Guest Green Issues article by Jodi Feist
The police officer spread his legs further apart to widen his stance, firmly rooted on the Southwark Bridge.
I broke into a mild cold sweat as I looked this musclebound man in the eye. As the other “arrestables” from our Extinction Rebellion Totnes group verbally start to justify our actions of physically blocking traffic of the five major London bridges, I stay quiet, realising that the officers wouldn’t care what our cause might be…they were simply doing their job as public servants.
I immediately feel the need to connect on a human level with them. I hear myself say to one “hey you look just like the actor from the US TV show Emergency Room.” He is quite attractive.
I tell him this rather loudly as his superior officer is shouting at us to vacate the bridge or be arrested. He looks at me surprised and then his eyes dart down to the pavement in apparent embarrassment. “I’ve never heard of that show ma’am.” For some reason his blossoming red face reassures me…..“yes you are human too, we are all the same – feeling beings.” He is just doing his job and I’m doing mine as a concerned citizen of this planet.
However, I really don’t want to be here. I’d much rather be home in Devon, on my 11 rolling green acres, with my huskies and beautiful daughters.
But we have lost 50% of our wildlife in the past 40 years which is causing a complete breakdown of biodiversity, upon which we rely to survive as a species.
I know that in order to leave a world behind for them and for their children, urgent action, unthinkable action, is needed now. We have had decades to change our environmental protection laws, and nothing has happened. The ones we trust, the ones we elect, authority figures, have let us down in the most detrimental way possible. The point of the sword, civil disobedience, needs to make its mark in order for the more moderate Earth centred organisations to start to penetrate the un-penetrable. Extinction Rebellion literally is the Trojan Horse for the world.
How I found myself on the front line in a protest with individuals I barely knew, joined in passionate dedication to protect life, boggled my mind. Three years ago I was happily shopping on Bond Street, attending cocktail parties thrown by my fellow Kensington jet setters, not too fussed by my consumerist, “all things disposable” ways. Yes I recycled, went to the odd charity event, I was doing my bit. But it was never enough to fill the seemingly bottomless pit of needing more. Numbing agents, always, were just a purchase or cocktail away.
The officer interrupts my train of thought. “I appreciate your peacefulness, but I’m going to have to take you in.” I expect to feel fear at these words but I feel nothing. I take courage in the fact that the police couldn’t possibly arrest the hundreds of others who had gathered behind our front line.
Had he known that only the front line, 8 of us, had volunteered to put our civil liberty on the line, then perhaps he might have had a different course of action. One by one, three of my newly made friends were taken away to the police van ominously waiting. I too was willing to go.
Quite frankly, given the latest findings of the IPCC and our limited time frame of 12 years to get things turned around or it’s the final curtain, I was surprised not more people were willing to stand up. What was more important than this? What good is it to concentrate on sending our children to school when there won’t be a habitable world left in which to live and work? This should be the priority of every family, every politician, every topic of conversation at work, school, and on the street!
So how had I ended up here? I had made a promise to Mother Earth during a shamanic initiation ceremony three and half years ago. She had been my best friend and had given me so much. What had I done to give back? Nothing! I had been the ultimate Amazon, Evian, Waitrose, Harvey Nick’s, meat eating, diesel guzzling consumer! She was just a resource to be used. Everybody around me was doing the same thing. What difference could I make? Over the next three years I discovered how powerful one individual could be. The power of one, of THE ONE.
A level of calm had descended upon the bridge after the arrests had been made. It appeared like the authorities had orders to stand guard but do little else. During a Rebellion “pause” in which all the music and voices were silenced in order to contemplate our love for the planet, I felt my heart split open and hot tears freely flowed down my face. I felt ashamed at the pain our species had caused all other lifeforms. We had lost our place in the circle of life as stewards, protectors of all that is. The sorrow in the air was tangible.
I left London that day knowing that I had been irrevocably changed. I had found true community for the first time, with others who felt as passionately as I about the greatest good of humanity and the planet. These people weren’t the radicals that I had expected, they were my neighbours…just concerned families.
I can now clearly see that each of the 7 billion+ who make up our species at some point, lost their connection with the land, with nature, with the nature of themselves. “Material Things” won’t heal this grievous trauma.
To connect with nature within, is to connect with the nature without. This is the key to happiness, love and compassion for all.
Please take action for all of us.