Category Archives: Future Hope

Stop Line 3! No New Fossil Fuel Projects! Climate Emergency!

The People Vs. Fossil Fuels actions this past week in Washington, DC—655 arrests!—brought back a lot of memories. In November of 1972 I was living in DC when the continent-wide Trail of Broken Treaties arrived there and took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs. I spent time outside the BIA building in the evenings in support. Then, several months later, after local activists and the American Indian Movement occupied buildings in Wounded Knee, SD on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and after a call went out for non-Indigenous people to come there in support, I did so. I stayed for two-plus weeks, helping to set up a support and communications office in Rapid City.

The leadership and visibility and inspiration and music and drumming and actions of Indigenous people from around what is now called the United States were such a very big deal this past week! To feel and experience this beating heart of resistance from peoples who have been under a terrible and wicked, life-draining siege for so long; to be moved by and dance to the sound of the drums; to be inspired by the deep, deep earth wisdom of Casey Camp Horinek; to be there able to respond and actively support the flag pole actions at the Army Corps of Engineers Tuesday afternoon; to be able to support the sit-in led by elders inside the Bureau of Indian Affairs/DOI building Thursday afternoon—these are experiences I will not forget.

Each day of the week began with well-organized actions at the White House. There were very big puppets and colorful banners and flags made by people who knew what they were doing, visuals to go along with the theatre of negotiated arrests by the police of the scores of people daily clogging the sidewalk right next to the White House fence. Throughout all this time each day of marching to and arriving at the White House, setting things up, being given three warnings by the police, and then the arrests, there were short, amplified presentations by frontline leaders of fights against new fossil fuel infrastructure all over the country–Alaska, New Mexico, Texas, Minnesota, Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana, Nebraska, California, Alabama, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York and more. There were passionate chants and singing.

Other dramatic actions took place Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

Tuesday’s was at the Army Corps of Engineers. The focus was on Line 3 in Minnesota. A million signatures on petitions was presented, calling for the Army Corps to step in, stop Line 3 and do a serious Environmental Impact Study. Indigenous speakers reported on the piercing of the water aquifers under the pipeline and numerous other violations by Enbridge, their overt attempts to cover it all up, their lies, and the spinelessness of the Army Corps in response. Then, after the stirring rally concluded and a giant round dance was taking place by the hundreds of people gathered there on the street, strong, nonviolent direct action was undertaken: two Indigenous activists, supported by others, began working their way up the two 35 foot or so flag poles flanking the front of the building. For close to two hours they were up there. An American flag was turned upside down, a distress signal, and pro-Indigenous sovereignty banners were held up by the activists clinging to the poles.

Recognizing the determination of and number of people willing to defend our climate warriors, the police never moved in to try to bring them down. Ultimately, they came down on their own, slipped away and the action ended.

The next day we went to the home of Jaime Pinckam, head of the Army Corps, an upper-income condominium complex across the river in Arlington, Va. Hundreds of us were loud and boisterous with chants and speeches calling him out for his dereliction of duty for all his neighbors to hear.

Then on Thursday Indigenous activists surprised the Bureau of Indian Affairs/Department of the Interior security with a lobby sit-in by 55 people, most of whom were arrested, some roughly.  They brought with them a list of demands, which included: Abolition of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Restoration of 110 million acres of land taken away from Native Nations, and Bring home our children buried at your residential schools.

Friday morning was the last day of action, a youth-led march from the White House to Congress. To the sound of the drums and Native songs, 90 people were arrested sitting in at an intersection a few blocks from the Capitol.

There was a great deal of press coverage of this week of action. White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Biden’s response to our demands at a nationally-televised, Thursday press conference. Her response, in effect, was that he is focused on getting Congress to pass Build Back Better legislation that includes action on climate. Perhaps, hopefully, and only because of continuing, unrelenting pressure, he and his administration and obstructionists in Congress like Manchin and Sinema will realize that, as was said throughout the week, that if you don’t respect us, expect us. There ain’t no power like the power of the people when organized peoples, joining together, don’t stop.


Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and president of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information, including about Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution, two books published by him in 2020 and 2021, can be found at https://tedglick.com. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.

This Is What a Strengthening Left Looks Like

It is a very, very big deal that last week the House Progressive Caucus, in alliance with almost all other House Democrats, defeated the effort by “moderates”—really, corporatists—to pass a problematic, Senate Democrats-and-some-Republicans infrastructure bill. Doing so would have made it very unlikely that the much more significant Build Back Better/reconciliation bill would have been passed. This is the one that addresses climate, child care, housing, education, health care and more.

