What would you do to save the world? Or at least your precious piece of it?
Would you risk your career? Your home? Your permanent record?
How about ten years in prison? That’s what my friend and fellow climate activist Tim DeChristopher is facing. As we’ve told you many times, in Dec. 2008, Tim walked into a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) auction and bid on millions of dollars of oil and gas leases to derail the auction and prevent oil and gas companies from drilling and killing pristine Utah wilderness areas. He also did it to protect the climate from the greenhouse gas emissions. Tim did this out of love for the wilderness, the planet and the people on it.
As Utah writer Terry Tempest Williams recently remarked during last week’s Kentucky Rising action, “civil disobedience is an act of love.”
That was Tim’s action, an act of civil disobedience and an act of love.
As a blockades trainer, we teach that when you make yourself the most vulnerable that is when you see the harshest response from the forces that you fight. In a sense, we got at their force and hate with love and a lot of perseverance and determination.
It’s happened like that for a long time.
In Birmingham and Selma, police thugs used water cannons and police dogs. Yet the peaceful protesters persevered and ended segregation. In Seattle and Miami, police thugs used tear gas and rubber bullets. Yet we persevered and stopped the World Trade Organization and the Free Trade Area of the Americas. In Cairo, thugs charged on horses and camels to trample and intimidate. Yet millions of unarmed protesters persevered and threw Mubarak out. In Libya this past weekend, Gaddafi’s foreign mercenaries used machine guns on a funeral march to not only kill unarmed protesters but also to scare others away from the town squares and mass marches. Yet they persevered and have taken over Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi, and sparked resistance in Libya’s capitol Tripoli.
In Utah, Tim DeChristopher crashed Big Oil’s party and derailed the BLM’s land giveaway and now federal attorneys are prosecuting him to the fullest extent of the law to teach ALL OF US a lesson. But, we will persevere and not be intimidated. Believe me, we won’t be intimidated.
And what’s the reward? These seemingly disparate movements against segregation, corporate globalization, Middle Eastern dictatorship and Big Oil’s doomsday economy are all connected by love. Love for each other, love for the planet, and love for people we don’t yet know and may not ever know. We are all too familiar with the risk, but love is the reward.
Next week, on the morning of Feb. 28, I’m joining my friends from Peaceful Uprising (the group Tim co-founded after his action), RAN, Rising Tide and lots more from all over the country in downtown Salt Lake City to bring a little love, a little joy and a lot of perseverance. If you are nearby, join us. If you aren’t, organize something to be in solidarity with Tim in your town.