(See “Signs of the Times: 3 August 2016, No. 95” on the prayerandpolitiks.org site for additional background.)
by Ken Sehested
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.
Posted below are links to 5 “how to help” articles. (There is overlap in the first four.) I haven’t researched the veracity of these, but neither do I think there’s reason to suspect their recommendations. As with any such decision, using common sense is always required.
•“10 Ways You Can Help the Standing Rock Sioux Fight the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Jay Syrmopoulos, The Free Thought Project.com
•“How You Can Help Standing Rock Activists Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Rachael Prokop, Greenpeace
•“How You Can Support Standing Rock,” Thane Maxwell, Yes! magazine
•“How to Support NoDAPL,” Ea O Ka Aina
•“How to Contact the 17 Banks Funding the Dakota Access Pipeline.” Here are CEO names, emails, and phone numbers—because banks have choices when it comes to what projects they give loans to.”—Emily Fuller, YES! magazine
Basically the list of actions boil down to short-range and long-range needs. The short-term ones are things like:
•join the protest (at this point it looks like the organizers are still welcoming allies on the ground, particularly those willing to help with the massive logistical challenges like food preparation and cleaning of all sorts)
•contribute money (a variety of options are listed in the articles) or supplies
•advocate by communicating with public officials—the ones closest to the action, especially)
Long-range needs are diverse, and include things like:
•communicating with public officials who have the capacity to shape longer-term goals, like developing the infrastructure for alternative energy sources
•lobbying the financial institutions that support the various companies that work on constructing and managing the pipeline (and fossil fuel development in general)
•using all available media to communicate facts and perspective, everything from personal conversation to social media and mainstream media
The inspiring campaign at Standing Rock will be wasted if that inspiration, that energy is not funneled into a movement pressing for substantial long-term policy shifts, altered financial priorities and cultural renewal for the common good.
I would also add there are even longer-range needs. These include the entire spectrum of personal to public shift in awareness and policy options in the struggle for a healthy, sustainable and just world.
•I believe personal spiritual transformation is an ongoing need for us all, because the deepest roots of violence inflicting the world must be addressed in ourselves. (I subscribe to Caesar Chavez’s confession: “I am a violent man learning to be nonviolent.”)
•To be effective, the work of personal spiritual renewal must be done in community—however formal or informal, and in fact most of us are connected to more than one such community.
•To be actually transformative (there’s a whole lot that passes for spiritual transformation that are really disguised forms of narcissism and self-centeredness) the change involves linking with others to alter public consensus and public policy.
•Unfortunately, public advocacy is often too narrowly defined as influencing elected officials. Substantive change will be resisted, because there are people profiting from the status quo. Our politicians rarely pursue unpopular positions without sufficient support from their constituency.
•Such transformation must also involve deeper analysis—learning that peels back the lies we have been taught, learning “alternative” history, finding creative ways to listen to those voices not being heard, finding ways to bring to the table those currently excluded.
•Such transformation must be aware that the work is difficult; that it requires various forms of discipline (the word “discipline” is rooted in the word “learning”); that it requires perseverance; that it will likely, in one way or another, be risky and painful. (There is, as Jesus said, a kind of dying that must take place before living can begin.)
Finally, the key factor in deciding among the multitude of things you might do is discerning what on that list makes your heart leap up. No one can do everything; and sometimes we can only do one thing. Focus on doing that one thing well—then if you have extra time and energy, do another, and maybe another.
As the old saying goes, after all is said and done, there’s usually a lot more said than done. Focus on the doing, however small that may seem in the larger picture. You’re not in charge of the larger picture.
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The day after publishing the “Signs of the Times” column on this topic, I came across an article which is the single best, most concise overview of the issues involved:
•“Dakota Access pipeline: the who, what, and why of the Standing Rock protests,” Sam Levin, The Guardian