As I’m trying to counteract the gloom and doom which pours out daily from our mainstream media by looking for the good news, I was pretty chuffed last week when I got involved with the Southend Extinction Rebellion group. And what a friendly, inspiring group they are!
I am wondering how you feel and what you think when the Extinction Rebellion protesters disrupting life in London hit the headlines? Do you feel like joining in? Or perhaps you’re annoyed that your trip to London has been disrupted? Are they being self-indulgent and having a jolly day out or are they to be congratulated for their courage in highlighting the threat of climate change?
Because I believe that climate change is a real threat not only to the distant future but to life on Earth in the here and now and because I believe financial interests are stopping the government from taking the action* which we so desperately need, I decided to go along to Oxford Circus to join the rebels last week.
Southend has a strong and determined ‘core group’ who are giving up much time and energy in working together to train, inform and organise anyone locally who is prepared to get involved in non-violent direct action.
Before my trip to Oxford Circus I was invited to a workshop where I was given lots of helpful information about our legal rights, how we should behave (non-violently!) and what would happen if we got arrested. Most helpful were the phone numbers of solicitors who specialise in protest law. Role play helped us to prepare for how to deal with angry people – motorists and those angry that they had been stopped from getting to work or going shopping.
I came away comforted that I was getting involved with a very well-organised, collaborative, dedicated group of people who are prepared to put time and energy into a cause in which they strongly believe.
My day with XR in London turned out to be everything I expected: Well-informed people spreading the word and encouraging each other. People handing out free food and drinks and taking round sun lotion. Lots of singing and clapping. Yoga and first aid tents. Inspirational speakers. Chatting with strangers who you immediately ‘clicked’ with. The chanting of ‘We love you’ and the shouting support when an arrest was made.
The day was fun, orderly and inspirational. Emma Thompson described it as an ‘island of sanity’ and how right she was.
This is just the beginning. The organisers are now waiting for the government to respond to their demands (see rebellion.earth/the-truth/demands) and if the demands are not met there are lots more very carefully-organised and orchestrated non-violent disruptive events in the pipeline. If you’d like to join with local people who are getting together to put pressure on our government to take action on this crucial problem you can contact Southend XR via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m reminded just how long it took for the government to control the sale of cigarettes years after science had shown the link between smoking and lung cancer. Such is the power of big business!