For months there has been an open, public agreement among the White House and House and Senate leadership that both of these bills needed to pass together. It is that agreement that Manchin, Sinema and about 4% of the House Democrats have been trying to derail.

There is one reason, and one reason only, that they failed: the willingness of the Progressive Caucus to stand firm. Congresswoman Pramilla Jayapal, chair of that 100-person caucus, and others in PC leadership and The Squad didn’t waver in their position that if a vote was taken on that infrastructure bill, they would vote it down. And because they did, Biden ultimately got behind their position and reaffirmed that both of those bills must go forward together.

Hopefully, both of them will be passed this month. If it takes longer than that, so be it.

It is a very big deal that there is now a strong, organized, progressive force within the Democratic Party on Capitol Hill. How did all of this happen?

Here’s how I wrote about it my just-published book, 21st Century Revolution:*

“Over the last several years, a number of concrete developments have convinced me that, right now, our main focus should be to run strong progressives within the Democratic Party. What are those developments?

-the tactical decision of Independent Senator and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders in 2015 to run for President as a Democrat;

-the massive positive response to his campaign;

-the emergence of an on-going organization, Our Revolution, out of that campaign with organized groups in hundreds of localities;

-the Congressional victories via the Democratic Party route of very progressive people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Talib; and, last but not least,

-the very strong campaign of Bernie Sanders for President in 2019/2020, as well as Elizabeth Warren.”

It was all of these electoral developments that laid the basis for the victory the US American people won against the corporatists last week on Capitol Hill.

Without question, the grassroots progressive movement needs to keep focusing on Sinema, Manchin and the 10 House corporatists. They need to feel unrelenting, consistent, day after day pressure until we win this important federal legislative victory.

In addition, we need visible street heat! Fortunately, there’s a well-organized week of action in DC coming up next week focused on climate and environmental justice, the People Vs. Fossil Fuels week of action. Each day, Monday through Friday, hundreds of people will be risking arrest, at the White House Monday through Thursday and then at the Capitol on Friday in a youth-led action. It is a realistic possibility, depending upon how the police play it, that 1,000 or more people could be arrested next week. We will be calling for two things: that President Biden issue an executive order declaring a climate emergency, and that he move to stop approving fossil fuel projects and speed the end of the fossil fuel era.

There’s still time to sign up and make plans to take part in one or more of these days of action. Through determined action in the streets and relentless pressure on the suites, this fall can be a time of important, badly-needed victories. Let’s do it!

*21st Century Revolution: Through Higher Love, Racial Justice and Democratic Cooperation (pmpress.org)


Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and president of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information, including about Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution, two books published by him in 2020 and 2021, can be found at https://tedglick.com. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.

October 11-15 in DC: It’s History Making Time

We are now in a hugely consequential season when it comes to ending the dominance of the polluting fossil fuel industry and shifting urgently to clean and renewable energy sources like wind and solar. And by this season, I mean this autumn, the months of September, October and November.

What ends up happening with the US Congress as far as the climate and other provisions in the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill is huge. Strong legislative action must be taken now!

What happens in November at the 26th annual United Nations Climate Conference is also huge. We don’t have another year to waste with lip service and minimal action—minimal when compared to what the world is already experiencing as far as extreme weather events—from the world’s most powerful governments. The US absolutely needs to be exemplary when it comes to climate action ambition and concrete steps.

What could send a strong and clear signal to the world that the US is serious about this emergency? One would be for President Biden to actually sign an executive order declaring a climate emergency. And using that declaration as the basis, he should then announce that this year, following the call for such action by the International Energy Agency, he is instructing his agencies to stop approving any new fossil fuel infrastructure.

No new oil and gas pipelines. No new gas compressor stations to push gas through the pipelines. No new Liquified Natural Gas export terminals. No new gas or oil storage terminals. No more saying one thing and then letting just the opposite happen.

Are these realistic demands? From the standpoint of the climate emergency, absolutely. From the standpoint of the IEA (!), already done. From the standpoint of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose August report declared a “code red for humanity,” yes.

They are realistic if there’s enough political pressure from below right now.

