We Fear What We Don't Know, Get Acquainted...
As a kid, I remember the first time I went into the ocean, terrified of what lurked underneath, the unknown. And terrified that there might be a shark!
In the movie "Jaws," Steven Spielberg did something so clever, and it's the reason that even 40 years later, 99% of people are terrified of sharks, especially great whites. He showed a camera angle from underneath the water, 20-30 feet down, the place we all have our deepest fears, the depths unknown. That one camera angle essentially from the sharks' view made all of us quiver because we have all been in the ocean and thought, "what's down there?" "Can it hurt me?"
Fast forward to this past couple of days, I was able to join a select group including The Gee Family or better known as the "Bucket List Family," and we sailed off the shore of Mexico 200 miles to a place called Guadalupe Island. This place is one of the most popular locations on the planet to find great white sharks.
I've been somewhat obsessed with sharks for years now and I've come to realize that they aren't exactly the monsters that Spielberg made them out to be all those years ago.
Quick Fact - About five people in the world die per year from sharks. 5! There will be 13 people killed tonight in the city of Chicago.
Yet horror movie after horror movie has chosen to focus on sharks. Not because they are dangerous, no, it is something much scarier in this case that they mobilize on; A beautiful but very misunderstood creature, one most have never encountered in person.
I guess that's kind of how we, as humans, are wired. We are afraid of what we don't know, we run from things that are different than us, and we stick to our beliefs/opinions that our parents pass down to us simply because the alternative is just too scary. Too different, unknown, and unsafe.
The funny thing is, I've now swum with more than 15 different species of sharks, and not one wanted to do me any harm. I swam with 14 species without a cage, including with Tiger sharks and Bull sharks. Great whites, the only one they made us use a cage, I would have swum out, but they don't allow it. I would have not because I'm brave or because I'm stupid, but because I've seen them up close, I've been to their environment, and I've seen the beauty that they represent. They are perfect apex predators, yet they are docile and so intelligent. We fed the sharks and watched as they shred their food with all the power we might expect. Yet they, just like people, have enormous respect for those of us swimming with them. We co-exist.
Just like how most people see sharks, we as humans are often afraid of people or cultures that don't look and act like the one we are used to. This isn't something we are born with, and this is just what somebody taught us. We didn't grow up afraid of sharks, it was Spielberg and all the other horror movies showing sharks in their absolute worst light and that one off cases and making them all out to be the enemy.
Who are you currently doing this within your life?
What if all you needed to do was visit their environment and spend some time in their world to realize that these people you have villanized only want to co-exist and be friends?
I can't think of anything I was more afraid of then sharks when I didn't know much about them. Nothing you said could have led me to believe they didn't want to do me harm. It wasn't until I swam in Hawaii the first time with 20 sharks and felt their energy and beauty that I realized I was 100% wrong my whole life about these animals. I'm just grateful I took on this fear cause I now get the reward to live in a world where I get to appreciate and admire their beauty instead of fear them. I get to have amazing experiences like this week, where I can give gratuities for a very misunderstood but genuinely amazing animal.
"The quickest way to kill your enemy is to make them your friend." - Abraham Lincoln
Check out the video I posted swimming with great whites Here