Saturday, July 30, 2011

This is what hope looks like

Read this moving final statement from environmental activist Tim DeChristopher to the court before he was sentenced to two years in prison for a creative protest he made in 2008 against the illegal sale of federal US land to fossil fuel interests. Rousing stuff. If you read to the end, you'll find why I thought of Archbishop Tutu.

If you're not familiar with DeChristopher's story, then you can get a summary here or much more detail here.

9 comments:

byron smith said...

DeChristopher's penalty (a cartoon).

Sam Norton said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. This is _exactly_ what we should be doing more of. Good for him.

byron smith said...

Couldn't agree more.

byron smith said...

DeChristopher writes a letter from prison. Very much worth reading.

byron smith said...

UPDATE: DeChristopher moved to solitary confinement for writing a letter (the letter (redacted)). This is very concerning, since the letter was basically a reflection upon his financial ethics, that it, whether he should accept money for his legal fund from a company he believed (possibly erroneously) to be mistreating its workers. Or rather, what he should do with the money that had already been accepted once he heard reports of mistreatment. As part of the letter he muses about the possibility of a campaign against this company (part of his democratic right to freedom of expression). An unnamed member of congress saw the letter and had DeChristopher moved into (pseudo-)solitary. This too is a disturbing possible breach of separation of powers.

A public outcry led by Rolling Stone and SumOfUs (amongst others) led to his return to minimum security within a day or two.

byron smith said...

Oops - it would be remiss not to mention Peaceful Uprising as the central support to DeChristopher.

byron smith said...

Tim DeChristopher: Activism is an act of faith.

"I define activism as the actions of those who lack authority through the traditional power structure yet still believe that they can shape the society around them. Because activists by definition are at a disadvantage to their opponents, the effectiveness of activism is based on activists’ interconnectedness. Those who believe in the notion of an isolated individual usually refer to activists as naïve. It’s ridiculous to think that one isolated individual could possibly change massive institutions like corporations or governments. By its very nature, activism is an act of faith in our fellow human beings. The greater the risk and sacrifice involved in the activism, the greater the faith required in each other. [...]

"activism is not only justified and effective, but also morally required. If every small act of defiance reverberates within the whole fabric, then the same must be true for every small act of obedience. Cowardice invites just as many imitators as courage. If we believe that taking a courageous stand for justice has a deep spiritual resonance throughout humanity, then we must accept that cowering in the face of injustice has an impact just as profound. Every time we choose convenience over principle, we strengthen the status quo and reinforce the existing power structure. Every time we choose comfort over justice, we help build those walls of oppression. This means that we hold some degree of responsibility for the injustice around us.

"Morally there are no sidelines in a struggle between oppressors and the oppressed. All that oppressors ask from the rest of us is to mind our own business, so by attempting neutrality we implicitly side with the oppressors. If we are truly an interconnected web, then we cannot simply blame the actions of the powerful for the injustice in our society; injustice is also the result of countless inactions by those with a responsibility to our fellow human beings."

byron smith said...

MoJo: DeChristopher barred from getting a job involving social justice while on parole because "that was what part of what his crime was". Incredible.

byron smith said...

YT: DeChristopher interviewed on Letterman.