We are in the midst of the 6th Great Extinction. And since it is the outcome of the 1st (and only) Great Anthropic Fossil Fuel Exploitation, many want to call our era the Anthropocene. Others prefer the more hopeful Ecozoic, honoring our potential to put to good use our ever-growing understanding of how marvelously interconnected and beautiful this World and its Universe is (link). And not only for the survival of our species, but for a grand transition to a flourishing, creative, sustainable, and grateful global human presence on Earth. Imagine a world of communities in which every single one of us feels widely welcome, and has the ease and security to celebrate it. I think quite a few of us believe it’s at least possible. So where’s the path?
Many British folks believe there is only one path at this point, and it’s the path of rebellion against the causes of the in-progress extinction. Open rebellion in large numbers. Not like the War of Independence or our Civil War; more like Gandhi and Rev. King’s strategic and courageous uses of civil disobedience. So they dubbed it the Extinction Rebellion(ER), getting right to the point. They are past “climate change actions”, “climate justice protests” and the like; the time for all that is past, they say. The Extinction Rebels say: if you know the truth of what is really happening, and are willing to hold it in your mind and heart while wanting what is good and right for those you love, for the Earth that nourishes us as well as for all the beings on this journey with us, then you will find a way to join us. And that of course we feel great sorrow, anger, and love in the face of the suffering and the work to be done. Then they act.
ER launched on Parliament Square in London, expecting a couple of hundred to turn out in support of their demand for Net Zero CO2 Emissions by 2025. About 1,500 showed up, and their ranks have grown rapidly, acting outside the laws within which there seem to be no acceptable answers. Blocking bridges, planting trees in streets, super-gluing themselves to banks and Buckingham Palace. These are everyday, hard working people, young and old; women and men; students and professors; chefs and scientists. They are organized, sincere, thoughtful. And now the Rebellion has jumped the pond: ER US.
Will a successful Rebellion take hold here? ER US voices the same demands, uses the same strategies as ER UK, but at a time when we are in the grip of civil struggles over ongoing racial inequities, growing gun violence, oppression of gender freedom, creation and then persecution of addicts, attacks on the very project of inclusive Democracy. And more. And we are not a compact island nation, but a sprawling, incredibly diverse and complicated nation. But consider this: aren’t all of these crises the outcomes of a civilization that was built on a foundation of male dominance, white supremacy, hyper individualism, and unrestrained exploitation of the natural world?
Growing numbers of us share the sense that we are living in a pivotal moment, and that only together can we steer a course of biospheric sanity, away from the cliff of extinction, toward a world that can flourish, support a grateful human presence. The knowledge, the maps, the tools to do it are all there. So let’s do it. Our children, the Future People, will thank us.
And yes, there’s an old British song about it, The Question: “Why do we never get and answer, When we’re knocking at the door, Because the Truth is hard to swallow, that’s what the War of Love is for.”
There are 49 ER chapters so far in the US. Maybe we can have a Rebellion of Love. It’s up to us.