The standoff at Standing Rock—where thousands of Native American men, women and children, along with many non-Native allies, are camping out to block the laying of a 1,170-mile pipeline to carry fossil fuels from North Dakota to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico—is more than just an isolated battle, the Sioux deciding they won’t allow their lands to be taken by force by the oil lords, and putting their bodies on the line to protect their land and water.
Standing Rock is one of those moments, like the Occupy Wall Street protests, that we will look back on as a tipping point in consciousness; a moment when the lines of battle in the war to keep our planet habitable for our children became visceral and unmistakable.
Just as in Occupy Wall Street, we are seeing militarized police and guards attacking ordinary people who have taken to the public sphere to protect their right to a livable future. The same tactics are being used: escalating the pressure with an overwhelming force of armored vehicles, sound grenades, tear gas, pepper spray, police batons, tasers and rubber bullets until the violence starts and the rounding up of peacefully protesting civilians can appear “justified.”
Law enforcement claims to be protecting public safety, but in fact they are acting as hired goons for the fossil fuel companies.
In a New Republic article this fall, Bill McKibben used the metaphor of World War III to describe the kind of all-out industrial effort that is needed now to shift our economy from running on fossil fuels to running on renewable energy sources like wind, solar, tidal, geothermal.
We need a Marshall Plan to ramp up and get the job done, McKibben declared.
Instead of hiring a few guys to lay pipelines and fight off anyone who dares to protest, we need to mobilize an army of people who are dedicated to developing, producing and distributing alternative energy systems, along with converting buildings, transportation networks, farms and factories to run clean.
Tar sands, fracked gas and deep-sea oil rigs, along with the pipelines, tankers and refineries that service them, are part of the dead-end 20th century vision that we must abandon if we are to find our way out of the frightening labyrinth of the present moment.
It’s no accident that the nascent Occupy Fossil Fuel movement is being led by Native people, not only because their land rights are once again being flagrantly violated, but also because they have never fully bought into the fossil-fuel-based plunder economy, the economy of short-term gain, maximizing profits, and to hell with the consequences.
The leaders at Standing Rock have created a movement based on prayer and reverence for the sacredness of Earth, and people of all backgrounds from all across the country have responded with a resounding YES!
While the mainstream media is showing once again its collusion with the Wall Street/fossil fuel barons that also control our government, by simply ignoring Standing Rock, social media has leapt into the breach, with citizen livestreams taking us right into the heart of the struggle.
You can’t support a movement you aren’t aware of, which must be what the mainstream media is up to in willfully blinding themselves and their readers to the significance of Standing Rock.
Like Occupy Wall Street, like Ferguson, Standing Rock is not going to go away. The more the police try to repress the protests, the more they will spread.
Because the simple truth is this: a majority of us want to leave a habitable planet for our children and grandchildren.
We want future-oriented solutions—re-localizing energy sources via solar and wind, not thousand-mile pipelines strangling our country and putting our waterways at risk.
We don’t want our hard-earned tax dollars to go for paying police to brutalize peaceful protestors at home, nor to support an endless military buildup to safeguard a corporate globalization that follows the same playbook worldwide of trashing local economies and environments.
Americans are not afraid of hard work. We relish challenge and delight in innovation. We have what it takes to head off climate change disaster.
In addition to supporting the Standing Rock protestors who are right now bravely occupying the front lines of the struggle for our shared future, we need to create our own Standing Rocks, our own front lines of resistance where we are.
The Marshall Plan of the climate change wars won’t be led by the Federal government. It will happen on the local level in towns and cities, as well as in global networks of like-minded people, like 350.org and the new Treesisters movement.
It will happen when enough of us have the courage to come together, as the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies have done, to say YES! to a livable future.