That is why thousands of people are planning to descend on Washington, DC three weeks from now to take part in organized, nonviolent direct action at the White House the 11th-14th and Congress on the 15th. In the words of a letter to Biden from frontline activists around the country, “President Biden, in light of the upcoming COP26 United Nations climate summit, you cannot claim to be a climate leader when you are supporting fossil fuels. Stand with frontline communities, stand with future generations, stop approving fossil fuel projects, declare a climate emergency now.”

Their statement concludes with these wise words:

“If you have ever marched, rallied, called your representatives, lobbied, signed petitions to urge governmental leaders to act—we call on you to take the next step. Nonviolent civil disobedience is a time-tested tactic for change. Every movement for change, from suffragists to the Civil Rights movement, has proven that the defining moments are those where people are willing to risk arrest.

“If we all come together, put our bodies on the line in the name of climate justice, we may be able to change the course of history. Please consider joining us on October 11-15 for one day, for the entire week, or for whatever time you can offer.

“In solidarity for the protection of Mother Earth and the next seven generations of life.”

https://peoplevsfossilfuels.org – that’s where you can find out more, find answers to your questions, and sign up.

It’s time, right now, for us to rise to the call of history.

Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and president of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information, including about Burglar for Peace and 21st Century Revolution, two books published by him in 2020 and 2021, can be found at https://tedglick.com. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jtglick.

21st Century Revolution

Over the past few years I’ve put together a book with the name, 21st Century Revolution: Through Higher Love, Racial Justice and Democratic Cooperation. I am very pleased to announce that it has been published and is now available to get and read!

This makes two books published over the last 15 months that, over the last five years, I have conceptualized, researched and written. Prior to last year’s first book, Burglar for Peace, I had written and had published two books over my first 70 years. As I had hoped, retirement from a paying job in 2015 gave me time and space to do more writing, part of my retirement plan. It’s nice when things work out, which doesn’t always happen!

What is this book about? Here’s some of what I say in a publisher’s description:

“21st Century Revolution was written based upon my 53 years of continuous involvement in the movement for fundamental, justice grounded, political, social, economic and cultural change–revolution. I was driven to write it because of deep concern about the systemic threats to the possibility of a decent life for future generations, particularly the climate emergency and related environmental threats, the rise of a neo-fascist threat in the USA and elsewhere, and the widening gulf of economic/racial inequality.

“21st Century Revolution was written to encourage those who consider themselves part of the movement for systemic change to consider a mix of issues and history that I believe are essential to the prospect of eventual success in our collective revolutionary project. My personal history, which includes not just decades of political activism and organizing but also in-and-out relationships with and study of religion and spirituality, has given me a vantage point which I have seen be of value to others.

“21st Century Revolution explores the issue of the relation between the socialist project since the Communist Manifesto in 1848 and organized religion, primarily Christianity. Within that context it addresses the questions, does “God” exist, and does it matter, as far as the historical project of positive revolutionary change. It analyzes the major social, economic and cultural changes which began to take place approximately 10,000 years ago in Europe, Asia and North Africa as humans in those areas, after hundreds of thousands of years as hunter-gatherers, evolved into settled, agriculture-based societies. This change led to an historic shift from men-and-women run, predominantly peaceful partnership societies to male-dominated, militaristic and class societies. It puts forward and explains the importance of a wide range of necessary cultural changes in present-day society, including within the political Left, if the human race is going to be able to avoid worldwide societal breakdown because of an intensifying climate and ecological crisis. It describes what I see as seven distinct classes in U.S. society, as a contribution toward understanding the potentials, or lack of them, of each class to help make that revolution. It concludes with an articulation of and explanation in support of ten aspects of a winning strategy for revolutionary change in the 21st century which I consider to be both necessary and already taking place.”

I conclude the introduction to the book with these words: “I pray that this book will contribute to a 21st century revolution, one based upon higher love, a deep and unshakeable commitment to the centrality of racial justice, and a democratic and cooperative politics and culture that by force of example literally changes the world. It must. We really must.”

At this site, you can see short statements made about 21st Century Revolution by these progressive leaders: Medea Benjamin, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Dr. Ron Daniels, Max Elbaum, Bill Fletcher, Jr., L. George Friday, Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, Matt Smith, Andres Torres, Melinda Tuhus and Joe Uehlein. I appreciate that these long distance runners in the struggle for justice took the time to read and comment. Thank you to all!

Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and President of 350NJ-Rockland. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

Voting Rights Now!

