A Letter To My 11-Year Old

Dear Milly,

Us adults owe you – your generation – an apology. I think you know what I am going to say but I should say it anyway.

You know the way the weather is so unpredictable and even the meteorologists seem to consistently get it wrong? And you know the way Mummy with her asthma can’t go outside during any extreme cold or hot? And you have heard that hundreds of our animals are becoming extinct each day? And you know at primary school, one of your teachers seemed almost obsessed with informing you of the Sustainable Development Goals and burgeoning global warming? And you know the way I have become obsessed with how much meat-eating, car-driving and paper-using we all do?

Well, it’s because hundreds of knowledgeable scientists around the world are saying it is because we, humans, may well only have approx 80 more years to live on our precious earth. They are saying that unless we cut our carbon emissions to zero within 20-or-so years, it will become so hot and or wet on the planet, humans will not be able to live here any more. Yes, the earth will become uninhabitable by humankind.

Unfortunately, our friends in the environmental movements cannot seem to get our world leaders to act fast enough on these issues so hundreds of people have pledged to get themselves arrested carrying out repeated non-violent direct actions in order to highlight what on earth (literally) is going on. They say that renewable wind and solar energy should be used A LOT more but I have heard MPs say that it is too complex or too expensive… Not true apparently and certainly not compared to the cost of losing our home: OUR Planet Earth.

So I have come here to say sorry that we have made such a hash of things environmentally. You have stood with us at Balcombe (anti-fracking site) years ago and you have done your bit with Mummy even as you are fed up with rocking up to political events with so many strangers. So I am praying that as you reach adulthood, you will become more involved with this work to slow down this catastrophe and maybe even one day agree to let Mum get arrested even just once. It’s true that there are so many avenues through which to carry out this awareness-raising work but I have been an activist for so long, I feel it is time to make that sacrifice. To be honest, most cops can’t wait to get most of us out of the police stations if they arrest us at all!

I hope you can accept this apology knowing that we are doing our bit to address these issues now, albeit a little too late. Most of all, I am sorry that I sometimes drive you spare banging on about these critical issues. After all, as you keep reminding me, you are “only a kid”.

Love,

Mummy Andria

Photo: Milly having fun whilst protesting the arms fair with CAAT in 2013/14.

Rebellion At The Palace Gates

 

Cold Stone and Fierce Love

My heart is breaking. Every fibre of its delicate sentience is being violated by a reality as harsh as holocaust. Its soft tissues are torn to shreds. I can barely breathe though the pain of it.

Yesterday I attended Extinction Rebellion’s funeral march in honour of extinct and soon-to-be extinct species. It left me broken.

My heart, my fragile human heart, was not made to contain the grief of these times we are living in. It was not made to hold the extremes of death and rage that it is now living with, each day, each breath, each warm, tender pulse.

Participating in yesterday’s ceremony allowed the devastating reality of the global environmental situation to land in me in a way that it never has been able to before. Walking behind the mock coffin amidst the sombre group of a thousand mourners made the extinctions we were there to honour and those that we are threatened with—including that of our own species—shockingly palpable. The fine armour of denial habitually worn to shield my heart from the horrors we are living through fell away somewhere between Parliament Square and Buckingham Palace.

I’ve been trying to shed this armour all my adult life, loosening it and pulling it off piece by piece, only to feel it re-grow again when my attention turned elsewhere for a while. Yesterday a whole layer of the stuff tore off. Being part of the procession, surrounded by others who have shed or are in the process of shedding their denial, overwhelmed any unconscious attempt to turn away from the reality of our global crisis.

Raw, un-shielded, the enormity of the situation broke in on me, the cold facts printed on banners carried by the mourners pierced me like blades of ice.

“200 species lost each day due to human activities.” I find no way to rationalise this fact, nor to bury it. It screams from beneath the soil, eclipses both sun and moon.

Add up the figures:

200 species lost each day…

1,400 species lost each week… 

6,000 species lost each month… 

72,000 species lost each year…

720,000 species lost each decade… 

…through the ravaging of nature by misguided human ingenuity and blind greed.

