The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I love to travel. Any excuse for me to pack a bag, especially to head to Washington, DC, I’m gone. Without a doubt my favorite city in the U.S. But being there yesterday with 50,000 others to attend the Forward on Climate rally and march was more than just a weekend trip, it was very inspiring, energizing and amazing, and I look forward to hearing from our President and Congress on a few of the pressing issues that brought us to Washington.
Those include the Keystone XL Pipeline. Hydraulic fracturing and its exemption from basic safety regulation. The billions of dollars gifted to the fossil fuel industry every year. And let’s not forget the millions of acres the BLM leases for oil & gas permits in our name. I think it is time to remind each other, this land is our land, and we can stop extreme extraction on our land, all it takes is a willingness to speak up and the resolve to stand firm.
And it seems to me, though it may feel like the road less traveled, the journey of an activist is actually our common denominator. We have a long and established tradition of activism in this country. From our founding fathers to our feminist mothers, activists have led and bled for the evolution of our society. For fairness. For equality. For protection. For freedom.
Our founding fathers started a revolution rather than live under tyranny. A tradition we see furthered by Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and others. A tradition we now are being asked to continue. And with new leaders. Now it is Bill McKibben who offers us a vision of our future. He reminds us of who we can be. And that we have a duty and power bestowed upon us by our Constitution, to fight to protect those inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Because I assure you, it is our duty to fight, to take part in our democratic process, to speak out, to get elected, and when all else fails, to get arrested. Yes, we need to take part in acts of civil disobedience. And it is here that my road has diverged from that traveled by many of you. I have been arrested for taking a stand. On September 3, 2011 I was one of those who decided to be arrested during the two weeks of the 1st Tar Sands Action. During that two week period, every day, people sat down in front of the White House, and over those two weeks 1,254 of us were arrested. It is a day I see as one of my finest. And I am proud to be in that select group of activists who has been willing to stand firm, even when it meant getting arrested.
For too long we have sat home and expected others to do our fighting for us. We watched as Greenpeace, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other groups educated members, lobbied legislators, and tried to remind us of our sovereign right and duty to take part in the decisions of our government.
But we were busy. We were raising our children. Falling in love. Or breaking up. We were buying our homes. Or starting a new job. We were going to college. Or relocating. We were on vacation. Taking a sabbatical. Reading a good book. Or volunteering locally. We didn’t have time for meetings or committees. Some days we barely had time to read or watch the news. A few days we double-booked ourselves and missed appointments. We were congenitally running late and finding new ways to manage our time so we could fit in more, but somehow, we were accomplishing less and less.
Our land, money and water were being given to fossil fuel fools. Our schools battered, underfunded and our children fed the same food as our prisoners. Our legislators began paying themselves six figure salaries while our troops were losing their homes and didn’t have sufficient medical care. Our tax code was perverted so that a CEO making millions was no longer prosecuted for embezzlement, he or she was lauded as being great. Corporations were deemed to be people and have a right to free speech. While protestors “occupying” public spaces were denied that same right.
The “grand old party” had a new extreme caucus, the “tea” “party”, and their darlings held the rest of us hostage while they played Russian Roulette with our economy. Now that same party wants to insist we can’t regulate guns, but it is totally reasonable to insist women undergo counseling, vaginal probes and mandatory waiting periods for medical procedures. The conservatives have stated that the old, aged and injured aren’t “entitled” to care and benefits, but just try to take away those billions from fossil fuel fools or tax corporations, and we hear a different kind of entitlement song.
Women can’t be trusted to make decisions for themselves, but those same greedy "thugs", teachers, those who the Republican’s blame for our economic woes with their $70,000 per year salary, health care and pensions, well they should be armed to protect our children while in school, but on the other hand, Republican’s say we don't need to fund education, we don’t need more money for books or better lunches, but they sure do need money for armed guards.
They want us to believe that somehow a reliance on a diminishing resource will lead to economic and energy independence. Sure, just like heroin use somehow leads to sobriety. The fossil fuel industry and their too big to fail buddies at the investment banks, have been busy picking the pockets of our 401ks and funneling the profits from their machinations to offshore accounts, while the CEO’s fight the debt and suggest that unless we “fix” it, they might have to ruin the economy. We have to “chain” Social Security payments but their runaway compensation and spending are not regulated at all.
So now we have a choice to make. To take on this responsibility, to protect our land, to fight for what is ours. To remember, that we are the government and this is our land. To understand that we don’t need fossil fuels, the truth is, they need us, and our money. We can choose to stop feeding that beast. Join the campaign to divest from fossil fuels. And join the movement to get elected. We can stop vaginal probes and decide instead on mandatory counseling for the purchase of certain types of semi-automatic weapons. We can mandate a carbon tax and care for our wounded warriors. We can care for our seniors and stop skewing our tax system and start taxing tax welfare for billionaires.
Don’t tell me you can’t. Don’t say you don’t know how. Now is the time to take the road less traveled. Don’t tell me you are too busy, too inexperienced or too indifferent. Every journey starts with a single, simple step. Start with one simple act, attend a local meeting. Ask questions. What issues are important to you? Your voice and intelligence, respectful discourse and mindful suggestions are welcome.
For more information on the campaign to divest, go to 350.org. For information on getting elected contact me via The Mothers Project at www.themothersproject.org.