Looking at human history, two characteristic stands out repeatedly as our greatest strength when groups and societies overcome threats, face challenges and enact vital changes. Solidarity and unity, have repeatedly overcome oppression, prevailed over disease and altered our destiny – for better and worse.
As civil rights leader Martin Luther King put it, “There is power in numbers and there is power in unity,” (my emphasis). When people unite with a common vision, commit to it and act decisively with hope and belief, we accomplish a lot and are difficult to stop. Solidarity is reshaping our future through growing unity to restore a healthy balance between humans and the sea. The global family of PADI Divers and Torchbearers is a rapidly growing, visible and increasingly influential important part of this. Together, we are making a difference.
One recent example, last year, 23,000 divers added their voices to petition the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) calling for the Mako shark to join the list of species with internationally-agreed protections. As a result, the Mako was among 18 shark/ray species to which CITES added trade controls. This initiative was not the first one – it built upon a previous one, the 2010 success that followed CITES delegates receiving 135,000+ signatures and 245,000+ letters calling for shark species protection – nor is it the last; there are more coming.
Five things to remember about Solidarity and unified people:
- Size matters. The more people who unite, the more power and influence they have. The global family of PADI Divers is – by far – already the largest and most influential diver group that has ever existed, and we’re looking to elevate this voice with a billion or more PADI Torchbearers. (If you’ve not added yet added your name to the PADI Torchbearer list, please do so here.). The reason is simple – the more unified voices we have, the better we’re heard and the harder we are to ignore.
- The enemy of our enemy is our friend. Or in other words, our numbers and strength grow when we ally with other communities that have a common vision, and the bigger and more unified we are, the more allies we attract. As an example, thanks to the size and strength of our global family, PADI and Project AWARE now ally with a growing list of more than a dozen organizations, groups and corporations working together to save the ocean from our common enemies of global climate change, overfishing, plastics pollution and so on.
- We don’t agree on everything, but we don’t have to. The PADI family spans 185+ countries and territories, with 27 million+ divers and 137,000+ professionals spread among every culture and people on Earth – so of course we have different views on things ranging from politics to whether the Beatles was the best band ever. But, our shared vision to save the oceans lets us set these aside and act powerfully, as one, because it is far more important than most of our differences.
- Local/individual initiatives and actions are essential. Though we act in unity, our work happens through the action of smaller groups and individuals. Some of us drive policy changes for the ocean, others do research and yet others restore coral – all required to accomplish our unified vision. Only individuals and localized groups can act locally. To this point, as I write this, a shipping accident has created a major oil spill affecting wildlife and corals of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. PADI Dive Centers and Resorts across the island nation, along with scuba and fishing communities, are joining together to contain, control and clean up the spill, uniting with local NGOs and large portions of the public. This is an individual/group local action, but the rest of us can help too (check out how here) to fund the local cleanup.
- Unified people watch out for each other. When the pandemic hit, like the vast majority of small businesses, PADI Dive Shops and Resorts everywhere took a huge hit – and most are still suffering. But, the unity of the PADI family is making a difference. PADI Divers have rallied behind their local shops and favorite dive resorts by participating in everything from Women’s Dive Day events to continuing their education socially distanced, to Project AWARE activities. Experiencing the joys and adventures of local diving has surged dramatically – and that is helping a lot of dive shops weather the storm.
“A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle,” goes a Japanese proverb. On behalf of the global PADI community, thanks for adding your voice and efforts to ours. Together, we won’t be broken.
Seek adventure. Save the ocean.
Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO