As I Walked Out to the Streets to Block Traffic: Extinction Rebellion and the Battle For Life On Earth

It’s that time of year, in fact as they say, it’s that time of life. It’s that time for show-downs and choices, for heroes and villains, that time for fighting in the street. Yes, as the temperature moves to the cool of autumn the friction of action is heating things up on a global scale, seriously!
Around the world, from Hong Kong to Paris to Lebanon, Ecuador and Santiago it’s catching fire in those spots where passions rise with public unrest, civil disobedience and revolution. In London the extinction rebellion has been outlawed. In Hong Kong it was laws against masks and folks in South Dakota are being convinced to go along with throwing away their rights and a piece of the constitution with new anti-protest laws designed to protect oil pipelines. Whistle-blowers and truth tellers sit in prisons while the cream of the bought and sold elite enjoys the spoils of their crimes.
The wealth gap continues to grow forcing millions into poverty, 2 million people here in the US still sit in prisons, pressure from refugees fleeing violence and climate disruption still push at the gates and too much co2 still comes spewing out from the exhaust of the industrial machine. The wars the empires wage to subdue the world, steal the resources and grease the pockets are now undisguised; out-right criminal actions having dropped all pretense of those silly notions of things like spreading freedom and democracy. Trump and his gang move closer every day to that most hated and dreadful of outcomes for the world’s most lethal power, further movement towards dictatorship and fascism.

In my little town the extinction rebellion has begun to organize. You can feel the restless feeling of the calm before the storm. Meetings in coffee shops, bookstores and cafes are getting frequent, focused -serious and there’s a sense of apprehension, excitement along with a touch of fear.
I’m reminded of course, as I think many of us are, of those days almost a decade ago, back when many of us were ourselves involved or were watching from the side those occupiers, activists, marchers, chanters, jailbirds. This time the growing movement, still in its prime, feels larger, a bit more desperate, a bit more radical, and a bit more lawless. Yes it’s getting on towards high noon here in the World and there’s a showdown coming to the streets of our towns.

Did you ever watch any of those old movies where the drifter rides into town, stops for a drink, only to find himself falling in love with that extraordinary but lonesome girl just off the train while being unintentionally drawn into the towns little war against a pack of ornery rustlers, hustlers and thieves? As old as any myth the story unfolds the hero with nothing left to lose and everything to gain, the goddess whose beauty and virtue inspire the hero to face life and death with a firm, earnest and honest resolve.

The townsfolk who, subdued and oppressed by the villains violent and ruthless power cower in their shops and homes, hating the subjugation, hating the disruption to their lives that any confrontation between the forces of good and the evil would bring, hating their own lack of integrity and courage in the face of desperate times.

No one likes or believes in the hero, except of course the goddess whose own life will soon be on the line, held hostage by the evil force of every bad man. The locals fear the hero’s independence, his freedom, his courage and most of all, his example.

High noon arrives and as we who have watched the movie or read the book know, that’s the time of the show-down; there will be action in the streets.

This my friends is where we stand today. The myth becomes reality. The villain is corporate and government sponsored environmental destruction. The townsfolk are all of us, trying to just live out our lives in peaceful prosperity. The goddess is nature, loved by all for her beauty but so often misunderstood, abandoned, used and abused. The hero is the extinction rebellion and all sincere activists, drifting through town intent on righting the wrong, challenging the villain, setting the example and hopefully, when it’s all said and done, settling in for the life ever after with the glorious goddess.

Will the townsfolk be annoyed at the disruption to their daily habits and routines? Will they slander and turn their backs on the hero, preferring the safety of their servitude to the danger of freedom? Will they cower and hide hoping that this confrontation will soon be over so they can get back to work? Will the townsfolk hang their heads as they are found wanting in the face and time of danger? If the hero fails will they say he had it coming for daring to challenge the authority of enforced mediocrity, apathy and submission? If the hero prevails will the townsfolk then timidly approach the hero with gratitude and thanks-giving saying “we were always there, for and with you”? Yes, yes, yes and yes!

It’s quite here in our little town today, the grass is wet, the sun is out and the birds are singing. Folks are at church or on their way to brunch or to a visit with family or friends; maybe a bike ride or short hike is in store for this afternoon. It’s a wonderful life and it should be- but beware, there’s a storm that’s coming. Environmental collapse is as real as it gets. The heroes and the villains will be meeting in the streets; there will be disruptions, danger, desperation and displays of courage, honor and sacrifice.

Your life may be affected, inconvenienced, disrupted; you may find yourself stuck in traffic or called to the aid of some friend whose actions have resulted in their arrest or worse. This is the nature of times like these, this is the nature of pivotal moments when the forces of good and evil clash in chaos and uncertainty. This is the nature of those moments when free people take a stand against the forces of greed and destruction. Where will you stand?