Friday, 30 July 2010

The ordinary man fights back...

I don't know if you have seen "Sharkwater," "The Cove'" or "The End of the Line," if not you should check them out. The major link between all three is that they are based on the destruction of our oceans and the animals playing vital roles to it's health.

All three films centre around the views and action of individuals who are intent on making a difference. Of those individuals, The Cove's Rick O'Barry is the one I feel the strongest bond with. O'Barry is the man who trained the dolphins used in Flipper and who, upon seeing the misery felt by these intelligent creatures whilst in captivity, decided to spend his life fighting against the global trade in capturing dolphins for aquaria.

I have spent many happy days in Aquaria all around the world, I am from Manchester and now live in Leeds, neither allow me the opportunities to regularly get into the open ocean and see these animals in their natural environment so it was my only way to see them up close and aquaria can be excellent places for people to learn about our oceans and to hopefully care about their protection.

However, using animals to entertain us through training them to perform tricks is a wholly different matter all together. Rick O'Barry realises this and spends his life striving to put a stop to the trade of dolphins for captivity and the sickening butchery they suffer every year in Japan for their meat. The dolphins not bought for captivity are herded into a small cove and butchered for their meat, babies and all, by hollering fishermen, with the full support of the Japanese government.

Rick O'Barry doesn't stand by and tut tut or write petitions, he gets stuck in and actually does something about it!

The biggest enemy we have is arrogance, the arrogance we as a species have towards the planet's animals, the arrogance of the wealthy who feel they can dictate to us what is morally right and wrong and the arrogance of governments who dictate to the proles only what they deem we should be aware of.

I have seen the difference myself, when ordinary people fight back against this arrogance. My other great love is Manchester United Football Club. We are all aware of what is happening under the ownership of the Glazer family and last season, after the publishing of the Club's bond prospectus in which it arrogantly declared that despite all other clubs reducing or freezing season ticket prices due to the recession, they would continue to increase them, forcing out ordinary, working class supporters in favour of corporate visitors who did not have an ounce of the passion of the ordinary local supporters, some of whom had been going to Old Trafford for decades. Manchester United has one of the highest numbers of working class supporters in the Premier League, given the economic situation in the surrounding areas, poor areas when ordinary people struggle to make ends meet but commit large sums of money to support the team week in week out.

So what is my point? My point is that the club arrogantly felt that these working class people didn't have the intelligence or inclination to fight back but fight back they did, making news around the globe due to the inspired "green and gold" campaign and showing that the undesirable element of the club's support (those who didn't gobble up every bit of tat in the club's megastore and purchase overpriced flat beer in the concourse at half time) did indeed have the intelligence and motivation to protest in a forceful yet peaceful, law abiding manner, causing great embarrassment for the Glazers and the Club's Chief Exec, David Gill.

This season, for the first time in decades, Season Ticket sales are down and the club has resorted to the embarrassing practice of begging people to buy the thousands left over. Thousands of ordinary people have made the biggest sacrifice they could and said "we are not taking this anymore" sacrificing their enjoyment of cheering on the team and breaking what has been a habit for their entire lives to show they want change.

What has this got to do with the preservation of our oceans? Manchester United is the world's biggest football club, everyone has heard of them so the goings on at Old Trafford are guaranteed to be worldwide news. The state of our oceans and what we and or governments are inflicting upon them is not, unfortunately, as well known.

The first step in forcing change is education, we must educate others about what we know is happening and the cataclysmic damage it is doing to our oceans and ultimately ourselves. With the facts we can then allow people to decide if they feel it is a cause worth fighting for. Trying to force people to care often has the opposite effect so instead we must inspire others to act in ways they feel comfortable. This may be writing petitions, learning which species are on the endangered list and refusing to support their trade through boycotting them and the restaurants who sell them, Marlin, Bluefin Tuna, Shark etc...

The next and possibly most important factor in affecting change is courage. The courage to put your head above the parapit and act, speak out and say that we will not accept this anymore. Nothing terrifies governments or the corporate juggernaut more than the little people doing something and fighting back. They are so comfortable in their arrogant belief that you don't believe you can change the world that they get away with doing what they want, when they want.

I have news for you, you CAN change the world. With courage, belief and knowledge you can make a difference so that our children and their children can continue to enjoy the oceans in a responsible manner. Rick O'Barry is one of those people and I intend to be another and would love nothing more than for you to join with me and do something about what is happening every day. What has made the fight against the Glazer family so successful is that people who don't care, are destroying something that is the most important thing in the world to millions of ordinary people. What is more important than the continued survival of the human race?! If we continue to let these people destroy our oceans, the environmental effect it will have on humans is nothing short of disastrous.

