|We Don't Forsake Her [Tar Sands Action]
||[Sep. 5th, 2011|11:06 pm]
Saturday: I am waiting to be arrested at the Tar Sands sit-in, whose purpose is to pressure the Obama administration to reject an oil pipeline from the Canadian tar sands plants (think of a combination of mountaintop removal and fracking) to refineries in Texas. The pipeline would pass through the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water for people in eight states and irrigation water for a third of the irrigated land in the U.S.|
There's always a point in an action where the energy flags and I start wondering why in the world I got myself into this. The Tar Sands action is an old-style civil disobedience sit-in, with heavy emphasis on "civil" and on dignity, which suits my personality better than my politics. So I stand in the hot sun, guiltily happy to be bored rather than scared, but missing the giant puppets and outrageous costumes and anarchist youth and spiral dances of a carnival of resistance. Still, it's an impressive turn-out, particularly since it will be the first arrest for almost everyone I talk to. (243 are arrested Saturday, 1252 over the two weeks of the action.)
And standing there bored I get a drive-by mystical hit, the kind that comes in a flash and changes your perspective for a long time. The words for this one are "it's the second person /plural/" -- which is less inscrutable than it sounds. It's a reference to something a goddess had said to me a long time ago, in a period of great personal pain and despair: "You don't forsake me." Not a promise that /she/ won't forsake /me/ -- an observation that I don't forsake her, as if she'd turned to the back of the book to see how it turns out. The hit I get Saturday is that it's us: /we/ don't forsake her. Implicit in this mass of people waiting patiently to be arrested is a long chain stretching back to the beginning and forward to whatever the end of the book may be, made of heroes, yes, and martyrs, and also ordinary people like me and the others waiting here. We don't forsake her. Not now, not in the future. That's the message.
Does that chain include the entire human race? The cops counting out their plastic handcuffs too? The people who plan to profit from the pipeline too? Eventually? I don't know. I don't know.
The rest of the day: The women are arrested first, then the men; and within each (apparent) gender, the (apparently) old before the young. Lisa and others, many arrested on previous days, cheer us as we get photographed and put on paddy wagons and buses. I'm number 118, at 60 the youngest in my paddy wagon. The woman who fills out my ticket doesn't check off the "offense" box -- maybe they didn't bust me for "failing to obey a lawful order" but "improper refrigeration of food"? The folks filling out the tickets are annoyed with the folks who brought us in because we're not in numerical order; the man who fills out my receipt is annoyed with me because I put my hand on the table. Police are bureaucrats with guns, David Graeber says, and I think he's right.
Still, I hope they don't forsake her. When she looks at the end of the book, I hope she sees they don't forsake her.