I'll admit it. Twenty-four years, when the world was all a-twitter about three gray whales trapped in the ice off Alaska, I didn't get it. I was 20 years old, the director of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, and I was booked on UK television to talk about the marvel of their rescue. And I was kind of snitty about it. It was a lot of money to spend on a couple of whales, i harrumphed.
But the thing of it is this. I may be half-Vulcan, and I may chafe at what appears to be illogical. But nobody - not I, not anyone else - can dictate what people find inspiring, what they elect to respond to on an emotional level. Once the world saw these whales and understood their plight, there was no way they were going to be allowed to die - at least, not without a fight. So what if this is a natural and frequent phenomenon?
Of course, at the time, I was just learning to be a campaigner. Now, I would know better. I would be able to pivot from these whales' story to the bigger picture - of whaling, of pollution. That is what Cindy Lowry did. She was the Greenpeace activist at the center of it all, and while for her the key element as saving those whales, she also placed the story in context. now, over 20 years later, the events of 1988 are a movie, called "Big Miracle," with Drew Barrymore as a fictionalized Cindy. I interviewed Cindy for a piece for Discovery Channel News, which you can read here.