*Abridged from Tom Hastings’ post at HastingsNonviolence.blogspot.com/2017/10/this-land-is-your-land.html. Tom H. Hastings teaches Conflict Resolution at Portland State University and directs Oregon Peace Institute’s program, PeaceVoice.
I traveled to North Dakota to join others in supporting a gentle man who tried to help everyone. For that, he was convicted of several crimes and will be heading to a North Dakota prison.
Michael Foster was born and raised in Texas, in an oil family. His crime in North Dakota was turning off the Keystone pipeline in a symbolic but real call to all of us to do what we can to stop global climate chaos.
That North Dakota valve turn was one of five similar actions last October—two women, three men, five valves on lines in Washington, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota, all done in resonance with the Break Free from Fossil Fuels campaign.
We see the consequences of paying no attention to our oil consumption: Harvey drowns Houston, fires rip through the West, every hurricane is more intense than it otherwise would be, droughts last longer, lakes are drying up, the seas are rising and surging, and, with fracking, even earthquakes are no longer a pure act of God. Most previously natural disasters are now unnatural disasters, made worse by our hand more than the hand of God or Mother Nature.
Earth Day is Sunday, April 22.
We’re raising a united Catholic voice to make the most of this moment. The Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) is creating a complete resource kit for Earth Day to help your community celebrate, advocate, and educate for creation. The kit ncludes:
Register now (http://catholicclimatemovement.global/earth-day-2018/) to receive GCCM Earth Day updates, first-look materials, and more.
Since we are looking forward to the 2017MAC in Guatemala, which is offering a post conference trip to El Salvador, anything Salvadoran catches our eye. The Catholic News Service and other publications recently announced that a law passed in 2017 phases out all mining for metals in that Central American country. Last year the Salvadoran government won a $300 million lawsuit brought against it by a unit of a Canadian-Australian mining giant, Oceana Gold. The government had denied mining permits to a new project; the company then sued for lost profits. Activists reported that recent deaths were related to disputes over mining and that mining operations have caused water and soil contamination. Demonstrations, a petition signed by 30,000 people, and advocacy by the Salvadoran Catholic Church pushed their congress to institute the ban.
Similarly, a New York Times article, “El Salvador, Prizing Water Over Gold, Bans All Metal Mining,” reported, “Declaring that El Salvador’s fragile environment could not sustain metal mining operations, legislators across the political spectrum approved the ban, which had broad support, particularly from the influential Roman Catholic Church.” (March 29, 2017 - https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/world/americas/el-salvador-prizing-water-over-gold-bans-all-metal-mining.html?_r=0)
As a US Maryknoll Affiliate, MLK Day and the presidential inauguration caused me to step back to re-evaluate and consider how we might step forward. So I have gone back to notes and excerpts from books I’ve read the last couple years to look for helpful guidance. 2017 is an amazing time, in so many respects. I feel very unqualified to be living now and to respond to all that this era demands. In particular, we face a crisis of millennia with climate change – a crisis we/our culture have brought on, and which will take the lives of many if we do not do something about it very soon. We are late in the game, so I must and will say very clearly: it is time for us to get off of fossil fuels—now—all of us. Ethical, even pro-life action carries a deeper urgency and moral call. This is something we must do. It’s as big a deal as the Holocaust.
The Chandler–Isacksens run the Be the Change Project in Reno, Nevada. They live in voluntary poverty, grow lots of food, serve in their community, are war-tax resistors, and attempt to live their lives in alignment with their values. They attend the Reno Friends Meeting and have frequent contact with the Reno Affiliates. (See two previous articles in the NSFA: July/Aug 2015, p. 5, and Sept/Oct 2014, p. 6.)
We reached the Dakota Access Pipe Line construction site at about noon on September 27th. This was an hour after prayers and reminders from native leaders at the frontline camp and after driving 30 dusty miles over empty North Dakota back roads. The front line camp is just a mile up from the large Oceti Sakowin camp, home to a couple thousand people while we were there. “We have many warriors with us today who will protect the elders, the women, the children. Remember, this is a nonviolent action.”
One hundred packed vehicles made it to the action that day: overflowing pickup trucks with masked youth from the Red Warrior camp (those willing to get arrested and in it for the long-haul) sitting alongside gray-haired elders holding signs that say “Protect the Water,” horse trailers with horses, license plates from across the country, our family in a rental car getting dustier by the mile.