I find that an intention which begins with a negative like ‘non-violent’ reduces its power. It seems to push me towards an energy of ‘being against’ rather than ‘for’ something. Here is my effort to replace it with a positive term.
Most of my campaigning is about the current breakdown of Earth’s ecosystems which for millennia have nurtured and maintained life, including human life. Now, the destruction of habitats and the pollution of the atmosphere, land and oceans is endangering many life-forms, ours included, and extinguishing some species at a rate not known since the time of the dinosaurs.
Why is this breakdown of stable systems occurring? I stand with Pope Francis’ analysis in Laudato si’ that ‘…. the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit.’ Ls 106
When I acknowledge the reality of what the economy is doing to the earth, I feel helpless, afraid and despairing. When I also acknowledge my complicity in this, I realise that I cannot begin to make a meaningful response without seeking the help of the Holy Spirit. My enemy images of those who promote this destruction, and of the politicians who seem to believe that they are helpless to regulate them, can begin to change if I see them as precious children of God: not easy to do but as Jesus said to the rich young man, ‘Everything is possible for God’.
These experiences and ideas lead me to seek the help of God and campaigning companions in transforming my use of the term Non-violent Direct Action towards Spirit-Guided Direct Action.
NVDA is a cornerstone of two groups to which I belong, Grandparents for a Safe Earth, a secular group, and Christian Climate Action. NVDA includes many actions which go beyond the conventional campaigning of letter-writing, meeting MPs, arranging talks and workshops, and others. We chose it because these other approaches were not bringing the essential changes required by the seriousness and urgency of the destruction referred to above. Our actions, some within the law and some not, attempt to witness to this destruction. Civil Disobedience calls for action which may break a law of the land by seeking to follow a moral or higher law. These two groups have done this on about 10 occasions, most of which have not led to our arrest; and only one to a trial which resulted in a fine and costs for criminal damage.
CCA actions always include prayer and aspects of Christian symbolism. Actions have ranged from kneeling down to pray in the middle of Downing Street on the day when David Cameron went to New York for the UN Climate Change talks; changing the name of the Department for Energy and Climate Change to the Department for Extreme Climate Change; and blocking a road in the Ffos y Fran open-cast coalmine to limit emissions by closing it down for a day. We prayed for employees to have work which nurtures the earth and took any opportunity to engage with them about our concerns.
When Jesus upended the tables of the money changers, he exposed abuses of the poor by ‘a den of thieves’. If he broke laws to expose the powers of his time, will his followers do something similar to limit the damage to God’s creation and trust that ‘the Holy Spirit will renew the face of the earth’?
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