Can we all make a difference? It is a great question. We can all try to help everyone, we can campaign, we can voice our opinions, but do we make a difference?
It is hard to quantify what making a difference is, even small gestures can make a significant difference to a person. Something that we consider as a small gift may change someones life, it may save a life.
We all make mistakes, we all get angry, sad and emotional, but I believe that we can all make a difference to someone.
Challenging ourselves to be better, believing in ourselves.
For the past four years I have been involved with a Charity as Chairman and I believed that as a board of trustees, we were making a difference to to the members of the organisation. I have now left the Charity and many people have asked me why did I leave, because they thought that I was making a difference.
I didn't see it that way, it was the board of trustees who were making the difference, all volunteers who gave different levels of expertise and they were all making a difference, I was just part of the board. We faced challenges, accusations, legal threats and made difficult decisions during my Chairmanship, but it was as a group for the good of the Charity.
When you become the head of an organisation, you must prepare yourself for criticism, you must remain professional and utilise the expertise of the board members and vote according to the constitution and continue along the path chosen by the board. No decision was made that would effect the Charity or it's members without board approval. I was head of the board, but only as a voice, not as a sole decision maker.
A new board is now in place and they will make different decisions, I no longer have any part to play in those decisions. They will take the Charity forwards, there is always fallout when board members leave and new people come on board, they have different ideas and change the way the Charity works. I will help them if I am asked, but I am no longer involved in the decision making process.
The main reason for leaving the Charity was due to family circumstances and health reasons, but it was also combined with a sense that I could do more and that I could make more of a difference and help more people if I was no longer a trustee.
The story begins in Ohio in 2019 and a conversation with Brian Cowden, who is an extraordinary person who has dedicated his life to capturing the Atomic survivor community and telling their stories.
(You can see his work here https://www.labrats.international/briancowdenvideos)
Brian on Runit Dome, Marshall Islands
We had just presented Brian with an award and he told me about why he was so passionate about the Atomic community and told me to read a book called 'The Voyage of the Golden Rule' by Albert Bigelow. He promised to send me a copy.
The copy arrived in the UK a few weeks later and I read it immediately. It was unbelievable, this true story of the crew of a 30 foot ketch who sailed for the Enewetak proving ground to protest the continued use of nuclear weapons.
The Voyage of the Golden Rule - Taken from the book
In late March of 1958 four men set sail in a thirty-foot ketch, the Golden Rule, for the nuclear bomb testing area in the Marshall Islands. Their sailing was a non-violent protest to the continuation of such tests - tests which could threaten present and future generations with their deadly effects of fallout.
Albert Bigelow, master and captain of the Golden Rule, has written a full and articulate account of this project - the reasons behind the sailing, his own difficult personal decision, the two voyages from San Pedro, California, and the government's opposition that resulted in the imprisonment of captain and crew in Hawaii.
The reader is given a clear understanding of the theory of non-violence and the author describes some of the other efforts made by the Committee for Non-Violent Action Against Nuclear Weapons and by the crew who later sailed another vessel, the Phoenix, right into the testing area.
The Voyage of the Golden Rule is an honest and inspiring record of a remarkable voyage and the men who made it. It is an important account of a noble action. one which focused the attention of the world and its governments on a problem that must be solved immediately if mankind is to survive. Above all, it is a calm and eloquent plea for peace on earth by a man who felt that it was "time to do something about peace, not just talk about peace"
Albert Bigelow is a former lieutenant commander on the Navy who commanded three combat vessels in World War II. A painter and an architect, he was Housing Commissioner for Massachusetts following the war. He is a member of the Religious Society of Friends and active in leadership of the New York office of the American Friends Service Committee. He has assigned the profits accruing to him from the sale of this book to the American Friends Service Committee.
Reading this story, the bravery, the dedication to a cause and the sacrifices that he made so that the world knew about nuclear testing is incredible. Albert Bigelow made a difference. Even after the first attempt failed, they continued.
It was at this point that I realised, whilst I was making a difference, I could do more without the constraints of my Chairmanship. I had already established Nuclear Veterans Worldwide which has been running for a few years, so using this platform LABRATS was created. (Legacy of the Atomic Bomb. Recognition for Atomic Test Survivors) This organisation expanded to include everyone effected by the testing program as the effects are global.
LABRATS is the Golden Rule of the 21st century, it is the vessel in which we will ensure that our message that we must never forget the devastation caused by the tests. Providing information to the world, showcasing the fantastic organisations and individuals across the world who are involved in the recognition for the atomic survivor community. We promote stories, engage in discussions and fight for recognition across the world.
We provide a gateway to educate people, to tell the world, to campaign for justice and to ensure that everyone remembers the tests. On July 16th 2020, it was 75 years since the first nuclear test 'Trinity'.
LABRATS is a non-violent, non-political organisation whose aim is to ensure that the world never forgets the testing program and that the servicemen who took part in the tests, the scientists and the indigenous people are all remembered and officially recognised by their respective governments across the world.
The Voyage of the Golden Rule was written in 1958 and it's mission is carried on by lots of organisations today. LABRATS exists today because of the Golden Rule, we must continue their quest. We can all make a difference and the team at LABRATS aim to do that, we owe it to the servicemen, I owe it to my father and brother.
Live your life by The Golden Rule and you can make a difference. I know that I will be.
Life is too short, we do not know how long we will be here, do it now, make the difference.
If you can obtain a copy of the book (at the time of writing this, Amazon were out of stock), then it will change your life. If you are not connected to the tests, it doesn't matter, the dedication, the desire to make a difference is unbelievable.
You can view a copy of the book online here (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.$b637412&view=1up&seq=296)
Visit https://www.labrats.international/ for further details of the organisation.
17th July 2020