I’m not the kind of person that goes looking for a fight or a cause. Yes, I am a principled person and have been called “hippie” “tree-hugger” and “environmentalist,” plenty, but I don’t make a point of attending rallies or protests. Yesterday, however, I made my way to Vancouver to stand with thousands of other people that believe the tar sands and pipelines are the wrong choice- now and for the future. Together we stood in solidarity and cried “shame” on our leaders that are choosing greed over good. We listened as thoughtful and passionate speakers, many of them First Nations’ Elders (and one quite well spoke 11 year old!), spoke of the travesty being visited upon the land, and the devastation being wrought in their communities. One Elder said he would never forget something he recalled hearing as a child; “Fish to us is like bread to the white man.” What happens when oil kills the fish or when it makes the fish so carcinogenic they kill the people? Another Elder spoke of the dysfunctional disconnection some humans have (namely the proponents of the pipelines) with the land and the water, but that our movement will protect their kids along with our own. “We are doing this for our children and for Kinder Morgan’s children, so that they may have a spiritual connection with the water.”

It was a moving event. Indescribably potent was the shared sense of purpose in trying to prevent a colossally unjust and brutal assault on the systems that give us life and on the people that have called this place home for thousands of years.

Woman Mourning the Planet

I saw an elderly woman dressed all in black with a black veil over her head. On her cane, she had attached a sign: “I mourn for the planet.” A little while later I met my friends, Jane and Hugh with their perfectly beautiful new baby Audrey. It was one of those piercing moments when the truth that has quietly awakened inside erupts and paints the whole world real. The innocent newly born generation has arrived in the wake of a killing spree and is charged with making the funeral arrangements.  I am an eternal optimist (what’s the point of being anything else?), but I have dark moments when I think thoughts like these. I have moments of feeling so ashamed of my species, so appalled at the greedy ones, angry at the apathetic ones, and terrified for the little ones that I sometimes think we deserve to kill ourselves off.

But I take comfort in knowing that change is constant and the future always unfolds unpredictably. I find hope  in the notion of transformation. That by changing ourselves we change the world around us. We are part of a vast system, intimately tied to the wellbeing of the planet and to one another. Sometimes the immense size and complexity of the system makes it feel like it’s impossible for one person to make a difference, but I think it is quite the opposite. We are all connected, therefore we necessarily all make a difference. Each and everyone of us is working in and on the system. We are all in fact incredibly powerful, it’s often just in ways that are unseen and misunderstood.

That was apparent yesterday.  You could hear the power in the enlightened words of the speakers. You could feel the hope billowing over the crowd, with everyone absorbing it. I know everyone will be taking that feeling with them and sharing it with the people in their lives, inspiring others to take action as well. That is how it will spread.

Ben West said; “If I were Enbridge, I would be shaking in my boots right now.” I couldn’t agree more.