On will and method

16 October, 2019
By Marco Levi

Turtles have a lot to teach

Turtles are known for their wisdom, but most of all for being slow. And yet, however slow they may appear to be, they always reach their destination. Driven by will. And the turtle is the symbol, as well as the main character, in this beautiful, earth-conscious tale coming all the way from India, specifically from Versova beach, right in front of the Ocean.

Thanks to the will of Shah Afroz, a Mumbai lawyer whose heart is in the environmental cause and the sea, turtles were finally able to make their way back to that very shore after more than 20 years in exile. Up until 2015, Versova beach was among the most polluted in the entire planet. It is estimated that the cumulative weight of the plastic, toxic and generally rotting waste lying across its approximately 2.5 kilometers of sand reached about 5000 tons. Some inhuman wasteland indeed.

And so, tired of helplessly looking at such a desolate sight, one day Shah Afroz pulled up his sleeves and decided to clean it all up.

 

Changing the world with bare hands

The first few months were the hardest for the young lawyer choosing to protect the environment outside the court of law, with his bare hands. His only ally was a pair of gloves which, little by little, he began dismantling the endless mound of trash with. Nobody, at the beginning of his difficult journey, was willing to accept an invitation to collaborate on what he calls "a date with the ocean".

Yet Shah's efforts never waned. Against the sun, the heat, the unbreathable air, against a system that doesn't even see him. He only follows his will, like a turtle. Then, the first small miracle takes place: a group of fishermen notice him, and suddenly the lawyer is not alone anymore.

Since that day, a small army of volunteers begins progressively gathering around the tireless Indian. And over the course of just one year, the results are so outstanding that even the UN takes notice, conferring him the title of Champion of the Earth for 2016.

Thing is, our young hero isn't after titles nor honors. The road to clean up that dump of human selfishness is still long. And so, day in and day out, with the help of many hands, the work goes on. Until a true miracle happens.

After 127 weeks of work, suddenly, one fine morning the turtles reappear. Shah has tears in his eyes. Like David, he has defeated Goliath; his joy pours out in a tweet:

I knew something big was going to happen. I had tears in my eyes when I saw them walking towards the ocean

 

The conscience of all the turtles in the world

Shah's story isn't just relevant to the turtles, nor is it relevant just for the sea, whose breath can now grace those shores once more. No, this story's primary focus is on will. Will shows the amount of potential power just lying dormant in every human being. However, such power isn't always available: it needs to be awakened, if a goal is really to be reached. And in order to wake it up, a method is necessary.

Method is the way of will. The work of the young lawyer is a clear manifestation of the magical pairing, will/method. A path made up of small steps, moving in time and outlining objective growth, represented here by a mountain of waste that nevertheless goes down a little every day, until it disappears. Easy? Absolutely not. Possible? Yes. This symbolizes every kind of method. Not the goal, but the journey to get there. Maybe even slowly, little step after little step, like a turtle.

 


Photo by Andres Abogabir on Unsplash