When you’re faced with a daunting challenge, fear is a natural response. But when you face that fear, it puts you on a powerful growth edge that can push you to new levels which you’d never have expected.
When you have done things the same way all your life and all of a sudden meet up with something, someone, some notion, some radical action that changes your world view, you are stopped dead in your tracks and/or you are compelled to act in ways so different from anything you have ever done before.
This has been the source of profound personal transformation for me and many others, I believe, in Peaceful Uprising.
Tim’s action turned my world upside down and absolutely required me to be bold and courageous in my actions.
Now, my actions were nowhere near as bold as Tim’s but they were damn bold for me - always following the rules, making the rules. It was time to start breaking the rules.
The rules said, when the government says no, you say, yes sir, cower, and go away. We didn’t.
Instead, we marched, thousands of us through the streets of Washington, DC. First, in a permitted march … safe, no rule breaking there. Then, about a thousand of us broke off into an un-permitted march. Safety in numbers, still. Then 300 entering (the newspapers said, we “stormed”) the Department of the Interior (DOI), demanding the end of fossil fuel extraction - the end of mountain top removal in Appalachia; the end of fossil fuel extraction off the Gulf Coast of Louisiana (BP oil spill); the end of tar sands mining in Canada and NO to starting tar sands mining in Utah; and NO to shipping coal to China from Wyoming !!
And the lobby of the DOI was filled with a cacophony of sound - voices and chanting and drums. And we sat down and began to sing. All the songs we had learned for Tim’s trial, the songs of the 60’s, the songs and the lyrics we had created for now. And those songs gave us the strength to resist and reminded us that we were part of something so much bigger … a movement … the climate justice movement.
Soon the police arrived. OK, folks, time to leave, we’ll give three warnings, after that felonies, arrest, and jail.
And the fear crept in. The young girl sitting next to me decided she must leave. And others left, little by little, our numbers dwindled as each warning was given, stronger, more threatening than the one before.
And it shook me. And I found myself falling into fear’s clutches. But that is when my friends stepped in with two critical actions that saved me. My partner, Ben, who entered the DOI with me and Cori, said, “Just remember, the police aren’t required to tell you the truth. They aren’t telling us the truth. This is NOT a felony.”
I started to regain my courage. And then, I looked over and saw Jake, and Krista, and Cori, with whom I had journeyed to this action. Fighting for their lives. I could not give into fear, I could not let them down. I would not let my children and my future grandchildren down. I would not submit to fear.
And we sang through the fear, and we sang through the afternoon. We sang and sang until Krista and I were the last ones in the DOI lobby. And then, they arrested Krista. And alone, with the police, I sang, confronting my fear, defending a livable future. The last to be arrested. Singing Peter Meyer’s Blue Boat Home.
When I look into my children's’ eyes, I know in my heart that this is what I must do. Defend their future, confront my fears, taking whatever action is required.