At the current rate of extinction we will have wiped out all 8.7 million species on the planet in a little over 100 years, and ourselves with them.And the rate of extinction is currently accelerating.

It is impossible to reconcile these numbers with what passes for everyday normality. Our civilisation is literally destroying life on this planet, in the pursuit of consumer paradise. I stagger in the face of the brutality, institutionalised ignorance and systemic denial that allows this to continue. My heart breaks anew with the acknowledgement of my own complicity, however slight compared to many.

Each single species is the labour of ages, an irreplaceable strand in the web of life, a precious jewel in the sparkling constellation of this miracle Earth. To fully feel the loss of one strand is horrible. To be implicated in the loss of 200 per day is devastating.

How to conceive of the conscience of those whose interests in short-term personal gain blind them entirely to the evil they perpetrate?

How to endure the cold faces of business-as-usual sleepwalkers, completely mindless of the damage their consumer lifestyles are causing, utterly careless of the irreparable destruction their everyday choices are supporting? 

Their hard eyes seem made of virtual reality. Their greed is like titanium claws, or like chainsaws, ripping through living fibre. Their unconsciousness of the insidious evil our lives are embedded in is like fracking fluid flooding the chambers of the heart.

“60% of the Earth’s biodiversity destroyed in the last 50 years by human greed and ignorance,” read another banner. By next year that number will only have increased.

How can this be happening? How can it be that I’m only now fully waking up to this reality?

Tears pour down my cheeks from a pool of grief so vast it looks to me like the night sky, an enveloping darkness.

I thought I was getting used to all this. I thought I was finding an equanimity. After decades of environmental awareness and radical choices to limit my impact and re-connect with the living Earth, I thought that I was in touch with the situation. But yesterday’s funeral procession shattered that equanimity. Walking behind the coffin brought home to me the bitter reality of what is going down in a new and savage way. Today I am reeling with a fathomless grief and incandescent rage that is like an image from the book of revelations.

Extinction Rebellion is an apposite name for the movement rising up to fight against the continued and escalating devastation. The heart ignites in rebellion at the inhumanity of the mass extinction we are causing and which if allowed to continue will sweep us away too. The soul of the Earth which resides in all of us floods us with rebellion at what is clearly unconscionable conduct on the part of those who are overseeing the global destruction as well as those who are participating in it—either knowingly or in ignorance. And so we rise up, with fierce love in our breaking hearts, in the name of life, to rebel against extinction.

On the 31st October we roared our declaration of rebellion outside parliament. Last Saturday we took rebellion to London’s bridges and blocked them for a day. Earlier this week we took rebellion to the streets of London and disrupted some of the normality that is destroying our Earth. And yesterday we processed rebelliously from Parliament Square to Buckingham Palace, stopping outside Downing Street on the way to let our tears fall on the road and our songs echo off the government buildings of Whitehall.

There was something deeply mythical about it. I felt a bit like I was in the Iliad: through the streets the procession moved, calling for climate justice in the name of life; our way was lined with police officers and surrounded by the cold stone monumental architecture of establishment power; one could almost sense the divine forces at play overhead which these two colliding factions were representing here on Earth! Although the police gave no obstruction and we left the monumental architecture behind at the entrance to Pall Mall, the invisible friction grew more intense the closer we got to Buckingham Palace.

There was a third element also, which it took me a while to notice but with which there was actually a more intense collision than the with other. This was the more insidious form of inertia represented by the onlookers who read the banners we carried and the pamphlets we distributed but remained unmoved. Some simply laughed and took photos, enjoying the spectacle of the procession before carrying on with their day; others grumpily pushed through the crowds, resenting the delay, intent on their own business. I felt that the disengaged eyes of these passers-by held more resistance in them than the establishment powers flanking the procession, and the invisible force they represented to be far older and deeper than any of the bright warring gods or even the Earth itself.

So many worlds, so many realities, conflicting and inexorable.

