The most advanced form of protest is to grow beyond a need, not to reject it but to forget about it. The future is built. We can lead the future instead of follow it.
This camp shows us over and over that the missing link is human involvement. Good things are not easy, they take maintenance and discipline. We’ve gotten very used to having everything done for us. We don’t look dinner in the eye before it dies anymore, machines do that now before wrapping dinner in plastic for the miles it will travel to us. The appreciation we have can only extend so far, gratitude comes from familiarity. It’s best to know intimately what I’m devouring and respect comes from such an understanding, which in turn leads to less devouring. Today patience is too often not seen as a virtue. Our throw-away culture eschews patience. We don’t even take the time to actually know the things we detest. We don’t spend the time to understand much.
Here at this camp, Oceti Sakowin we sit on contested land. Government says it belongs to the Army Corps of Engineers since the 1950’s when they appropriated it and the Sioux nation says it’s been theirs since the Laramie Treaty of 1851. Hmm.. Here we sit and here we protest because the fact is this pipeline is death and death should not be by this river or any river which are our lifeline, everyone’s lifeline. It’s like an engine block made of plastic–it won’t last. It’s like a go car that has gears made for a semi truck, it’s like a toothbrush for babies or clothing for the wrong climate. Petroleum and water should never mingle and pipelines burst almost daily. We protest this wrong system and call ourselves water protectors.
Yes, mankind is on a continual pattern of continual outgrowth, a plant, a vine, an invasive species perhaps, but some want to call us a virus–I take words seriously, I’m no virus. We train ourselves with our words and with our mindset we apply to daily life what can be a manipulation toward good living if we work consciously. Downsizing is a move toward personal harmony with one’s environment because the ‘take’ is lessened. It’s not even an attempt to address the ‘give’ here because if the ‘take’ is lessened, that IS giving.
Our deficit is the question. One’s personal balance in the world is the question here. We can live a life quite out of balance if not careful. My footprint is my check sheet. Carbon is the currency of exchange and so whatever ability one has to lessen his carbon footprint we can do it. Such is the way of the environmental warrior. The war is with the self. the war is one against personal waste.
It’s easy to see what a wasteful society we’re a part of but it’s hard to implement personal sacrifice to the aid of that society if we fail to respect that society. At all levels of society we can operate in ways that unify our methods into one strong push toward health. In other words it takes all kinds to drive a ship but first the unity of that ship gets made real by a manifest. A mission is revealed and those on board live by these words and thoughts become made real.
In terms of the environment we know what needs done, there are plenty of ideas spread freely already and ‘carbon footprint’ says it all but the real challenge–the singular mission–is in finding the personal strength to downsize all aspects of consumption. Community takes care of alot without wasteful redundancy. From the personal point of view, the dependent individual grows into the independent individual but it’s in thinking about how interdependence works that our mission will be made real. How many cars do 12 cohabiting people really need? Cel phones?
The most advanced form of protest is to grow beyond a need. Imagine.
Protester photo by Tom Jefferson