Shaping the Future


Thank you all for your kind words about our trip!  Back at home, it has been an adjustment to come home from the White House, back to our own daily lives. To participate in such a public, huge action, and then to return to our own, mostly private, mostly small gestures.  I won’t lie when I say that I spent a lot of time that first week back remembering all the speakers from Lafayette Park, and crying about the stories they told.  Stories about fresh oil still spilling in the Gulf, about having tires slashed and brake lines cut for the audacity to take videos of Transcanada’s pipeline spills, and also stories of hope and heart, of people coming together all over to protect what is sacred and belongs to all of us.


I’ve been listening to Pema Chodron’s lecture series Don’t Bite the Hook, which was amazing to have while processing such a strong experience.  We found out just a few days after we came back that Obama sent the Pipeline back to the State Dept. for a full independent review.  A victory, of sorts.  As a friend said, You got all of us another year of life!  But after one year, we will have to revisit this whole thing again, which makes me sad.  Saying, “Not right now” is not the same as saying, “No.”

I think what Ben and I both felt so strongly as we traveled to D.C., and after we came back, is that we are living in a time that is ripe for change.  In order to help shape that change, each of us has to be open to moving past our own personal actions (and our comfort zones), and willing to enter collective actions.  What is humbling and amazing to behold is how few of us it actually takes to make a difference, to start a rippling change.  1,200 people getting arrested at the White House can transform in just two months into 12,000 people surrounding the White House.  A few hundred people on Wall St can turn into thousands all around the globe, and into 700,000 Americans closing their accounts with big banks.  700,000 people is less than 1 % of the current US population (307 million) – but it’s big enough that the banks are starting to freak out.


I used to worry a lot about how to change people’s minds and spread information.  These days, I’m thinking more about the people who already agree that climate change is happening, that carbon emissions need to be stopped, that clean water must be protected, etc . . . I’m wondering how to bring all of us together and move together, beyond our own lives and into something bigger.  Pema Chodron once said that “the future is shaped by people who are not afraid of being uncomfortable. ” I see people all around me transforming their lives, even when it is uncomfortable or unpopular or downright hard, and it gives me tremendous heart and hope.  I was amazed most of all by the feeling of peace and joy when we gathered in DC for the protest.  It would have been easy to gather together in anger and outrage – but we joined hands in gratitude for each other and all that we could do.  I look forward to joining hands again, to singing, to sharing stories, to shaping the future.


4 Responses to “Shaping the Future”

  1. 1

    Awesome post! I really love Pema Chodron’s quote about the future…where is it from?

  2. 2
    Sue Powers

    That’s a compelling photo of you and Ella with the bears and the STOP sign. I don’t know if you are looking for more local publicity, but if so you might want to send it to the Gazette with the suggestion that they do something about local involvement with what is going on nationally. (They did something like that for the Occupy Wall Street effort.)

    I agree with your observation that a few people willing to speak up can start something much larger. Congratulations on being one of those willing to stand up early on – it takes courage.

  3. 3

    Thanks! I think I remember it from her excellent little book Practicing Peace in Times of War.

  4. 4

    Thank you Sue! I must say I’ve given up on traditional media – they weren’t interested when several Valley residents got arrested in Aug, and I doubt they’re interested now :) But thank you for the reminder!

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