Its not exactly ‘the ARK’ but it is trying to save us from catastrophe. The Police have removed a boat which has the words “TELL THE TRUTH” on the side of it. Well, isn’t that interesting?
I’ve watched videos of TV interviews with Extinction Rebellion people and the interviewers are not challenging the statement that our planet is going down the pan. The last couple of weeks have felt quite overwhelming as I’ve tried to absorb all the information and at least attempt to read the IPCC report (international panel on climate change) which tells us we have 12 years to make radical changes if we want to stop temperatures rising to catastrophic levels. It has been very helpful to combine the activism with meditation.
I went up to London on Monday with the Oxford Meditators and then camped Tuesday and Wednesday evening. These are some of my reflections on that experience as a part of Extinction Rebellion. I am intending to go back next week. Hope you can come and see for yourselves at some point.
Monday @ Extinction Rebellion – a group of us, ‘Oxford Meditators’ went up for the day and it was more like a festival, friendly and easy.
Tuesday @ Extinction Rebellion – In the afternoon I came back with a tent and 2 of us (myself and friend, Sarah) camped at Extinction Rebellion Marble Arch site. That’s a rare opportunity! I recommend the toilets at Hyde Park 😊
Sarah and I went to Waterloo bridge to hear children speak about wanting change. We saw plants and flags, heard music and mixed with a range of people: older, younger, hippies, middle class types like ourselves (!), all sorts.
We then went to Oxford Circus which was more of a party around the pink boat – a very good natured party, where one of the people on the boat gave us an extended argument as to why it was so important that we did not drink alcohol or take drugs while involved here and if we wanted to do that then go somewhere else and if we see people drinking, tell them to go. He explained that drinking and drugs destroys movements and people.
One man started shouting at the police and Sarah walked over to him and insisted that he stop. He took a bit of time to respond but he did stop and over the next 2 days I saw him often and he stayed calm and reasonable.
Something in the region of 8 to 10 police vans arrived and the police then began to converge on the boat. It was intimidating. Sarah and I watched young people being carried out of the circle around the pink boat by groups of 5 or 6 police officers as volunteer legal advisors walked beside them and the crowd cheered those being arrested. It was as peaceful as something like that can be but I found a heavy pain in settle in my guts.
Wednesday @ Extinction Rebellion – DEMOCRATIC PROCESS- a group of about 30 or 40 people gathered at Marble Arch to discuss the proposed action on the underground. The person who gathered us asked if someone else wanted to chair it, no-one did, after gathering some views, he then asked if there was anyone with a different viewpoint. Everyone listened respectfully. We all agreed we didn’t think this was a good idea and the news was sent back to the main headquarters.
I decided that I was willing to be arrested and I sat with the others at the Pink Boat but it’s not as easy as you think 😊. If I’d stayed a bit longer on Wednesday evening then I may well have had the privilege. While I was there I listened to a young german man tell us how big companies are systematically stripping local farmers of the land in many countries and then they starve. It is our money that is being used for this and it is standard practice.. He said ‘have you watched a person starve to death? I have.’ I wanted to cry.
At midnight, I stood at the barrier at Edgeware Road talking with a lecturer in Economics, a frightened scientist, a retired psychiatrist, and others. Other people I’ve met are women who were at the Greenham common, shop workers, couples and single parents with their kids, people coming up from Devon and down from York, a young man who biked from Cambridge… There are people with mental health issues, physical health issues. There are babies and 80-year olds.
And every day volunteers create dhal curry in the evening, porridge in the morning for hundreds of others. I spent a pleasant hour in the food tent on Wednesday evening cutting up onions, garlic and carrots with others.
There are Volunteers carefully emptying the ‘green’ toilet with its plant pots on the top, volunteers checking that those locked onto the boat have food and water, volunteers acting as de-escalators and keeping the atmosphere as calm as possible, volunteers who’ve done some training to be legal observers, volunteers who are willing to be arrested….. volunteers who stand at the barrier through the night, it goes on.
I am deeply moved.
It is also wonderfully liberating not to react angrily to other people’s anger – simply smiling back at a car driver giving you the finger. A young man told us we were just a bunch of lefties looking for attention and told me to look up the facts. I laughed and told him he needed to check his. We parted on good terms.
the police have been very good and the protestors tend to sing ‘we love you’ to them. Several of them made it clear that they agreed with us but they were just doing their jobs. I feel sorry for the ones who were caught on film dancing at Oxford Circus.
Sarah went home on Wednesday and then I met a very able older woman who was planning to sleep out in just a sleeping bag, so she came and joined me in my tent. She’d volunteered to be a legal advisor and got up for a 6am – 11am shift. It was freezing in the tent although it helped when I put on my waterproof trousers as well!
While we were standing at the Extinction Rebellion Edgeware road barrier at midnight on Wednesday 3 young very bright, british/arab men came and chatted to us and asked us difficult questions – they were all the age of my boys – turned out one of them had done a thesis on climate change so I asked him to email it to me and he has. His report is very clear that the temperature rises are human made but following a survey he did, he concludes that we won’t do anything until it hurts us. We are willing to sacrifice the future generations for our present comfort.
I’ll repeat that. This young man thinks that:
We are willing to sacrifice future generations for our present comfort.
I hope not and thousands of people at Extinction Rebellion are not in agreement with that. Come and see what is happening. Come and join us.