Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Love and Fire: A Prayer for Keystone

(I carved this listening to Obama's 2009 Inauguration.)

The Keystone XL Pipeline is still hanging too close to reality. President Obama has said he will veto it if the bill lands on his desk—and it appears all to likely that it will—and while I do love the idea of a man who ran on hope and change providing a decisive, dramatic, and heroic act in the eleventh hour, I both do and don’t understand politics enough to hold my breath.

Besides, either way, we—the fighters for and livers of a life away from unquestioned fossil fuel dependence—have already won.

To be sure, Keystone has become a symbol as crucial to the climate movement as a keystone is in an archway. But the extraction of tar sands and their rickety conveyance through the hearts of three sovereign nations is not merely a symbol, which is precisely why this pipeline has proved to be such an effective rallying point.

And I fiercely want that oil to stay in the ground, in the tar sands and out of any pipes through anyone’s backyard and water supply. I want the carbon unreleased to the atmosphere and TransCanada to go bankrupt. I cry whenever there is news about Keystone’s lumbering progress through the State Department, the House, the Senate, now the House again. I cry equally when I hear more and more about popular resistance and public displays of most personal outrage at the threat of corporate profit and carbon pollution over all else.

But, again, regardless of how Keystone leaves Obama’s desk shortly, we’ve already won. A passionate and educated movement has been built. Keystone, lightning rod of debate and symbolic reality, has provided the time and space for legions of citizens to become aware of the climate change, and the role that fossil fuel industries and cooperative governing bodies play in this new devastation of the world.

Knowledge, friends, is power. However Keystone goes—and if I were a praying woman I would do so now; instead I write—we have learned and so are unquantifiably powerful. We have learned what is at stake, what the machinations are that try to stamp out the rebellious, undeniable truth that drives each of us in our separate ways. This kindling of love for our lives and landscapes, for a planet and the fire of outrage at all that threatens what we hold dearest, this is a force to be reckoned with.

We must hold that love and that fire. Keystone is one battle. The public and common sense opposition to the pipeline has been beautiful, but our future is larger than a single pipeline. This may well be a turning point in the fight towards the cleaner and kinder future we hunger for, but the day after the Keystone veto will still be one of the hottest for its date on record, glaciers will still melt, and corporations will still have more influence in politics than you or I, regardless of how loud we yell or deeply we love the earth. The day after, we must continue as we have, pushing and acting and growing towards the solutions we are finding as we go.

This outcome-neutral forward momentum is when we will need the love we have found in fighting Keystone. This is why and how we have already won, because through veto or passage, feast or famine, we have found the truth in our hearts and land and our strength to speak and live into what we believe.

And no outside force can ever change that.

(The love of this place is part of what drives me forward and keeps me going when fighting climate change.)

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