Now is the time to ask yourself, do you care about the future of the planet for your children and their children? Do you care that we as a race, continue to allow corporations to get away with acts that are so morally reprehensible they defy belief?

If the answer is yes, ask yourself "what can I do?" You'd be surprised that even a small act on your behalf could change the world one day.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

To be somebody...

There I was, sitting in the office pondering various sales targets whilst trying to speak to people I desperatley needed to contact who had seemingly disappeared off the face off the planet at the worst time possible. At that moment the phone rang, it was yet another client expecting me to work twice as hard but for a massive discount on the standard fee we would charge...

"It's the recession" they said, it's what they all said, here I am with my own rent and bills to pay, barely scraping by, merely existing from month to month and they wanted to talk to me about the recession! At that moment, barely two months ago, I made up my mind that I wasn't going to put up with mediocrity anymore, I was sick of having no control over my life, I loved the people I worked with, my boss was great but it just wasn't me, I wasn't achieving anything and most importantly I wasn't making a difference in the world.

When I was six I told my parents I wanted to spend my life diving with sharks and making films, just like my heroes, Ron and Valerie Taylor, but here I was at thirty-one, sitting in a stuffy office, spending all day wishing I was somewhere else, I would wake up on Monday morning with that sense of dread, so on that Monday morning I made a decision...I quit.

Don't get the wrong idea, I'm skint, my parents are skint, everyone I know is skint so I didn't have a safety net, the only safety net I have is my belief in myself and what I can achieve when I put my mind to it. I had already built a band from nothing, with no support (particularly financial) to one which appeared in Joel McIver's A-Z of the most important Rock bands in the world, shifting hundreds of thousands of EP's, albums and downloads and becoming one of the most critically acclaimed and popular underground Metal bands in the country. I figured the absolute desperation of my situation would drive me to achieve what everyone had told me to give up dreaming about so six weeks ago I set about realising the first of my many shark based ambitions...

Last year I wrote an article that appeared in the August 2009 edition of DIVER magazine which had managed to make it's way around the world. A couple of months ago I discovered my article had been posted on various websites and blogs with some highly complimentary feedback from some serious individuals within the shark world. I tracked one of these individuals down and formulated the idea for a film I wanted to make. In the space of a week I had gained full access to the story I wanted, I just needed the money to make it!

Just to remind you, I am skint, I certainly can't afford to pay for it, and so here begins my quest to make this film happen, the endless telephone conversations, emails and door knocking, all in a race against time before I lose my flat, end up homeless and have to go back to work, undoubtedly doing something I hate!

See, that's the thing about me, most people would imagine coming face to face with a large predatory shark to be their idea of hell, to me that is heaven, sitting in an office, clockwatching, making endless phone calls and wearing a suit is hell. It is that motivation that pushes me to achieve what I know I am capable of.

In the grand scheme of things, I am a nobody, but this nobody has so far managed to secure the services of an award winning underwater cameraman and interest from two major production companies, interested in discussing the posibility of making this film happen and a number of organisations who are discussing with me, the possibility of becoming involved. That's the point of this blog, I want to show all of you, also made to feel like nobodies by the restraints on your life through work, family and what you perceive to be your own boundaries that sometimes risks pay off and that ordinary people like you and I can achieve extraordinary things.

Great achievements happen through two two major factors, inspiration and perspiration. I would say that perspiration makes up 90% of this equation, the inspiration is covered, I have a great idea, a few great ideas actually but the perspiration is the hard bit! You may be asking where luck falls into this, I am firmly of the belief the harder you work the luckier you get, I also don't want to be relying on luck given my current situation!

I would imagine every person who reads this blog has a dream and that 99% of you haven't achieved that dream yet, hopefully I can show you that it is possible. I am an ordinary bloke from Manchester with an extraordinary passion for sharks, your passions may differ from mine but if I can help you go for it and realise at least some of your ambitions, I would consider that a pretty good result!

So here it is, Wednesday July 28th, I have no money, most likely won't have anywhere to live soon but I have a great idea, okay I have had interest in my idea, but at this stage all I have in the world is a great idea, passion, enthusiasm, knowledge and self belief...Should be one hell of a journey!