Committed Sardines

First, an aside. A blue whale is the largest mammal on earth. An adult blue whale is the length of 2 1/2 Greyhound buses put end to end, weighs more than a fully loaded 737, has blood vessels large enough for an adult to swim down, a heart the size of a Volkswagon Beetle, a tongue 8' long and weighs 6000 lbs. A baby blue whale is estimated to gain more than 50 pounds an hour from birth to age one. The blue whale is not only the biggest, but the loudest animal. At 190 decibels, a blue whale's call is louder than a jet (140 decibels), and much louder than a person can shout (70 decibels).

"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world - indeed it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

A little known fact is that a blue whale is so large that when it decides to turn around, it can take 2 to 3 minutes to turn 180 degrees so that it can swim in the opposite direction. This slow mover reminds us of another slow mover, our school systems. It just seems to take forever for schools to turn things around. Our ability to adapt to changing times helps explain at least in part the rise in demand for vouchers, charter schools, home schooling and virtual schools. There are some people who just don't believe our school systems can change or don't want the public school system to turn things around.

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But compare the way a blue whale turns around (slowly) to how a school of fish turns around - specifically a school of sardines - which can have the same or even a greater mass than the whale. A school of sardines can turn almost instantly. What's their secret? How do they know when to turn? Is it ESP? Do they use cell phones? Are they using the Internet?

The answer is simultaneously a little simpler and quite a bit more complex. If you take a careful look at a school of sardines, you'll notice that although the fish all appear to be swimming in the same direction, in reality, at any time, there will be a small group of sardines swimming in a different direction, in an opposite direction, against the flow, against conventional wisdom. And as they swim in another direction, they cause conflict, they cause friction, and this causes discomfort for the rest of the school.

But finally, when a critical mass of truly committed sardines is reached - not a huge number like 50 percent or 80 percent of the school, but 15 to 20 percent who are truly committed to a new direction - the rest of the school suddenly turns and goes with them - almost instantaneously!

Isn't that what became of our feelings about smoking? Isn't that exactly what happened to the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union? Isn't that what caused the Internet to suddenly appear overnight? Each and every one of those events was an overnight success that took years in the making. Overnight successes that took a small group of people who were truly committed despite the obstacles, challenge, yabbuts, and TTWWADIs to make the necessary change.

That's why we're Committed Sardines ... Thinking Outside the Can!


Mexican Sardine Run | Pelagic Life from Pelagic Life on Vimeo.