For Mother’s Day I decided to give my kids a gift and go to jail for them. I have two beautiful boys who have brought me endless amounts of joy, and sometimes sorrow. They are not awake yet. When they do wake up I expect the usual card and a small handmade gift. I love mothers day and I have kept every little trinket they have glued, sewn, painted and decoupaged.
This year I gave them a gift. I was arrested for fighting for their future. I have worked tirelessly to get our public officials to stop poisoning our air, water and soil and to stop the bullet train we are on headed for a cliff that is climate change. But there is no getting off. It seems our politicians, along with their friends in dirty energy corporations have locked us all on this high speed trip to death and suffering. I have written, met with, begged, petitioned, campaigned for and against and still these politicians and policy makers do little to protect our children and future generations from what we have done only since the industrial revolution.
As a fairly young person (but my children remind me just how old I am every day) I am furious; Furious that some old guys in nice suits only seeing profit have thrown away our entire planet and indirectly murdered millions of innocents. Do you think that view is extreme? Look at the extreme weather mostly caused by climate change. Look at the glacial disappearing act that will sentence millions to die from lack of drinking water. Think of the millions suffering from air pollution. Think of those who will lose everything in coming hurricanes and floods
Those people perpetrating these acts for money are the extremists. Those fighting to stop them are the sensible people.
Think of the people of Fukushima who will die decades early from the damage to their bodies inflicted by an invisible enemy. The actions of our corporations and their enablers in our governments have continued the war on the young. They will be long dead and their children will have fat trust funds while my kids will have toxic superfunds. We must fight for our kids, even if it means getting arrested.
This year I was able to put some faces to the organizations causing this devastation and one of them belongs to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. That is why on April 18, 2011 myself and several hundred others occupied the Department of the Interior demanding to speak to Secretary Salazar. We were there for the annual climate leaders convention called Powershift. 11,000 attended. We were there from frontline communities being poisoned by the gulf oil spill, Katrina, strip mining, tar sands, oil shale, fracking, coal burning, oil refineries, and finally the mother of all destruction, mountain top removal. The U.S. government policies not only enable corporations to poison our children and walk away, but those policies mandate they do so. Our public lands are leased for these toxic persons by policy mandate. That must change.
We literally sang for our lives that day as the Department of Homeland Security warned us that we would be charged with felonies. What is a felony when we are fighting to stop the suffering of so many? What is jail time when we can see what our government policies have done in the gulf and in West Virginia? Many got up and left. 21 stayed and took a stand, while sitting and singing.
This is important work that is happening and the several hundred college students who participated will take it home with them. They will know now that they don’t have to stand for the status quo and that they can make sure their leaders start to finally listen to them. 9 others were arrested the day prior to Powershift in the Citizens Filibuster action. But for the 30 people arrested at Powershift we must help them jump through all of the legal hoops to continue to remain activists.It takes money, lots of money to fly and drive 30 people back and forth to DC for an arraignment and more.
Some may say, you have ruined your future. My inaction and inability to fight for the lives of my kids have ruined my future and theirs. Life will be exceedingly difficult in the world that we have set on an irreversible course of warming and environmental degradation.
The plane ride I will take today will stay in the atmosphere for 200 years. There is no way to remove it despite all of the wacky, but hopeful scientific claims otherwise.
I am working to teach my sons to stick to the courage of their convictions, really stick to them. I often have wondered if I would have had the courage to be a freedom rider, to fight segregation or to speak out against the Vietnam War if I had lived in those times. I know now that I don’t have to wonder because I am on the front lines of the greatest challenge humanity has faced yet and I am fighting for our lives. Our lives on this planet can be spectacular but are always brief. I want my boys to know we must use our lives as a gift and give to others. I work daily on social justice issues and I they often work with me going to hearings, writing, lobbying, advocating, and marching.
Fighting for justice and living sustainably are present in our daily lives and we are more connected to each other, to nature and more aware of being alive because of the way we live. I feel so much joy when I garden, walk, bike, and work to help others and I get to share that with my sons. Few scientist and as a result public figures want to level with us. Few will actually admit that it is too late to stop climate change yet many of them know what is coming. It is too late. All we can do is minimize the damage and try to prevent as much human suffering as possible.
This evening, on Mother’s Day, I will get on an airplane to go to Washington DC for my arraignment on charges of misdemeanor unlawful entry. It carries a jail sentence of up to 6 months and a $1000 fine. I am happy to do it. When my kids are adults and they see the devastation caused during my lifetime affecting them they will not have to wonder if I tried to protect the planet and take care of them. They will know exactly which side I was on by my words and actions.