When we arrived at the fountain in front of the palace the air was almost crackling with the friction of subtle forces. It looked almost hopeless, our little bundle of rebellion, in the face of so much cold stone and inertia. But there was a power in it that was far greater than the sum of its parts: the power of life and love rising up to shake the foundations of a destructive and ailing system. However small our number, the grief and rage we expressed there before the seat of the nation’s sovereign power was great and marked a historic moment.

There before the palace gates we laid down the coffin. There before the empty windows of the palace we let more tears fall, welling up from our love of the Earth and despair at the failure of those who are titled our leaders to even acknowledge the emergency. There we called upon the Queen to act in response to the existential crisis we face as a nation and a commonwealth. And there we declared that her failure to do so renders the social contract null and void and our rebellion justified in law and conscience. I wonder if she heard us. I wonder if she cares.

I wonder too what powers are preventing her and her noble officers, the British aristocracy, from acting in accordance with the law of the land and the dictates of conscience to respond appropriately to the emergency we, as a nation, are in.

But I know this: whatever these powers are, wherever they operate from, however much destruction they succeed in wreaking upon the Earth or any other part of this sacred creation, their power will one day fail. For they are not love, and only love prevails.

I know this also: however much my heart breaks, however much grief pours through me in the face of what is being lost here every single day and what will continue to be lost in the days, weeks, months and years to come, love will remain, and that love will cause me to rebel against the criminally destructive status quo that is jeopardising our future and that of all beings on Earth.

Rebellion Day- Edinburgh

By Paul McBride

 

   After reading articles and watching a couple of videos released by Extinction Rebellion recently, I was interested enough to ignore the rain and go along to their first Scottish event. I would have joined the march to St Andrews House but had to rush off to look after my grandson. My grandson is a beautiful four-month-old child and like all of us he deserves better than the desolate future currently being sold to us all. The message being promoted by Extinction Rebellion is a message of indisputable truth. The truth of science and the truth of inaction by our politicians and their affiliates/ influencers who set the political agenda.

This is a truth that I sign up to.

Fortunately there is no need for meticulous research based analysis, the evidence is already in the public domain. The challenge is not rediscovering the truth but generating enough support for people to accept the truth as a reality and to act accordingly.

Accelerating environmental degradation will leave billions with two choices:

DEATH OR MIGRATION.

These choices will be non-negotiable. They will not be confined to a predictable crocodile tears response for the war-torn ravages in the Middle East or famine in sub-Saharan regions, but will transcend all borders physical and political, all creeds, all colours and all bank balances. Unless you reside at the very top-tier of the elite power broking class your Mercedes-Benz and your holiday house on a sunny foreign coast will not cocoon you from the unstoppable force of nature. The time of comfort and turning a blind eye has run out. We have arrived at a critical junction in human history where all of us have an urgent responsibility to recognise that rapid systemic change is the only option left to protect the lives of our children and our grandchildren. Continuing to vote vicariously for the 0.01% and their narcissistic apparatus will never open the doors of their entitlement, riches or protection to you or your family.

It will be too late to come together when the human crisis is no longer confined to the millions already fleeing war, persecution and poverty.

It will be too late when tens of thousands dying in the sea between North Africa and Europe is no longer the ugliest political football being kicked around the corridors of power – to allocate quotas of morality.

It will be too late when our own government go beyond the mere normalisation of destitution imposed on its own citizens through policy to protect the profits and false integrity of global corporations.

*

It is in truth not for glory, nor riches nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.

*

These words written almost 700 years ago resonate louder now than they ever have. They resonate not for the declaration of a nation-state nor for the responsibilities of a population to defend and support that nation, but for citizens the whole world over to unite, to rise up and defend our planet. Our planet that supports all nations and all populations.

In public politicians pay no more than lip service to the fast approaching horrors, their “kick the can” monologue makes it conceptually more straightforward for billions to accept the end of the world as we know it, rather than contemplate the seemingly unattainable intellectual leap to dismantle, rethink and rebuild all glaring redundant notions of status quo. Political mainstreams have become inextricably linked to global corporate entities, their mutual aims enshrined in the propaganda that is piped into our lives on a daily basis. Their deception professionally glossed over by significantly the largest share of the 600 billion in advertising dollars spent in 2018, dollars that carefully nurture society to follow their trends and “other” those who don’t. Are voters in modern democracies happy to endorse this model or are they just hamstrung by the institutional variations on a theme that are made available at polling booths? The collusion of government and corporate entities, too easily delegitimise challenge through their ideologically aligned media partners. When the monologue is confronted it simply turns up the volume, changes the agenda or allows rigorous fact based objection to drift off, under or unreported to the margins of the media and illegitimacy.

By inaction and collusion our leaders have abdicated their right to lead. The systemic road blocks are so entrenched that the responsibility to administer the change necessary to prevent global annihilation is all of our responsibility. Right now, we in the UK have the privilege of a formal education, access to information, access to communication and the freedom to express our views publicly. It is our duty to the world while these privileges still exist to use them to their full extent and not only initiate appropriate change but ensure it. Each one of us has a pressing obligation to step into the void of reality left by politicians and the elite and take ownership of the agenda relating to climate change and its global human consequences. At present the only guarantee we have from our duplicitous leaders is the inevitability of a dystopian future. Time is not on our side. I for one do not want to be part of their future. People must act now, people must act in significant numbers, people must break the stigma of being ‘othered’ by our peers and we may be lucky enough to avert the worst outcomes of disaster we charge blindly towards, fuelled by the indecision and negligence of those who purport to lead.

 

Rebellion Day- London

By Tim Jones

The sky was bright and clear, the late Autumn sun still low at eleven o’clock. From Blackfriars Bridge we watched as they occupied Waterloo. We were nervous as we waited for our signal. When we had arrived, just before ten, there were only a dozen others gathered on the north side. We looked to be outnumbered by the hovering police. But by quarter to eleven, when we had moved cautiously onto the pavement of the bridge, we were at least a hundred. We had no idea what would happen when we got the signal.

  We laughed as we stepped onto the roadway of the bridge and lifted our banners across it. We were Londoners from all over the world, from all over Britain. The police were calm and friendly – they had, in fact, blocked the traffic for us. We were full of colour. The number of young children, drawing on the tarmac with chalk, was a joy to see – and a great relief. I had thought we might be dragged off in the first ten minutes but there were three or four hundred of us by midday – a critical mass of people moved to action by love. The news came in: Lambeth, Westminster, Waterloo and Southwark had all been taken.

  In love there is a latent turbulence, an animal uncertainty. It can be a thrill or a terror. Will we be worthy? Will what we love be snatched away? These days I’m scared, a lot of the time. It’s easy to believe that forest fires and hurricanes and sudden drought are things that only happen in far-off foreign places where they’re probably used to it. But this year’s Summer dried up our ancient damp soil and our worms are all dying. The land, soaked with chemicals and slurry, will not keep giving. Apparently the warm weather is good for our vines – so we’ll have something nice to drink when the rest of our produce has to be imported. What will we joke about in the pub when the migrants come in serious numbers? Will they welcome us ‘on the Continent’ if we have to move first? The Atlantic has always been kind to us but that will change and we learned nothing from Fukushima: what would our poets say about their lakes turned still with radiation?

  I felt slightly ashamed of these fears when, on the bridge, we heard witnesses from Ghana, West Papua, The Caribbean Islands and Mongolia, where the cost of our lifestyles and the exploitation of corporate imperialism has been felt for decades.

  Everyone patted George (Monbiot) on the back or got a quick photo with him. We huddled around Phil and his companions who lay on the floor with their hands chained together. Phil has been one of many heroes this week. I met him last Sunday at our training. He’s 82 and the thought of his grandchildren facing a broken planet breaks his heart. I don’t know how many times he’s been arrested so far this week. I can’t remember being so impressed in such a short space of time by so many people.

