Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by its government.
On the 31st of October 2018 Extinction Rebellion presented its demands to the Government:
• The Government must tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens; • The Government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels; • A national Citizens’ Assembly should be established to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose. I was interested in the idea of mass civil disobedience being a way of bringing much-needed attention to the cause, so I signed up to Mission LifeForce to support Polly Higgin’s work in making Ecocide law in the hope that, if arrested, mine would be another case in the courts that would have to take my status as a Conscientious Protector into consideration. I attended an Extinction Rebellion talk entitled ‘Heading for extinction and what to do about it’ which had me in floods of tears … I was finally in a situation where I could allow my grief to surface, and I was given a way of channelling it into action. The following week I attended unforgettable training in non-violent direct action and immediately helped set up an affinity group for our geographical area. Feelings of fear, passion, anger, commitment and grief were tangible amongst the participants and it was incredibly intense, but the meeting was held beautifully with a very strong emphasis on peace, well-being and self-care. I felt that a weight I’d been in denial of even holding, had been lifted from my heart, and new life and passion was flowing through my veins. I realised how disempowered I’d been feeling in the face of such a huge crisis.
The trip to London came round quickly. Our two teenage children decided they wanted to get involved. Posters were put up at school and college, badges worn and banners painted. Both decided they wanted to come with me to London, so my plan to get arrested this time was thwarted but I rejoiced in seeing them engaging in such a direct way. This was a great chance for them to have a say about their own futures.
Rebellion Day, 17th November 2018, was magical! 6,000 people blocked five major bridges in London and 82 people were arrested peacefully. The feeling of the day was of celebration that the rebellion had started and that so many were happy to engage with it in ways that felt right for them. Because of my dislike of upsetting people, I chose to take on the role of apologising to drivers for the disruption and explaining to them why we felt this type of disruption was necessary. All but one of the responses I had during the day were positive. A double-decker bus driver, business men and women in chauffeur-driven limousines, parents with toddlers in pushchairs, tourists … all wanting to hear more about the rebellion, offering their support and asking how to get involved. A touching closing ceremony took place in Parliament Square with ‘prayers’ from many cultures and religions, and the planting of trees in the centre as a final act of rebellion. Seeing my children responding passionately to the shouts of ‘Whose future?’ with ‘Our future!’ was powerful indeed. In line with everything I had witnessed so far with the rebellion, there was The Pause – a group of people who had taken on the role of ringing hand bells at regular intervals to remind everyone to take a minute to still their minds amidst the excitement and remember why we were there. Poignant moments.
The gratitude I felt at coming home from London to Pentiddy was huge: receiving hugs, relaxing in the woods to reconnect with Nature, picking salad in the garden, and collecting eggs to feed our budding community, then sitting round together discussing the week of coppicing ahead of us. On reflection I have realised that I need both forms of activism in my life, and that the two work really well together. Both have their way of reaching into my soul and
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Totnes Extinction Rebellion Activists on Southwark Bridge ©