point I am and will always be thankful to the people who sought to document and interpret Greenpeace actions in video for it is in such presentations of the organization’s nature and work that I found myself as a part of something that’s bigger than me.
Having been a communication student in college I was astonished at the discovery of Greenpeace’s direct actions and use of the media is actually the practical operationalization the communication theorists’ Marshall McLuhan’s famous 1967 book The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects, a book that has been highly influential for me as a journalism student then.
For me this discovery was dawning of a new-found understanding of activism, one that is grounded on the value and use of symbols as a means of deconstructing how one is lead into a deconstruction and reorientation of reality.
The use of symbols is evident early on with Greenpeace, and has found expression primarily in the campaigning framework that was put into motion by one of our founders –the late Bob Hunter a former journalist and student of McLuhan.
Hunter, was bent on changing the world with what he termed "media mindbombs" -- consciousness-changing sounds and images to blast around the world in the guise of news. With Hunter, symbols (like the common David and Goliath image of a Greenpeace inflatable between a giant whaling vessel and a whale) put environmental problems into tangible terms that can be accessible to people watching the television or looking at a picture in the newspaper, with the pictures/symbols demanding a reaction from the audience, thus making the symbolic point towards a call for resolution, for a sustained and conscious effort on the part of the audience to do something concrete.
May our hopes triumph over our experience.