Tantoo Cardinal in Ottawa

Tar Sands Action: Random Observations

(My 1st 2 posts on the Sept. 26th tar sands action in Ottawa are here & here – those posts have links to lotsa relevant sites/sources of more info on the tar sands project.)

So, drafted this on the bus on the way back to Toronto after the Monday events (a school bus, btw. Without the "deep pockets" of corporate types, we enviros have to do things on the cheap. We may be cheap, but we sure know how to have fun!! & as a very low-income person, I am grateful for the free bus ride!!!!)

Some random thoughts about the events of the Ottawa tar sands protest:

  1. I was/am super impressed by the fabulously well-coordinated civil disobedience training & overall event coordination of this event. Wonderful collaborative effort among different NGOs (non-governmental organizations) – all or most of the organizers young & wildly capable. Kudos to you all!!
  2. It takes a huge support team to pull off a happening like this! Tons & tons of work “behind the scenes.” So while the public sees 200 people willing to take part in this act of civil disobedience; they don’t see the HUGE amount of effort it took to put it all together. I’m so grateful to all the busy worker bees who pulled this off!!
  3. I was incredibly moved & inspired by the many aboriginal speakers who spoke so passionately & eloquently about the impacts of this horrid tar sands project on their land & their people. Nice to feel those emotions, that we 21st century folks have a tendency to suppress. Good Web source here on the tar sands’ impacts on our indigenous communities.
  4. Motherhood kept coming up! In a discussion about what to wear to the protest, someone said, “Wear something your Mom would approve of” & I thought “Yeah, & behave in a way your mother would be proud of, too.” And then at the rally on Parliament Hill, actress/activist Tantoo Cardinal, who was arrested in the Washington actions on the Keystone XL pipeline spoke of the Iroquois Confederacy, & the native tradition of having grandmothers choose the (male) leaders & placing children in the centre of the circle (& the centre of concern). Got goose bumps thinking of how the wisdom of women used to be honoured!
  5. Dysfunctional family imagery kept coming up for me. Human culture on the planet is something like a great big dysfunctional family. There is all kinds of nonsense going on. Someone has to call it, right?? & not everyone in the family feels real comfortable about that. Yet someone has to do it, or the whole family may be destroyed.
  6. The power of personal convictions…personal conscience. One of the police officers who arrested me commented “You folks sure have a lot of conviction.” Yup! (Norman Cousins said “Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his conscience, thus helping to bring the collective conscience to life.”)
  7. The naïvete (or perhaps wilful blindness??) of human beings regarding the shocking venality of our governments & corporations. We behave like children – & indeed, have to be taught not to submit to police bullying, & almost browbeaten into insisting on our right, for example, to remain silent. Innocence is touching (& I could go off on a tangent here about why I believe most human beings are indeed touchingly innocent – I'll save that for another day!). Innocence can also be reckless. Wilful blindness is not an admirable thing, I think…
  8. Ensemble imagery kept coming up for me, from the wonderful choir event I attended in Ottawa on the Saturday evening (several police choirs & the Ottawa Children’s & Canterbury High School Chamber Choirs) to all the activities during the non-violent civil disobedience training & the events on Sept. 26th on Parliament Hill.

Frederick Nietzsche said “Sin is that which separates,” which has long struck me as a profound insight. We human beings have become islands of me-me-me-ness, or, in the words of Sister Joan Chittister, “pathological individualism.” Members of choirs & teams (& activists) presumably “get” this – that we are meant to be members of ensembles, or tribes. Bees in a beehive, working together for the common good. These big “protests” or actions show us how we are meant to be. Check the ego at the door, & do one’s very best for the team (when we do our personal best in these situations, it’s really for the whole team.)

Sooooooo delighted to have taken part in this historic event…


p.s. a few good quotations about civil disobedience here