  There was a collective sense of elation – of happening. But also an anxiousness, an urge to act. A message came from my sister, that our dad had been arrested on Lambeth Bridge – he and my mum and sister had travelled down from Sheffield, leaving at 4am. Then we heard an announcement that police were moving in on Lambeth and that they had fewer rebels than on the other bridges so could any groups go west to support? We gathered and decided to go.

  I should say something about my affinity group. We formed last Sunday, fairly organically, out of a hall of a hundred or so people. We had shared a few messages through the week and spent only a few hours together but, by the time we were hurrying along the South Bank, weaving through the ambling crowds of tourists, there was a sense of absolute trust between us. They are all kind, unassuming and wakeful. Despite different approaches to how things should be done, we decided things together.

  Once we’d passed Westminster, which was full of people but clearly still inaccessible to traffic, we saw the profile of Lambeth Bridge. A small crowd with their flags flying above them clearly held the centre but there was no movement at all on either side, so it seemed clear that the police were blocking access. Then, out of the blue, I saw my other sister. She was strolling along and only noticed me when I waved. ‘What you doing?’ I asked. ‘Just looking for someone to hang out with,’ she said, before confirming our suspicions that Lambeth had been sealed off. So we turned back to Westminster Bridge to see what we could do there.

  Under the shadow of Big Ben, we heard, after some more speeches and music and shifts holding the banners, that the gathering on Westminster Bridge had been declared ‘legal’ by the police. As a group we were mildly disappointed and, perhaps, quietly relieved; some of us were positively annoyed. (Having been respectfully warned in good time, the police were in control of the whole business. In future we might have to be a bit more continental in our approach.) A festival atmosphere ensued. I met my mum, sisters and my dad – he’d been released after an hour or so in a van. I got the stories of him standing his ground and then, as per the training, ‘going limp’. He only weighs about nine stone but it took six officers to carry him away – it was good training.

  As evening set in we congregated on Parliament Square. We were cold and tired but glad, still, to be there. It was a singularly transgressive pleasure to walk onto the forbidden well-watered grass and sit for a final moment of communion. People spoke some beautiful and terrible truths about where we are and what needs to be done. I don’t believe in the dogmas of organised religion, nor do I believe in the definitions of nationhood or the absolutism of ideology. But I believed in everything that was said: Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Marxist, Liberal. We have to accept the truth of conservatism, too – especially when it holds to its name. All these voices speak truth when they speak rebelliously against the order of power, against conformity, against destruction, against superficiality and speak rebelliously for reality, for creation, for regeneration, for a constant active renewal of love. The police stirred when it was announced that three trees would be planted in the pristine grass of Parliament Square. We stood and moved in closer, a few hundred bodies between the law and the trees. I don’t know how long they’ll be there. But we’ll plant more. What is there to do, in moments such as these, other than to quote a great rebel: ‘Even if tomorrow I knew the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.’.

  Beyond the elation of the day, things look bad. We have to relinquish any hope that our way of life can continue. But, even if Nature were not about to put an end to it, is this really a way of life we hope to continue? For many years I have experienced a void between how I feel and what I do. What did I do on the 17thNovember? Almost nothing. But I was there, I was awake, it was a beginning. Now we can do two things: we can lessen the devastation by rebelling and not stopping until things have changed, and we can build a new and better hope that begins and ends in the living world.

  On Sunday morning I met one of my new friends from my affinity group: Marco, who had travelled the long journey by train from Italy to rebel with us. He said something that moved me very much: now, more than ever, we are called upon to wage love.

Tim Jones is a secondary school teacher from London

My Rebellion

I was one of the first to be arrested

Over on Southwark the cuffs fit snugly

Into my assessment of events

We unfurled the banner, hitchless, crispy

Moments after Larch, at the fountain

Laid out a plan for a smart block –

We strode past the coppers

Staked our territory

Held the banner in unicity

With the other four bridges

The bright yellow jackets

Cameras on, batons low slung

Walked us down, we edged back

I shouted to the stragglers

To get behind us –

‘We’ve taken the bridge’

Larch said.

