Civil Non-violent Disobedience

This past weekend I spent time in training to recruit and lead Civil Non-violent Disobedience in the State of Colorado.  I am really excited for the opportunity to be part of a large group of American’s who are standing up to protect the future of our planet.  This type of activity, while not something new to the American scene; is something I have not participated in before.   For me, it’s a bit overwhelming to think that I will be joining the ranks of American Citizens who, because of conscience, chose to take a stand in a nonviolent fashion to stand up for injustices actively occurring on American soil.   Most Americans know the story of Rosa Parks, a woman of African descent, who sat on a bus in a seat in 1955 that she  wasn’t authorized to sit on because of the color of her skin.  Her story is part of the history of the Civil Rights Movement, a time period in American history where many took to the streets to participate in making a statement.  The focus was to bring focus to unjust laws in a way that was considered dignified, and worthy of media attention.

Fast forward 50 years.  The same media that represented the values of America as wholesome and pure, has changed the focal point  to one where active discussion of violence has become a part of daily life.  Instead of positive news stories about the good things people are doing in their lives – stories about the worst of humanity’s behaviors unto one another take precedence.  These stories are distractions which often do not include the ways in which private corporations, focusing on profit margins, continue to promote or participate in devastating actions upon our planet.   These actions range from maintaining unhealthy manufacturing processes that have increased our atmospheric CO2 levels to dangerous planetary levels,  to encouraging consumption patterns that are killing our oceans with plastic pollution.  Environmentally, humanity has been extremely careless about our methods of progress and have, in many ways, developed methods of extracting and utilizing natural resources that are permanently scarring our planet.

I mourn frequently for this one Earth that I get to live on.  I feel like people look at me like a lunatic as I take oil created plastic and move it from garbage cans to recycling bins.  People are often offended as I communicate with them their thoughtless methods of consumption, feeling no need to take ownership of the state of Planetary Affairs they are actively contributing to the destruction of.  This is why I took the Pledge of Resistance against the Keystone XL pipeline.  This pipeline is designed to take some of the dirtiest sand on our planet, know as Tar Sand, and convert it into a fluid product to be pumped across our nation as an international export.  The goal is to access this product in Canada, ship it across the United States, then refine it in Texas and export it to Asia – that is they want to export the excess product.  Truth is that Tar Sand gasoline is already being consumed in states like Colorado without much knowledge by the average consumer.
And this is why I went to the Action Leader training for these upcoming nonviolent resistance.   I am grateful these organizations: The other 98%, Rainforest Action Network, and Credo Action Network  banded together to provide a wide variety of training exercises to help prepare me to lead active resistance against the KXL Pipeline.  Please take some time to learn more about this important topic, sign the Pledge of Resistance and become one of the many that will tell President Obama that this isn’t the type of change we signed up for!

Why current petition trends aren’t working – 2013 example: Firearms background checks

So, I signed a petition online regarding the Keystone XL pipeline the other day because in general, I’m against the expansion of fossil fuel dependancy and growing environmental risks of man made pollution.   Since then I’ve recieved more than 10 different calls to speak up… and it got me thinking, this is turning into a joke.  How can I believe that there is value in 100 different organizations saying their members want something will be effective?  I mean if I say yes to 10 different petitions I’m still only 1 voice, will any of the 10 be more effective than the other?  Is it possible that they are hurting one another because they are not unified?

I just did a quick look on Google, to look at how many different petitions in the United States that  I could currently sign telling my congressional representatives to support Background checks for firearms purchasesI understand that this topic is a touchy one, everybody has an opinion one way or the other.  Regardless of your personal opinion, this blog is about the process of communicating with government in a way that effectively brings change on a unified front.  This, in my opinion, is the most important aspect of my rant today.

Here’s a list of websites I found: http://www.Change.org, http://americansforresponsiblesolutions.org/, http://www.signon.org, https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/, http://boldprogressives.org/, http://www.ipetitions.com, http://www.thepetitionsite.com, http://www.demandaction.org, http://www.pachurchesadvocacy.org, http://www.campaigns.dailykos.com, http://www.democrats.com, http://www.workthreat.com, http://www.forcechange.com, http://www.ryot.org, http://www.educationvotes.nea.org, http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org, http://www.newsericks.com, http://www.causes.com/putthegunsdown (I stopped at page 3 because news stories were filtering in). 

And yet the bill didn’t pass.  One might blame the National Rifle Association (NRA) for pushing advertizing that focused on American’s loosing their rights as Americans.  Regardless of your stance, the NRA did exactly what they were supposed to for their members, provide a singular unified voice representing the memberships interest.  There is no ‘hold on government’  that they have greater than any other organization in America.  What separates them they are is organized.  It’s the NRA – not the voice of fifteen or twenty different entities saying something close to what the other is saying, that spoke on a singular front.

What’s important about this?  Background checks for gun purchases have been a hot topic of late, and they are something that – to the obvious dismay of President Obama, did not pass our bureaucratic process to arrive on his desk for signature into law.  One of the biggest complaints from the president is that the majority of American’s supported this kind of change and yet the people’s representatives in each state placed their votes based on a unified last minute effort to these representatives. 

I propose that what the NRA did most effectively, is offer an opportunity for environmentalists to learn from the successes of others.  How many organizations can you name that teach about the environment, that speak about conservation and responsibility, about recycling and pollution?   I bet there are a bunch and I propose that each wants you to consider them an expert on the topic.  I can name over ten  Heck that’s what I want from you, to consider me an expect on the topic of plastics in our environment and how we create solutions.

Now tell me who your authorities on firearms are… and I just got you!  Of course, it’s the NRA, even if you hate guns or have never touched one the primary expert you will think of is singular!  Now maybe you are a firearms owner and maybe you have a local shop or friend to turn to, but for the majority of American’s the NRA is the unified umbrella expert.   The methodology: One petition, one voice, one direction – and it worked.  It’s been working, it continues to work.

What’s the point?  We environmentalists need a unified clearing house, a place where one topic, one  battle at a time we speak with one voice – an that single voice would be so loud, and so strong, that companies and elected officials would be required to take action, to listen, to become educated, and to become part of the change.  My recommendation, use the official government website and share the same petition among like minded groups!