You just never know where or when inspiration will strike. Or what might be the source of inspiration. How about a whale. Or three?
Three dying whales named Fred, Wilma and Bam-Bam. I watched the movie, Big Miracle recently; a movie inspired by a true story about whales. Three of them. Imagine that.
Set up in northern Alaska at the end of the Cold War, where it’s cold as cold, in more ways than one, three California Grey Whales were trapped under the ice of the Arctic Circle. On their own, they could not pass through an ice barrier and follow their usual migration route, from Barrow, Alaska to the warmer waters of southern California. Without human intervention, these whales would meet a terrible fate.
In the efforts to save the whales, the competing interests of the media vs. the locals; the oil drilling industry vs. Greenpeace, and the US vs. Russians all came into play. All major players with high stakes in the game; much like the current presidential campaign. Everyone had their own interests to protect: ratings, wealth, reputation and mission. Initially unable to see past their own noses, each fought from and for their own perspective, the whales mere pawns in a political game of chess. Moves were made, motivated by who could come out to be seen as the hero, solely to advance their own interests.
At the heart of the film, however, were the family of whales and their plight. No one wanted the blood of these majestic beings to take place on their watch. What eventually became evident was that no one single group had the solution. It was only through the succession of one failed idea after another, that the next was imagined and implemented. And when that failed, more and more heads started working together, finally starting to see the whales instead of only their bottom line, election returns, newsroom ratings or donation count.
It slowly became obvious that only when forgetting themselves, and working together, could they begin to have a chance of saving Fred, Wilma and Bam-Bam. And it occurred to me, during the film, what if Fred, Wilma and Bam-Bam were education, restoring our national and state economies, unemployment, peace in warring nations, the homeless, foster kids, etc?
One of the key moments in the film pits the Greenpeace volunteer – word to word, finger pointing to finger pointing – against the oil drilling mogul. Each having taken a swing on the pendulum and landing somewhere center of left and right, they began to see each other’s point, and became invested in the real mission. With the fate of the whales in their hands, and an ounce of understanding of both what the other wants, and has given up for the cause, they look at each other and say,
‘It’s not as hard to not hate you as I thought it would be‘
These ideas were still swimming around in my mind while moving about life’s little routines, and listening to the Avett Brothers cd on the way to work one morning, it felt like the two sides of velcro had come together.
You and I We’re the same || Live and die || We’re the same || Hear my voice Know my name || You and I We’re the same
For the whales, it was a matter of whether they would live or die. It took everyone to realize that at the end of the day, that to save the whales, they had to realize for at least a moment in time, that they are the same.