In the cop van with the Teign Valley crooks

About as crooked as the fact that we’re hot

As a planet, a movement -XR prevailing

Van banter, talk of favourite arrests

The Arsenal fan with the flare

(Don’t bring rockets to the stadium

Unless the stadium is television

The rocket, demand for global change)

Someone in the van with a subtle pronoun

The cop self-corrected, kindly chuckling

Before the driver stepped on it

And I enjoyed our public askance

Looking mean at us from London –

Held in a cage at Charing Cross

With a rude drunk who lost a million

Now homeless and glad to get

Bed and food from the Met –

At the custody desk I stood for

The questions, for Rising Up! stood

Gently, firm, so the other sergeant

At the next desk said ‘I agree

But getting arrested is not the way’

No time to argue, led to my cell

An interesting place, no sink for the loo

No dimmer for the light

No rest for the morally correct

But plenty of wall-tiles to while away my thoughts on

And touch with my toes in a workout routine

(This is just the bare account

But I know the hours spent there were

Strengthening in myriad subtle ways)

As for the food, ‘no comment’ –

They tried me with some books

Then pen and paper, nice of them

– Nice of me to them –

Where I wrote my thoughts for spiritual rebirth

For Extinction Rebellion unicity

The mental health nurse

Obliged to see me; my history

Said I should back-pat myself

Achieving my goal of arrest –

Walked down the corridor for release

The third cop of the day agreed with XR

And then there were cheers as I emerged

Into the foyer, disorientating, Woodstock

Had set up camp there

I headed down the stair

Some good hugs and a party declined

(I realised I had just missed it)

Walked to the Underground then

Discussing how to make The Message tight

With my temporary carer

Then in East London

Due to crossed wires

(No fault of my hosts)

Slept rough for the night

Musing on the homeless drunk

Who would also sleep rough on his release

Then in the morning took the Tube

To North Harrow where my mum grew up

Saw a house like my grandparents used to have there

Via Baker Street,  a romantic place that drew me

Into thoughts of not avoiding London afterall –

A couple of days later in my flat

In the rural Westcountry

Watching the bridge blocks on YouTube

Kicking myself that I missed the speakers and

The festival but proud I helped enable it

 

 

 

Why I’m Rebelling against Extinction (wait, should that really need explaining..?)

originally posted by Shaun Chamberlin on November 18th, 2018 on darkoptimism.org

Shaun Chamberlin - Dark Optimism - Extinction Rebellion - Blackfriars bridge

I got arrested for the first time in my life this week. And I’m proud of it.

As long-time followers of this blog know, over the past 13 years I’ve tried everything I know to get our society to change its omnicidal course. I’ve written books, co-founded organisations, taught courses, worked in my community, lobbied governments, given talks, participated in grassroots discussion and action…

I’ve failed. We’ve all failed. As a global society we are accelerating towards oblivion, and taking everyone else with us.

And last week, someone said something that stuck with me. That if everyone around you is carrying on like everything’s fine, then no matter how much one reads or understands intellectually about a situation, it’s so difficult not to go along with that. Equally, if you’re somewhere and everyone else starts screaming and running for the exit, then you probably start running for the exit, even if you have no idea what’s going on.

Maybe there’s seemed to be a disconnect between the message we’ve been bringing – that this society is knowingly causing the harshest catastrophe in history – and the actions we’ve been taking?

Maybe if the wider public see that hundreds feel the need to go to jail over this, they might start to seriously ask why? With these stakes, it’s worth a shot.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/301399993?app_id=122963

That film was shot yesterday on Blackfriars Bridge, one of five bridges surrounding Parliament that we occupied as part of the Extinction Rebellion. The sheer mass of thousands of people meant that the police couldn’t possibly arrest everyone, so the bridges were ours for all the family fun you can see.

But when, at the hour we decided, we collectively moved on, many ordinary folk stayed behind and refused to leave in order to be arrested. If all we have left to amplify the message with is our liberty, then we offer it up.

