Updated: Jun 9, 2019
On March 3rd ten towns across south and east Australia gathered their forces and paddled out in a peaceful support of the Great Australian Bight Alliance resisting the oil drilling plans for the Australian Bight. We were one of them.
This is a story about caring the responsibility of being a human.
When I came to visit Australia earlier this year for two weeks, I stayed for several months. An alien to the country and culture, I have never been so moved and inspired by the nation's love and care for its nature. Naturally, learning about part of it being greatly endangered by the hand of not only a foreign power but the governmental choices of Australia itself, I wanted to support the movement and organised one of the Paddle Outs on that day.
This year, as for the past three years, the people of Australia are standing up to protect a harbour along its souther coastline The Great Australian Bight with many unique marine species in it. To this day thousands of people have gathered together on multiple occasions across Australia and Norway as a part of organised peaceful protests against a Norwegian energy company Equinor (formerly known as Statoil) drilling for oil in the Bight. A non-profit organisation named The Great Australian Bight Alliance have helped to successfully resist BP and Chevron plans in the past already.
I didn't know anyone in the area, I didn't really know many people in the country but I knew enough. It didn't even cross my mind not to do it, simply because I didn't see it as an option. With only two days to speak to as many people and organisations as I could, I ended up having the most amazing support of local people and now my dear friends. And WE came together for the purpose. How and why?
Besides the obvious answer to those, I say we did it for the same reason Equinor push with their plans, for the same reason the Australian government is considering allowing it... because they are a group of people who believe in something. Just as much as we ourselves were.
In his book Sapience Yuval Noah Harani carries his reader through the years of human evolution dating from the long-gone hundreds of thousands of years ago to the present day. How did the first settlements appear? First countries? How did the first two homo representatives come to an agreement? By believing in something one.
"Large numbers of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myths. Any large-scale human cooperation – whether a modern state, a medieval church, an ancient city or an archaic tribe – is rooted in common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination."
How did religion appear? By a number of people believing in gods and their teachings, or maybe by believing one person telling them he knew. How did rulers and governments appear? By someone believing they knew what was best for creating order to mass settlements and villages. Do you think Hitler's actions were because he wanted violence? No. He did it because he believed in his vision of the world. I am not trying to compare anyone to Hitler, rather just giving ab obvious example to support a point.
And that is one large trait that separates us from other species, which has one more significant truth about it which Harani keeps returning to. Humans have built a world based on beliefs and convictions which not only brought torture in the form of unhappiness upon themselves but the whole planet and everything else on it.
Unfortunately we have begun to realise that on a level that matters a little far too late and are now drowning in the consequences. Many remain sceptical, I know it, I was raised in a country with a lot of that type. Other fight, more than not. We still depend on oil today and will continue to for the foreseeable future (I still fly airplanes, drive a car that runs on oil on the roads that partially consist of resins, etc.) Equinor need to develop its technology and push limits for what is possible, to keep its employees employed and its business (another imagined entity) intact. The Australian government needs to care for its citizens and sustain the economical and political power on the international arena.
Regardless, it isn't too late to prevent adding the Great Australian Bight and many other natural reserves to the drowning (literary and figuratively) list. And that is what we - the protestors and humans - care for.
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