Those who care, win
Hanli Prinsloo is a South African freediver and ocean advocate. She is the founder of I AM WATER, a Durban-based charity that seeks to reconnect South Africa's underserved urban youth with the ocean.
Today I am working on a global campaign to end dolphin captivity. A friend just emailed that their office in Gaza got bombed last night. Another, in India, reached out about support for their women’s organisation that is heavily affected by the devastating surge in Covid fatalities. I get ongoing alerts regarding the gender based violence cases around South Africa and, every day when I wake up, I’m afraid there will be news of more police brutality or mass shooting headlines in the US. These are just a few of the causes I’m passionate about, that are current right now. And, reading what I just wrote, I wonder whether my energy is best spent today fighting dolphin captivity when the whole world seems so terribly fragile right now.
So here’s what I think. Land, sea, animal, human… it’s crunch time for much of our planet at the moment. It feels like we just stagger from one disaster to another, hoping for a break, wondering which cause is most important and needs our most urgent attention.
For me, for today – it’s the dolphin campaign. Not because I rank it higher than any of the other pressing causes but because it’s where I can have impact… today.
Here’s the thing. I don’t think our hearts and our caring is a finite pool that we have to ration. We can (and must!) care deeply about it all, but pick where we can have impact and then act. Compassion without action can so easily become a depressing place where we observe suffering and start feeling hopelessness. But when you rise, act, speak up, help and engage… you feel your caring reach new depths and you find others who are on the same journey.
Today, I connected with like-minded ocean lovers in Columbia, Miami, Sweden, London and a whole slew of other places, people like me with a love for the sea and a heart to see change. Rallying voices for dolphins, we urged travel companies to stop selling captivity. We educated the public on the intelligence of dolphins. Did you know they are conscious breathers? Did you know they can travel hundreds of kilometres a day? Did you know they have names and surnames (pod names!). Care, rally, educate, share, explain, listen… again and again. Millions of voices speaking as one. Suddenly the challenge doesn’t seem so daunting; we’re part of the same pod!
Nobody has the strength to exist in the headlines of suffering all day every day, but everyone has the chance to open their hearts, feel, learn and act. Next week I will be raising my voice for oceans for all, speaking up for a blue space that is inclusive. The dolphins will still be there, in my heart, in my mind and whenever I can I will make their case.
I need time in the ocean to recharge and reassess and come back refreshed. Letting salt water meet salt water when it just feels too heavy, too hard. Just a few hours suspended in the blue, listening to the crunch of the reef, feeling the sway of the swell and the touch of the sea. Deep ocean breaths, slow sweet dives meeting old friends in the flickering light of our aquatic home. Then leave it all behind to come out stronger. Strap on the gloves and enter the ring for round two, and three… and four.
Your heart is big enough. Those who care, win.
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