What pushes some to the next step? A personal experience or a longing can do it.
I have a friend a year older than me who said while at college he watched from his dorm window protesters rallying to end the war in Viet Nam and his greatest regret was not walking down the stairs and joining them. He waited all his life and one of his proudest moments has been joining the teacher demonstrations at the State Capitol years later, asking for education funding.
There are a couple of songs that get in your head but could have been written for budding activists. Remember that song by Aaron Tippin: You have to Stand for Something or you'll fall for anything? It is the standing for something that can work for you.The other song demands a story. Years ago at the Little Mr. Cherokee Contest for the 4&5 year olds, three little boys sat on the step in the Cherokee Council Chambers in their ribbon shirts with finger-woven sashes when one of them suddenly began a verse of Lee Greenwood's Proud to be an American and just as quickly the other two covered their ears with their hands so as not to hear it!
That's how I feel lots of times when a friend asks me what issue I am working on at a particular time, and I burst out practically in song quickly telling it. It's as if the hands virtually cover the ears of some, but demonstrating clearly: "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."
Who will speak up once I go home and stay on the farm? Land that lies ready for attention without toxic waste or bad water. It needs exploring, butterfly watching and wildflower walks. Fish to catch and clay to dig, process and charm into form. So in preparation for that day, come by the LEAD Agency for private lessons on activism. Sign your kids and grandchildren up for the Youth Activist Trainings that will be held monthly beginning this summer. The pecan tree Janet Humphrey brought for the orchard I am starting there was symbolic. “If your plan is for one year plant rice. If your plan is for ten years plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years educate children. ” ― Confucius
Learn how to be brave enough to speak up.
How do you become brave? Try something new, even a recipe, learn what wrongs need righting and how much this community and others deserve justice. Start with the Declaration of Independence, the right to pursue happiness and focus on the phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag "justice for all."
Activists from the 60's went quiet. We knew how to change the world. Stop wars, clean up the environment, desegregate schools, big stuff like PEACE. But once we accomplished these huge goals and stopped the DRAFT, we got jobs, became our parents and what I say, went to sleep. To replace them or wake up who's left of them, coffee's on at LEAD Agency.
People power can change the world and save sacred and natural areas by speaking up, standing up until the impossible happens.
Chaco Canyon in New Mexico is magic and ancient. I went there once and walked through the canyon with a group of Native 8th graders. The Navajo lived there for several centuries and within the canyon grew peach orchards that helped sustain them. When the Army forced them to leave, Kit Carson and his men cut down the trees and signed the wall in the canyon claiming their work.
100 years later, my son as a 16 year old carried out a service project with the 8th graders, planting a peach tree to begin rebuilding the orchard of the Navajo in the canyon.
This sacred space will be protected from oil and gas extraction because that was banned this week. Protection can come slowly, slower much slower than the river when it rises with flood waters. But it can come.
Two years ago an astonishing event occurred in New Zealand when the government granted the Whanganui River legal personhood—a status in keeping with the Maori worldview that the river is a living entity and conferred on it “all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities” of an individual. The Maori say:“I am the river, and the river is me.” An activist involved in this movement pointed out, "It wasn't the politicians who toppled the Berlin Wall, it was the people."
It can take a movement and you can join it. We have mountains of chat, we have Tar Creek, we have our rivers and what was once the Grandest Lake ever. We have benzene and asbestos at BF Goodrich bordered by a neighborhood, schools and soccer fields and we have children to protect from lead poisoning. And air issues.
Imagine you standing up, taking on our issues, it just takes the people.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim