something to honk about
I let this happen. We all let this happen. Every day that I get in my car and drive our kids to school and drive myself to work and drive to the grocery store for food, I let this happen. We can’t drink the petroleum oil. But we can put it in our cars, drive around, and continue our lives as usual.
Now as brave water protectors hold the line in North Dakota preventing the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built under Lake Oahe and the Missouri River, they are being harassed, beaten, arrested and sprayed with a water cannon in the dark of night in freezing temperatures.
Meanwhile, the insular privileged leaders of both the Democrats and Republicans led their parties down a path towards what they each defined progress to be; while leaving the concerns of common citizens largely unaddressed, creating a giant leadership vacuum at the top tier of both parties. The result of which was two candidates no one wanted in the final face-off to win the highest seat in our democratic government, the winner being the less-evil by electoral votes and the more-evil by popular vote.
Those that counted themselves winners were stunned into near silence by the 2016 election result while the those that counted themselves losers ran around like Chicken Little yelling “the sky is falling!”
The future of our nation is tenuous right now, but there are some things we know to be fact. Crude oil is the foundation of our economy. The price and availability of this crucial resource affects everything important to our survival from our food supply to maintenance of our infrastructure to our ability to get to the jobs that support our families. And, crude oil is limited. Our effort to maintain a supply overseas has disrupted the stability of other nations and cost many lives of our soldiers and theirs. Our effort to create a supply more locally on our continent have resulted in massive environmental destruction, loss of wildlife habitat for already threatened species, as well as poisoned land and water.
This is not sustainable. We know that already. We also know that as regular citizens, we are not the ones that profit off this irreparable resource extraction. The corporations profit. The global elite profit. We the people will be paying the price for generations to come.
Many of us have known for a long time that the answer lies in lifestyle changes as well as systemic infrastructure and policy changes. Many voices have used their platform and their influence to share this message with us.
But real change has been very, very slow. The resistance of society’s momentum in the current direction has been very strong. The resistance of corporate power and the global elite shaping our public policy has been very strong. Our own individual resistance to change when we are relatively comfortable and safe (for now) has also been very strong.
We must be stronger. We must take back our power. We must rise up and find ways to bring change faster. Or it won’t be pretty.
We are already the ones drinking the poisoned water and toxic food while they have filtered water and organic food. We are already the ones living paycheck to paycheck and taking handouts while they have million dollar salaries and golden parachutes.
We watched as the flower children dropped out and created new paradigms. We watched as they were worn down and subdued and swept under the carpet.
Now it’s our turn to try and resist the oppressors. As we can see from these images of water protectors standing up to the paid mercenaries of corporate profit, it won’t be easy, we will pay a heavy cost. The oppressors will not “go gentl(y) into the good night.” They will open their fat wallets and pay people just like us, people equally as oppressed, to fight against us. The oppressor won’t be on the front line. We’ll be fighting ourselves. Again.
Look at those photos. The police officers and security guards are not our enemies. They are just like us. Worker bees. Slave to the system. That is why the water protectors went to the Morton County police department offices with a message of forgiveness and joined hands in prayer signifying that the police are not the enemy we are resisting.
While the brave water protectors put their bodies on the line to hold off the construction of this pipeline, we must be a support to them. We must be the resistance in our own towns, on our own frontlines.
1. Spiritually, we must hold in our hearts the vision of a future that sustains ALL people.
2. Mentally, we must pursue solutions to the challenges we face, designing new systems, and adapting the old ones, to achieve our vision of a sustainable future.
3. Physically, we must immediately make sacrifices. Use less, drive less, buy less. Our dollars fund the system and using our dollars counter-culturally can bring the system down and rebuild a new system.
On Thanksgiving Day this Thursday, I will give thanks and pay respect to the First Nations people whose land and lives were taken. On Black Friday, I won’t shop, I will #optoutside and go for a hike instead. When holiday gifts are exchanged next month, I will make them by hand or buy local crafts, or write a loving card or letter instead. Also, if I am able, I will make a charitable donation in someone’s name.
These are small things that help me align my actions with my values. Much more is needed. Sacrifice is necessary. I’m ready, are you? Onward.
Mni Waconi. Water is Life.
[author’s note: I wrote and published this article my personal blog as well. These words are my own.]