”What I stand for is what I stand on” Wendell Berry
Since I last wrote, #ExtinctionRebellion has gone boom! Shared by Mr Monbiot to Mr Sanders who tweeted it to the World – what we do now on 31st Oct Declaration Day and in the subsequent direct actions, really matters. Just like everything we do that has consequence on the future – though we are so far removed in time and place, we barely need to think about that – only this time, how this plays out will be replayed to us on a very short feedback loop, over and over again, and the consequences will be deeply present.
I look out on a cloudless sunset skyscape, where contrails blaze across the darkening blue like dragons, beautiful and dangerous. I have thought a lot about what this rebellion is asking folks to sacrifice. Holiday flights. No big deal, surely. But what about those whose family are in distant lands? Maybe growing old and dying. Are they to deny each other a last chance to clasp hands and hearts? Supermarkets. I think of the empty shops in high streets and lack of community hubs across our towns. I think of the vast over cultivated expanses of tree-barren agricultural land no longer growing food for human consumption. I think of all our concrete gardens. Pharmaceuticals. I get real to the fact that many of my dearest friends’ lives rely on a daily dose of drugs. And those so close to my heart, who have choices about how they live because of Big Pharma. There is so much more. Individual car ownership. Home heating as winter is coming. Pure Water preservation.
Remorse. I swim in an ocean of it.
And still, #ExtinctionRebellion appears utterly necessary to me. It is not that these privileges will disappear from our plate immediately. They are the kinds of policy re-evaluations that will be taken to the People’s Assemblies. Decision-making will be distributed among real people who have to live with them, with a firm commitment to living within the means of the planet . A commitment to assuring there are other than human beings still available to sustain those generations, already born, who will be dealing with the exigencies of life on a planet in deep trauma.
And so, Declaration Day approaches and now has a life of her own. The laughter of gods echoes through the corridors of our plots and plans. Where my focus goes now is nonviolence and de-escalation. I have been arrested for civil disobedience – grabbed from behind and face-planted in the dirt by police protecting a lorry from my oh so slow walk. It is not pleasant. It is not nonviolent.
My mind goes to the nonviolent direct action training Rising Up are rolling out to support volunteers. I took the role of a police person in role play and felt the frustration and irritation grow as the activist in front of me refused to move, in the face of all my cajoling and persuasion and even my rising ire. The one next to me cried, and still did not move. It was hard to keep calm and rational. I listened to the sharing of experiences of my affinity group – how they stayed grounded and calm and held their positions – deep breathing; rooting to the Earth; flowing like water; repetitive statements; songs.
Ah, songs. I am resonant to the power of songs – the way these magically manipulative mouths of ours have been gifted capacity to carefully shape sacred sound into words layered with meaning and history. This is a tactic I used to great effect when I spent 24 hours in a holding cell after the slow walk arrest. Cells have incredible acoustics and I would sing for an hour – not always songs, sometimes tones or mantras, til the vibrations were bouncing round the tiny plastic room. Then, in the silence after the sound, when every cell in my body was resetting itself to the highest vibrations resonating around me, I would lay down and sleep – for hours. Deep, nourishing , restorative sleep. When I woke, I began the whole process again, until hours later, I was released, calm and wide awake, to the welcoming arms of the wellbeing team who met us with food and tobacco and music to shake to.
Song. What a powerful tool in the armoury of nonviolence. We will have songs on Declaration Day. Songs to bind us together in nonviolence and connectedness. Songs to raise our energies and songs to help us calm each other. Songs to voice out loud our commitment to make a stand for where we stand.
So, bring your singing voices, rebellioneers. Leave behind the system tools of anger and aggression. However many come, we are a small minority of people who will sing our way back to a world that works for all life on Earth.
by April Griefsong