Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Green Activism, May it be Nonviolent

Green Activist may need to act quickly because of the ticking bomb which is climate change, but they should do so peacefully

One only needs to look at violent protests of the past and realize that such discretion leads nowhere. The American civil war didn't give black citizens institutionalized equality; it was a nonviolent movement by Martin Luther King, Jr. a century later. King's nonviolent protests closely followed the teachings of Ghandi who said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." Now it is zealous green activists that are trying to make the world see the consequences of climate change. Like past activists they have a choice in the way they speak: violently or peacefully.

Recently, there have been violent exchanges between officials and protesters at Ratcliffe-on-Soar. The coal-burning power station has been trying to clean up its act for years. Some believed enough was enough and took the fight to the streets. While a group from the 1000 protesters tried to break into the plant, a police officer was injured and airlifted because of severe head injuries. Twenty-two were arrested, as a section of the fence was torn down. The skirmish demonstrates the severe frustration people have with the energy company. However well intentioned, such work does more harm than good.

A more intelligent response by Climate Justice Action is to carry out a peaceful demonstration. Spokesman Tadzio Muller, describes a planned march in December to the COP15 Conference on Climate Change: where an army of protesters will pass police barricades as close as they can so that they can hold their own summit with their allies and any officials willing to discuss the planet’s future. The goal is that their collective voice will be heard, loud and clear.

Nicholas Stern said, "Only under severe public discussion will we account for climate change." This assertion agrees with the relatively new field of narrative psychology. McAdams (2000) posits that it is the internalized story that we share, repeat, and retell that confirms our cultural identity therefore our character and our future. Activists who often consider it a fight will take it there; those that recognize the need to work with the snail pace of government will take it there. Leaders are the ultimate influential storytellers. Whether they lead green organizations or whole nations, their followers are listening.

Fists or handshakes, swords or pens, violence or nonviolence, the choices we make will be added to the stories we tell and pass on. The stories by green activist leaders will be the identity/ideology of their membership and any future course of action. Since the dawn of time stories have passed from generation to generation teaching lessons to build upon: stories written on walls in caves, bounded in leather books, or screamed through a megaphone. If the ultimate purpose of words (written or otherwise) is to better the future for coming generations, may nonviolent action be in every chapter.

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