Hurricane Harvey, as with other disasters, has demonstrated once again that communities gather and help each other when the need arises. Further, we saw those leaders who failed to help where they could, were swayed by the common belief that they needed to act to help the vulnerable and house the displaced. Sadly, we all need to remember to speak for the vulnerable and the abused even when not faced with cataclysmic weather or other disasters, natural and man-made.
When you run an international organization with projects that touch every continent and engage people in communities all over the globe, you hope that it is understood by all that your organization prizes free speech, inclusion and civil discourse, abhors bigotry and violence, and promotes equity in all of its work and operations. And most of the time, knowing what values we hold and model is enough. But not always.
We at The Ocean Foundation recognize that there are times when we need to be even more clear in our defense of civil society and the rule of law. In the past, with our colleagues, we have spoken out in rage and sorrow at the failure of governments to protect community leaders who are murdered in defense of their neighbors and the resources on which they depend, or failed to protect. Likewise, we have called for the prosecution of those who seek to defend illegal practices through threats and violence.
We have promoted those organizations that monitor and defend those who work on the ground (and the water) every day. We turn down organizations who seek to promote hate and foster division. And we strive to fully appreciate the diverse circumstances that allow us to do the work we do and to support the defense of our ocean.
We must all work together not just to condemn racism, misogyny and bigotry, but also to fight it. The events of this past summer, from those in Charlottesville to those in Finland, are not limited to the individual perpetrators, but derive from all those who foster hate, fear, and violence. Whatever inequity and injustice they perceive as perpetrated upon them cannot be addressed by these actions, neither can we condone them as being in pursuit of justice for all.
We must do what we can to stop those who act on such feelings of hate, and those who use incessant lying, jingoism, white nationalism, fear and suspicion to control our nation by dividing us.
We must spread and defend the truth, and science, and compassion. We must speak out on behalf of those who are attacked and terrorized by hate groups. We must forgive those who have been lied to, misled and deluded.
Let no one ever feel they are standing alone.