And paradoxically – as I say at the end of the clip – in doing so we have discovered a new freedom. That following our conscience and refusing to be bound by laws that insist on inflicting death and misery is an act of liberty.

Hundreds of thousands are dying of climate change each year now. Most of the wild nature that existed fifty years ago is gone. What’s a little time in jail, by comparison?

—As I sat in my cell, I felt peace. I knew that I was doing all I could for our collective future, and am proud to have that recorded against my name for the rest of my life.

Perhaps, as ever, Wendell Berry said it best,
“Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success, namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one’s own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence.”

Maybe we can’t stop what’s unfolding, but it would diminish us not to try. And yesterday was the first event I’ve attended that felt as though it might be a historic turning point.

Equally, it might not. That’s up to us.

One child held a placard saying “When I grow up, I want to be alive”.

Yep. See you there next tomorrow.

(and there are plenty of crucial non-arrestable roles too)

 

Eyewitness Account from Declaration Day

From small groups of people rallying up to fight against the profitable eviction racket (known as bailiffs) to a full-blown protest in Parliament Square demanding our oil-lobbied politician rethink about their response to climate change, people are rising and demanding change across the UK. On Wednesday the 31st of October, Extinctions Rebellion peacefully took over London’s busiest intersection to purposely disrupt the mindless routine of the city. 24 hours prior to the organised rebellion, scientists stated that since the 1970’s, humanity has made extinct 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles. By the time our grandparents will turn 90, that number will have risen to almost 80% unless immediate action is taken.

A pool of different eclectics, faiths, and ages poured into the event projecting a heartfelt and welcoming communal vibe. Like a spell, people would fall silent cradled by the melodic pagan-like hymns sung while their smiles and shining eyes spoke more than a thousand words could. The palpable energy pulsating from the drumming and chanting crowd showed the love for our blue earth, and their cry for action was fierce. Amplified by the microphone, Green MEP Molly Scott Cato stated: “We are not here because we understand the importance that our planet has to our survival, rather because we all feel a deep energetic connection with mother Gaia”.

Out of the many speakers, Greta Thunberg, a 14-year-old who has been school striking for climate change, stood in front of thousands to share her message of action. With the latest UN reports stating that we have no more than 12 years before climate catastrophe, the teenager’s perspective of “climate crisis has never been treated as a crisis” deeply contrasted with the child-like inaptitude of our leaders.

Families shed tears of pain for the conditions in which they were inevitably going to leave the future to their younger loved ones. “It is painful for me to accept that the youth of today will never be able to experience the life that I had growing up because we wiped it out”, expressed one grandparent.

In the two and a half hours of public highway obstruction, police officers mingled and conversed with protestors. One officer paid personal attention to the well-being of certain protestors who had locked their arms and laid down on the road.  The mood seemed cheerful and friendly between protestors and law enforcement, giving off the illusion of a festival rather than a protest. A touching moment was briefly captured when Tom, a steward for Extinction Rebellion, approached the yellow-jacketed men and women with “Save Our Children” stickers. The momentary hesitation from their part was replaced by a handful of officers gingerly huddling in with outstretched hands to accept the stickers with prideful smiles. However, the harmonious atmosphere quickly came to an end when a false emergency ambulance was called in by the police to break the crowd apart. Within minutes, new stern faces populated the area shouting, pushing, and intimidating the crowd off the road.

The tug of war between civil disobedience and law enforcement created a divide amongst the activist. With most of the protesters dancing and singing on Parliament Square, the police swarmed the protestors locked to the gates of the Parliament. To create an aversion, a member of “Grandparents for a Safe Earth” decided to lie down with the activists despite having been pushed away by the police several times. The commitment of these individuals being ruthlessly arrested for asking for an emergency response to our polluted laws shocked many bystanders.

But we are not easily intimidated. Extinction Rebellion will take over Parliament Square again from the 12th till the 17th of November to demand carbon neutral strategies from our elected representatives.