The East Gippsland Climate Action Network (EGCAN) recruitment and information drive have been pretty well received over the Friday’s that I’d been sitting outside Woolworths. I’ve had regular interactions with wonderfully supportive people who wanted to join EGCAN but there were the not so positive encounters too. It was invariably men who wanted to tell me a joke about Greta Thunberg; who wanted to tell me that Greta Thunberg was a selfish little bitch who didn’t care about starving children; who wanted to say that I was a victim of fraud; who told me to fuck off; who just muttered and shook their heads in disgust. Thankfully they were all manageable and in fact non-existent when my 50 something year old niece joined me one Friday. There was safety in numbers. But finally the council ranger put an end to my recruitment endeavour. I was told I needed a council permit and $10 million public liability insurance to hand out EGCAN climate change information.
In the last couple of months I’ve become involved with Extinction Rebellion (XR) a movement that has lifted my spirits and directed flagging creativity. It has given me hope. I closely identify with XR principles particularly that of nonviolence. The one issue that I struggle with is the issue of civil disobedience that causes inconvenience to people. Whilst sitting outside Woolworths, causes no inconvenience, it can certainly seem to ruffle some people’s day.
Inconvenience on the other hand, for people going about their work and their daily activities is more than a dent in the day. I know what inconvenience feels like, it’s rotten. It’s the train running late when you have an important meeting, it’s being forced to run late at the school pick up. It’s all those things that get in the way of your day and I’m really sorry. But I’ve run out of ideas. I listened to Nicki Hutley of Deloitte Access Economics on The Drum recently. She confidently assured viewers that there were many actions that could be taken that wouldn’t cause inconvenience for people going about their everyday lives. I’m inclined to write to Nikki Hutley to ask her just what actions she has in mind. Does she think that the closure of 600 schools in New South Wales constitutes inconvenience? And how does that inconvenience compare with the blockage of a few intersections in metropolitan Melbourne?
The problem as I see it is that nothing that I’ve done so far has had any impact or created a change at a government level sufficient to deal with the climate crisis. I lived off the grid, grown vegetables, have been an avid recycler, written letters, protested and chanted. Nothing has worked.* I’ve run out of ideas. Then along came extinction rebellion. A movement that had clear principles and for me the most compelling principle was one of non-violence.
*It is most difficult to ascertain the results of any our actions. But to paraphrase Gandhi “if we do nothing there will be no result” (ed).