I can honestly say that I am motivated by many different things - my family, my friends, a good book, a nice glass of wine, my favourite meal (frankly, a whole blog subject in its own right) and my job. I have said before that I love what I do and am quite content in my world and I really do enjoy asking people to donate money to good causes - especially the work my colleagues are doing at the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre in Nottingham. I know that the term 'good cause' has to be taken in context, it is all relative to your beliefs and philosophy and a conscience helps, I find! But what is it that motivates people to do good things?
In the last couple of weeks, I have found myself thinking less and less about my own situation and more and more about the missing British sailors who, it is now presumed, were lost when the Cheeki Rafiki capsized somewhere off the Azores. At the best of times I would feel natural compassion for the families facing such a terrible ordeal, but I also happen to know one of the missing men, Paul Goslin, and so the normal response was exacerbated by the personal connection I felt as this potential tragedy unfolded and I shared the utter helplessness of the families as the first search and rescue attempt was called off.
It was a roller coaster ride for these private citizens; mobilising a petition and putting themselves into the public eye as they tried to turn the tide with a major organisation such as the US Coastguard. As a relative newcomer to the world of social media, I was proud to play a small part in helping to raise the profile of the petition and the situation through my various networks and connections and was thrilled to hear that the US Coastguard had agreed to resume the search. It felt utterly justified and whilst the end result was not the one we had all hoped and prayed for, the power of the people was certainly something to behold. It has been incredibly humbling to see how the families for four ordinary men were able to behave with such dignity and composure as they battled with the worst thing that can happen to any of us, facing the loss of a loved one; but to have to do in the public eye must be an experience hopefully few of us will ever have to go through. To remain that stoic when the worst of all news came through about the life raft never having been deployed must have been devastating. Whilst the families spoke of closure and asked for privacy, I only hope that now the wreck has been found and marked, that attempts will be made to recover these four brave sailors so that the families can pay their respects for their loved ones in the normal way, without having to wait years for the law to make its judgement when people go missing.
I had a personal motivation to want to support the campaign, but it has been wonderful to see how ordinary people and complete strangers were inspired to do something that could have made such a difference and it is tragic that, on this occasion, it was never going to be in time to save the lives of those four men. It is also interesting that it has spawned a whole new campaign now about why Britain, as an island nation, dependent on the sea for over 90% of our import and export , is unable to mount this kind of search for our citizens ourselves and urging government to make the funding and resources available in the future. Who knows what impact that campaign will have over the coming days and weeks. Meanwhile, whatever it was that motivated over 150,000 people to sign the Cheeki Rafiki petition, I wish I could bottle it - it would make my life and that of my fellow development professionals much easier when persuading folks to support our 'good causes' - whether it is saving lives or just making the world a better place.
RIP - Andrew, James, Paul and Steve