The Need for Mass Mobilizations

A disturbing amount of the climate justice movement’s “action” is taken alone, within our own homes.  We sit at our computers and post, Tweet, comment and write op-eds.  We call our Senators and legislators. We change our light bulbs and insulate our homes (literally and figuratively.) The picture that naturally develops in our minds is of little me, sitting here fighting the world’s biggest corporations and their political stooges.  That’s a pretty discouraging picture.

Despite all the attempts of social media to build “community,” everyone is still sitting alone at computers. We did not evolve to develop powerful relationships with an avatar, sending us an instant message.  That’s why a million screen names out there somewhere don’t help us deeply internalize the truth that we are part of something large and powerful.  We evolved to connect with human beings that we can see, hear, smell and feel, and it is that kind of connection that empowers us on a deep level.

Many brilliant writers have commented on how our hyper-individualized society exacerbates our biggest problems.  In the case of the climate movement, hyper-individualism causes potential activists to feel alienated from the incredibly powerful force of a united movement.

The more I advocate for stronger and bolder action from climate activists, the more I see the need for real human connections.  No amount of social media can match the empowerment of being in the streets with thousands of other people who share our passion.  That’s why mass mobilizations that engage in bold action are so important for our movement.  There was probably never a more active time for our movement than the six months after the Capitol Climate Action. That motivation has since been drowned in online “activism” surrounding half-assed climate bills and Copenhagen.

One of the biggest hesitations that seem to stop people from taking strong political action to fight climate change is a lack of empowerment.  Nobody wants to put his or her ass on the line for something that won’t make any difference, and we all know that the actions of a lone, isolated individual seldom make much of a difference.

The Appalachia Rising mobilization in Washington DC at the end of this month comes at a time when we need it most. Appalachia Rising is a mass convergence on the capitol to fight mountain top removal mining from September 24-27th.  The first couple of days will be the Voices From the Mountains, where we will hear from those most impacted by mountain top removal, and strategize with movement leaders.  The final Day of Action will be a march on the White House, and civil disobedience by those who choose to participate.  The whole event will send the message to Washington that there will be major civil unrest, as long as corporations are allowed to blow up mountains, poison people’s water, and threaten our future.

As a native of West Virginia, I have many reasons to be passionate about defending my homeland from corporate exploitation, and there are many reasons why civil disobedience is powerful and effective.  Right now, I find myself most excited for an opportunity to once again feel the power of a united resistance movement.

The strategy of appeasement and compromise has thoroughly failed, and the discouragement of the climate movement is undeniable.  For years we have been told to kneel and beg, and it has left us empty-handed. Now it’s time to stand up and fight for our right to a healthy and just world.  Obedience to injustice is the ruin of the soul, and our movement desperately needs some rejuvenating disobedience.

Please join me in Washington this month for Appalachia Rising.  Don’t just write an op-ed or call your congressman in support.  SHOW UP.  Get on a bus, sleep on the floor of a church and take a stand with thousands of others who are no longer willing to be obedient to a destructive and unjust system.