You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

Photo by 126 Club, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/booshank/49119161/sizes/m/in/photostream/">via Flickr</a>.

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When I heard about the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards, I was at first a little confused. I knew the name from his renown as the writer behind Jaws, which of course became a film that scared the living bejesus out of me as a child. I was not aware, however, that Peter Benchley committed much of his life to environmental activism after the book, specifically to shark conservation.

His fame came largely from his 1972 novel by the same title about a man-eating terror, upon which the infamous film was based. But now, even after his death in 2006, his legacy of calling attention to the misunderstood beasts continues. For the last four years, his wife, Wendy, has dedicated an award in his name that honors work to protect the ocean and its inhabitants in a variety of areas—science, public policy, media. This year’s award ceremony is Saturday night here in DC.

I recently spoke to Wendy Benchley, who is also the director of Shark Savers, a non-profit that, as the name implies, is dedicated to saving sharks. I wanted to know more about what inspired the shark love, given that my own thought after watching Jaws wasn’t to run out and hug a great white.

“He was just hooked by the power of this beautiful shark,” she said, noting that her husband went on to write both fiction and nonfiction about the ocean. “I would certainly say that Jaws is what opened the ocean world to us and allowed us to go and dive, to research, study and educate ourselves about the ocean and do what we could to try to help with the issues.”

She continued, “Peter’s life mirrors recognition that the ocean is a complicated, vital place, and over last 30 years we’ve been systematically damaging it.”

She notes that while some people may have read Jaws and been terrified (like me), there are also many for whom the book inspired a love of the water. “I would place my best that for every person who was terrified, there were 10, 20, or 100 who were fascinated.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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