I woke up this morning to news that the primarily Native American activists protesting the newly desired corporate pipeline in Dakota walked onto private land to block the construction that had started while the appeal is awaiting to be heard in court...and those people were attacked by dogs from the company's private security firm. Yes, PEACEFUL PROTESTERS WERE JUST ATTACKED BY DOGS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. I mean...W.T.F. Is this amateur hour? Is it 1963? Has the opposition not learned ANYTHING from history? Is it "opposite day" when it comes to how best to handle peaceful social justice protests? Who are these awful security people and why should we now trust the people who hired them? Some kind of modern-era Bull Connors from Birmingham styling themselves as "big deals" because they have a walkie and a dog frothing at the mouth? Dogs biting children...sigh...why does history always have to repeat itself? When will people learn? Why do the words of Nelson Mandela feel so necessary right now for those corporate oilmen to hear?
Activism seems very "environmentalist" instead of "environmentalish" of me...I get it. Feels intense. But.... (stick with me after the jump)
"If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy.
Then he becomes your partner."
- Nelson Mandela
Activism seems very "environmentalist" instead of "environmentalish" of me...I get it. Feels intense. But I wanted to take this moment to honor what these brave Native Americans and friends are fighting about and why their success is important to environmental protection. Whether you agree with me or not, you should take a beat to hear the "why" of what they are doing. They are standing up to prevent this pipeline in order to protect waterways and ultimately prevent another Kalamazoo oil spill from happening (which ICYMI was when 250,000 gallons of oil spilled directly into Great Lakes waterways from a pipeline just like this one, carrying *less* corrosive oil than this pipeline would). These people are embracing non-violent activism and organizing across Tribes across the country. It's inspirational, as is mobilization within any peaceful protest movement from Mandela to Ghandi to Dr King.
Also, keep in mind, we're in an era that needs less and less fossil fuels and where the value of crude oil is decreasing and staying low, and so it only makes dollars and cents what they are asking for, as well as sense. Their demonstration is the epitome of what democracy is all about, and as such...as staunch supporters of the Constitution we all are, we ALL must champion their right to free expression.
Even before the dog bites and pepper spray, I could see this movement as a just one, continuing a proud tradition of environmental justice from the Native American community...the community that brought the "seventh generation" philosophy to the sustainability ethos. I've continued to be inspired as an environmentalish environmentalist by the deep cultural connection Native Americans have to our planet. Living here in Seattle, there's homage to this connection everywhere, even at the Seattle Art Museum with this quote from Chief Seattle. I may be white, but the Earth is my sister and I do care. I am humbled by the lessons ignored by those before me and hopeful that they will soon find perch in our modern society. To the protestors I say: thank you for caring and championing for our Mother Earth and I pray your protests remain as peaceful as your cause is just. Keep on keeping on, the enviro(ish) interwebs is with you.