It was hot and humid in DC on Saturday, and I was thoroughly drenched with sweat by the time the March On For Voting Rights arrived in front of the US Capitol. Soon after, the three-hour rally began, with almost all of the thousands there listening from the shelter of the tree shaded grass on either side of the National Mall.

For me, the high point of the program was the consecutive speeches toward the end by 13 year old Yolanda Renee King, Andrea Waters King and Martin Luther King III, respectively a granddaughter, daughter-in-law and son of Martin Luther King, Jr. All were good, substantive, and the fact that they are a family living and working very much in Dr. King’s spirit was personally moving. My life as an activist and organizer literally began on the day he was killed in 1968, so to see and hear his family descendants speaking out so clear and strong was no small thing.

Somewhere in the course of this long, hot day, leaving Newark, NJ on the People’s Organization for Progress (POP) bus at 4 am and getting back about 9 pm, my thinking and feelings about the importance of voting rights shifted. In a way I didn’t before the DC rally, I now feel much more strongly the urgency of the effort to get the US Senate to pass voting rights legislation now.

I’m afraid that too many of us who haven’t directly experienced voter suppression—white people—look upon the right to vote too intellectually, and not from the heart. Of course we support it, we’re democrats. Of course we support it, democracy requires it. If we didn’t support everyone who is eligible to vote being able to do so, it would go against our core beliefs.

Listening to the speakers and feeling the predominantly Black folks around me at the pre-march rally and during the march, it wasn’t the same. For African Americans it is literally a matter of life and death, grounded in centuries of slavery and Jim Crow segregation and institutionalized racism, underlined by today’s out-in-the-open efforts by Republican white supremacists in state legislatures around the country to hijack elections via voter suppression.

Voter suppression has practical results for all people. It could mean the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. It means the entrenchment of the power of the fossil fuel industry at a time when their hold over Washington and other politicians means escalating droughts, fires, major storms, floods and massive human and ecological damage. It means continued and even stepped up mass incarceration of mainly Black and Brown people. It means cutbacks in funds for housing, health care and education. The list is long.

As it turned out, I carried a big POP sign all throughout the march which said, “Stop the Filibuster.” It was a popular sign; lots of people kept coming up to take a picture of it. I was glad to carry it, and as I did so and then heard speakers talking about the need to end the filibuster, at the very least for voting rights related legislation, it became clear how essential this is in 2021. The only way to get something like the John Lewis Voting Rights Act passed is for all 50 Democratic Senators to vote for it and VP Harris to provide the winning vote.

The last speaker at the Capitol Rally, Rev. Al Sharpton, talked about the filibuster. He said we needed a bunch of “filibuster-busters.” He said, “maybe we need to pitch our tents on the Mall.”

Let’s all defend the right to vote this fall, by any and every means necessary!

Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

Covid Denial on the Left

The Delta variant of Covid-19, combined with regrettable anti-vaccine sentiment, has dramatically escalated the number of covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the US and around the world.  The overwhelming majority in the US, over 99% in one scientific study, of those hospitalized and dying are those who have not been vaccinated. And unfortunately, there continue to be progressives who deny the importance of the vaccine to the goal of ultimately suppressing, if not defeating, the virus. They are covid deniers.

It’s difficult to be patient with covid deniers I know who have spent years of their lives advocating and working for a very different world, a much better one, than the corporate-dominated one we are living in today. On this issue, despite the 620,000 deaths in the US and over 4.2 million deaths in the world caused by it so far, with more to come, they act and speak as if those deaths and the massive suffering caused by the virus are essentially the result of a conspiracy.

It is particularly outrageous when people like Gary Null and Robert Kennedy actively encourage people to distrust the vaccine, the vaccine that is THE reason the number of deaths per day in the USA went from over 3,000 in December of 2020 to a few hundred as of this June once the vaccine was widely available and incompetent Trump was replaced by a Biden administration that took this pandemic seriously.

Most of those not getting the vaccine are Trump supporters. A much smaller percentage are people on the Left. From what I’ve read and experienced, some of that second group are people whose general distrust of government and corporations, like Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, underlie their vaccine reluctance.

I agree with those within this group who say that it isn’t enough to wear a mask and social distance and get a vaccine, that it’s also important that people have a healthy diet and exercise, take better care of themselves and their families. I’m critical of Dr. Fauci and Dr. Gupta and other famous medical experts on TV who rarely if ever mention this. Indeed, if they did, this could be a silver lining of covid if many more people made these changes.

