Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Are You Not Warriors?!

Governor Kitzhaber of Oregon has to make a decision about the Morrow Pacific Coal Terminal on April 1st.  It decides whether coal can be loaded onto giant barges and shipped down the Columbia River.  That means only one thing in our household: A protest.

I'm noticing the choice of wording from my son is becoming increasingly more militant
The Power Past Coal Coalition put together the Sound the Alarm Event.  Where people took to the streets to make a lot of noise with bells, harmonicas, drums and whistles.  We sounded the alarm on climate change in a rather obnoxious way.  It was quite fun, even if a bit over-the-top.

We chanted such nerdy renditions as "Lead, Arsenic, Mer-cur-y; keep your poisons off of me!" and "Pre-si-dent Obama, we don't want no cli-mate drama!"  and the ever popular "Hey, Hey! Ho, Ho! Dirty coal has got to go!"

But this wasn't like other protests we have been involved in before.  For this one, The Barracuda was asked to speak.  When members of the Sierra Club ask you to do a call to action address directed at the governor, it isn't polite to say no.

Photo Ops are becoming increasingly prevalent in this child's life.  Many organizations know him as the kid who talks about coal.  He keeps showing up; he keeps speaking out; and now he is beginning to get some serious press.  Two more speaking arrangements were booked before we left.

And so we pulled up every historical call-to-action speech I could think of.  We read them with the fervor of John Calvin in the living room quite a few times before Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death was decided to be the favorite and The Barracuda got to writing.  He'd never spoken to a crowd this size before, nor had he ever been in front of a group quite this exuberant carrying noise-makers.  For the first time, I actually saw him nervous.

When his name was called, he stoically walked up the steps, took the mic, and this is what he said:
We are all gathered here to let the governor know that Climate Change is a problem which must be stopped. It's hard to accept the truth when the lies were exactly what you wanted to hear. But Governor, this is the truth: our world is being destroyed.

If we do not stop it, the world will become a flat, barren island. Our precious river will become a highway for dirty, coal driven money at the expense of your children's quality of life. My quality of life. You have the power to stop this. You are the controller of this state. We have the power to wake you up, to sound the alarm, to let you know that this needs to stop.

They tell us we are weak; and unable to fight the power of the corporate greed. But, when shall we be stronger? Will it be tomorrow? Will it be next week, or in a few years? Will it be when the our sacred river is polluted to the point there are no more salmon? Will it be when the parts per million of carbon in the air is over 400? Will it be when all the coal is ripped off every mountain top and all oil is drug up from every pristine place beneath our feet?

This impacts us now. Not two years from now, not thirty years from now, but now. There is no time for us to wait. For in waiting we will have destroyed our home, our waters, and our Nation. We not really acting for the Gorge alone. We are acting for all of humanity.

We may be weak when separated, but united we are powerful. We may be quiet separated, but united we are forceful. How long are you going to let other people decide the future of your children? Are you not warriors? It is time to stop talking and start doing. Long ago when our ancestors rode into battle, they did not know what the outcome was going to be, but they did it because they knew it was in the best interest of the children and the people. Do not operate from a place of fear. Operate from a place of hope.The beauty of life is, while we cannot undo what is done, we can see it, understand it, learn from it and change.  So that every new moment is spent not in regret, guilt, fear or anger, but in wisdom, understanding, and love.  We cannot undo the damage that has already been done.  The past is gone.  But we an make a new future.

People frequently forget that my son is only just over 4 feet tall and cannot see over a podium or rest his notes on items normally at an adult's height.  He often has to hold a hand mic and try to make it work.  It is awkward, but he is working on it.  He often has to carry around a blue milk crate to put down and then climb up upon so that he can view his audience.  He often gets looks of "oh, isn't he cute" which quickly turn into looks of surprise as he begins his introduction.  This instance was no different.  If you would like to watch the terrible YouTube video I took, here it is.

(YouTube tells me it will be correctly oriented shortly.  If not, just wrench your neck to the side or close your eyes)

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