Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Hero is a Pirate

When I went to Starbucks today, the cashier looked at me like he couldn’t understand what I was ordering. I said it four times. Turns out, he was just entranced by my baseball hat…. which had the Sea Shepherd Jolly Roger (pirate) logo on it. “Sea Shepherd!!!” He exclaimed and thrust out his hand to vigorously shake mine. “Thank you. Thank you so much for what you do. You guys are amazing.”

And they are. And, I am lucky enough to work with and be good friends with both Kim McCoy, a fellow Shark Angel and Executive Director of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and also, Captain Paul Watson – the iconic leader of the organization.

Paul is one of the strongest and most heroic people I know. His passion for all living creatures on this planet is endless, as is his intellect, his strength and his undying commitment to his cause. To protect the oceans and all that live within it. To enforce the laws that no one enforces. Dolphins, Whales, Sharks – they are all almost extinct. And Sea Shepherd combats those that threaten the lives of the few that remain. They are all about action. They ARE good, instead of working at looking good. It isn’t about egos or positioning, it is about making a difference on this planet. About fighting the good fight – that everyone else just turns a blind eye too. These are MY kind of people.

In fact, I hope to join them in the Galapagos in August to fight the sharkfinning issues and the Antarctic Whale Campaign (if one is necessary this year) in December.

Paul was just in town for a week again – he left Monday. I was able to spend quite a good deal of time with him this trip (as well as with his girlfriend Claudette) plotting about how to save the planet, listening to his stories and deep insights, hanging out in NYC, and just enjoying his company. It always amazes me that my hero – the man who is on the frontline of the battles to save the creatures I hold so dear – is also a real person. One I can giggle like a school girl with about some piece of gossip or plot on how to end the madness of drumlines in South Africa.

I love that when I am out with him, he is often recognized. People whisper around him “Is it? No… couldn’t be.” Then, they predictably meet my eyes as if to ask if it truly is – and plea for an invitation. They always get it, because Paul is incredibly humble. And I love it, not because I am star struck or get off on a silly notion that I am hanging out with someone meaninglessly famous, but that Paul, who has sacrificed everything and dedicated his whole life to doing something that is truly making a difference for all of us, is adored and revered like a celebrity. The only difference is, he truly is – and is doing something that is worth worshiping – instead of a silly basketball player, b-list actor, rich socialite or rap star. He deserves every moment of positive attention showered on him.

And even more, I love that even though he has been doing this for decades and has a team of thousands of volunteers behind him, he still walks around with a pocket full of stickers, pasting his latest campaign wherever he goes. He isn’t above anything – and he is endlessly and tirelessly the protector of the sea – speaking out for the whales, the dolphins, the seals and the sharks, who don’t have voices of their own.

Some say Paul is a pirate. I say thank god he is - we need someone who isn't afraid to do what we all should be - if only we weren't so busy eating our tuna sushi, driving our hummers, and um, breathing oxygen. Oh wait? You mean, if we kill off all those creatures and don't start conserving our planet we won't have any of that?!?

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