Today, we are confronted with the biggest threats to our very existence and it is fair to say that it requires us to come up with a proportionate response to the scale of the problem. I think this is the very reason why our International Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo reflected that: “we are winning battles but losing the planet,” which sums up the urgency to build power that rests in the broad majority who share our aspiration for a better world who are yet to come to a conviction of enlisting themselves to our broad movement of change and I think our immediate task is to tell inspiring stories to challenge those who’ll hear them to take it upon themselves to act upon the lessons of our stories.
This brings into mind a story that we’re all familiar with:
"There will come a time when the Earth grows sick and when it does a tribe will gather from all the cultures of the World who believe in deeds and not words. They will work to heal it...they will be known as the "Warriors of the Rainbow."
Since the early 1970s, this legend of Rainbow Warriors inspired some environmentalists with the belief that their movement is the fulfillment of this Native American prophecy.
40 plus years later I think it is worth remembering this story because we need to keep reminding ourselves of our history and the reasons why we need to persevere with our work and to innovate on the ways on how we can win power and bring into play that power as leverage for our campaigns.
Throughout the years Greenpeace, has gone through a lot and yet that is not to say that it has softened its approach to ecological problems.
This now speaks of the need for us to not just be content with stating the problem and with telling stories, this is what sets us apart from other environmental groups that work on ‘awareness’ campaigns, because we believe that to tell stories is to present a moral lesson like those tales that were told to us when we were young. For Greenpeace, telling stories provides us with morale and moral lessons that challenge our audience to make informed choices in the way we live.
We are here to follow the path of living up to the vision of becoming the planet’s Rainbow Warriors, from every tribe, culture and creed to stand up against environmental destruction. This is the challenge that besets us now as we continue in the struggle as activists to stir people to put their sentiments into concrete actions that would usher in a more sustainable future for our planet.
It means signing up online, volunteering and participating in all forms of direct actions and creative confrontation with Greenpeace and the communities we work with. It means seizing every opportunity to speak out, to sound the alarm, offer alternatives and empower likeminded individuals in Facebook, Twitter on the streets, schools and the workplace. To dare say that a better world is possible if only we would be roused to speak out in action to state the obvious that there are those who benefit from ignorance of, and naiveté to, the environmental destruction that is happening in our planet. And to speak of something wrong about the world is to state fact, as every single person knows from experience that the world as we know it does not provide equally in terms of resources, rights and privileges.
This is the starting point of all forms of activism because, in a perfect world, activism would be rendered irrelevant. Having said that, it is also a salient reminder that being part of Greenpeace means that we are part of something bigger than what we are working on. It means that we are activists first and foremost which means we have enlisted ourselves into the broad movement that seeks to enact positive change to a system that does not function for, and because decisions and interests in areas of power are not that of, the people. It is about recognizing our place as parts and participants of ecosystems; that we are in a movement centered on ecology, health and human rights. We exist because we are under the threat of global environmental problems like climate change, toxic pollution, genetic contamination, nuclear disasters, habitat destruction, deforestation etc., which is the very reason why we ‘bear-witness’ -- to expose something that is wrong, or to highlight something that is right or something that needs to be protected.
This is our story and this is the collective challenge that we face –the challenge to make our actions speak louder than our words.