And the unwillingness of the pharmaceutical companies to make available the information and the knowledge needed to manufacture the vaccine in other countries is shameful. They should be publicly criticized for their inhuman corporate greed.

But these criticisms can’t be used to discourage vaccination.

I’ve had lots of experience over my years as a progressive activist dealing with people and organizations who put ideology over facts, who refuse to accept the truth, find ways to stick to their opinions even when reality has shown them to be wrong. It’s a very human problem, with deep historical roots. It’s a big problem.

Saying that the vaccine is part of a corporate conspiracy—saying that there’s no need to take the vaccine if you just eat well, take care of yourself and take vitamin supplements—inflating the tiny percentage of cases, much less than 1%, where vaccinated people have been hospitalized or died from the Delta variant—these and other lies and distortions of the truth should not just be dismissed; they should be confronted.

This is not the time for silence. It’s time to stand up against those on the right and those on the left who are sometimes uninformed, sometimes confused, and sometimes—and these are the worst—actively trying to sabotage the efforts to beat the virus through mass vaccination.

Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

Doom to the MVP Pipeline

Two days ago 100 dedicated climate justice activists, most of them young people, descended upon a site near Roanoke, Va. where the fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline is being built. We arrived there a little before 6:30 am, before the workers had arrived and several hours after we had left our action camp. We had gotten up at 2 am to make this action happen.

The action was a huge success, in many ways. The objective was to shut down the worksite for the day, and that happened! It happened most directly because 10 courageous climate warriors locked themselves both to pipeline construction vehicles and to massive, beautiful, wooden structures created by members of Appalachians Against Pipelines, the organizer of the action. It took until late afternoon for all of the climate warriors to be extracted by the police.

I took a bus from DC organized by Arm in Arm to and from the action camp in West Virginia. On the way back, in the evaluation of the action, someone commented on how near-miraculous the action was, all of the details which had to work together just so for it to be a success: 100-plus people from lots of different places coming together, learning about the plan, fitting in where they wanted to or where it was needed, practicing how we were going to get onto the site, and then in the early morning making it happen.

My thinking as to how this could happen is that one of, if not the, most important reasons was the inclusive and respectful culture which Appalachians Against Pipelines created there on the property where we were getting organized. That respectful culture, combined with our common goal of an effective disruption of pipeline-building business as usual, made for an excellent, powerful action.

In the info packet distributed to participants at the camp, a “Shared Agreements” section succinctly put forward shared values. Here is some of that section:

“How we treat each other:

“We treat each other with respect and compassion.

“We use active listening and ‘I’ statements to the best of our ability when communicating. We strive to be aware of the ways in which we are taking up space, and try to ensure we make enough spaces for voices that aren’t being heard in our environment.

“We respect a diversity of experience. We explicitly and enthusiastically welcome people new to the movement.

“We ask people to commit to questioning their privilege and to be open to being challenged. When someone challenges us to expand our understanding or shares that we have hurt them, we recognize this as an act of love, appreciate their vulnerability, and immediately make listening our top priority.

“We recognize that we are human, we make mistakes, misjudgments and missteps, therefore we seek to avoid humiliating exposure when issues arise. We try not to ‘call out’ with blaming or shaming but instead ‘call in’ with compassion, prioritizing our collective growth and understanding.

“We will not perpetrate violence against each other. This includes emotional, psychological and spiritual violence as well as physical violence.

“We will refrain from engaging in culturally appropriative practices. Do not bring objects or symbols, engage in acts, or wear clothing or hairstyles that are sacred or significant to a culture other than your own.”

The importance of these kind of values, this kind of movement culture, in all of our work of world-changing cannot be overstated. There is a very, very long history among people on the Left of disagreements and differences leading to intense divisions leading to the downfall, downsizing or dismantling of movements and organizations, as people who joined full of hope and energy get demoralized and leave.

This cannot happen to any significant degree with today’s people’s movement! We must change the world because the alternative is a world whose ecological, social and economic systems will be severely disrupted for a very long time, with great human misery, especially for people of color and low-wealth people.

History has shown us that we will not change the world if we, the change agents, do not change ourselves and others. As the late Fr. Paul Mayer has written, “What history is calling for is nothing less than the creation of a new human being. We must literally reinvent ourselves through the alchemy of the Spirit or perish. We are being divinely summoned to climb another rung on the evolutionary ladder, to another level of human consciousness.”


Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

Keeping the Faith

July 21st was the 42nd anniversary of my and my wife Jane Califf’s 1979 wedding. 20 years later, in 1999, we had a 20th anniversary gathering in our backyard in northern New Jersey with about 50 of our closest friends and relations. We filmed that event, and last evening, for the first time in 22 years, we watched it.

We were all eyes and ears as the video showed the circle of participants. About a quarter of those present then are no longer alive. Everyone else, of course, was 22 years younger, some of whom, today, are having their significant life and medical issues. It was a startling reminder of the reality of mortality all of us must deal with.

In the video Jane and I re-read the vows we had taken 20 years before, and last evening we felt like we had done a pretty good job sticking to them. In the video we also each reflected out loud with our 20th anniversary thoughts and feelings, there together with those we considered part of our extended family, whether by blood or otherwise.

One of the things I spoke about was the importance of connections—connections to family and friends, connections to the natural world, connections to those who have come before us, and connections to those coming after us. I said that our marriage was able to survive and deepen in large part because Jane and I consciously worked at maintaining all of those connections over the years.

In 1997, a couple years before this 20th wedding anniversary event, I wrote a poem about connections, Our Awesome Task. These were the concluding verses:

“Where do we look for strength in times like these–hard times, struggling times, fighting-seemingly-insurmountable-odds times?

“To one another, as we learn the “to” (one another) and not the “on” that has been
our history on the Left, within the union structures, in our other organized efforts–the competition, the pettiness, the backstabbing, the dishonesty–a history that must be, and fortunately is, being transcended.

“Some find strength in spiritual traditions, even rituals, connecting us to one another, to those before, to the natural world.

“Some love and meditate on “God”–Truth, Justice, Compassion–(“And what does God require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”) —with all their heart and soul, and their neighbors as themselves, fulfilling Humankind’s Greatest Commandment.

“Some gather children, grandchildren, neighbor children, friends’ children, students
around them–‘and the little children shall lead them.’

“And some of us just muddle along, doing the best we can, learning from history,
understanding the historical truth, the law of physics, that for every action there is a reaction–that oppression breeds resistance–that, as Dr. King said, “The arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

“Accepting–we have no choice!–our limitations, our limited power right now, while never accepting injustice and evil, the evil system we must transform;

“Using our anger, our outrage, our humanity, our love, burning like a low flame, a pilot light, flaring up as necessary into a burning torch to lead others into a future, a future world, we must, we have to, claim and win.”

The poem articulates a macro overview of ways that we can keep the faith and keep going despite all the many obstacles we encounter. But, ultimately, keeping the faith requires each of us to develop specific daily or weekly ways to keep the higher purposes, Higher Love, foremost in our consciousness.

Howard Thurman, an African American minister who was active in the 60s Black Freedom Movement and a close friend of Martin Luther King, Jr., has written very perceptively and non-religiously about this way to “regain perspective:”

“The restlessness of our age, the churning tumult of our times, the quiet frustrations and the riotous frustrations in the midst of which we live, all these surround us in the quietness, and yet we recognize the privilege of unhurried contemplation, of laying ourselves bare to the searching processes of singleness of mind, the privilege of becoming aware of needs of which we are scarcely conscious in our fevered rush, the privilege of hearing voices that need not speak above a whisper in our hearts, pointing us to the way that we should take in the midst of our own problems and responsibilities, our own hopes, and our own fears. The time of regaining of quiet. The time of searching of heart. The time of regaining of perspective. The time of lifting of hopes about ourselves and the world. The time of insight. The time of the renewal of courage.” 
            -Howard Thurman, Sermons on the Parables **

In this “churning tumult of our times,” we must daily strive to let our inner light shine, an inner light kept alive not by accident but by conscious intention, in whatever ways we each determine to do so.

**Sermons on the Parables, edited by David B Gowler and Kipton E. Jensen, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, p. 5


Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

Sabotage?

“How to Blow Up a Pipeline” is a book written by a Swedish climate activist and writer, Andres Malm. It was published earlier this year by Verso. A friend who read my Burglar for Peace book and knew about my belief in strategic nonviolent direct action recommended it to me.

The book is a call for greater seriousness in action by those of us who get it on how urgent the climate emergency is. By greater seriousness, Malm means one thing: sabotage.

I have some experience with what could be called “sabotage.” In the winter of 1972 I spent weeks working with a team casing an AMF factory in York, Pa. that made bomb casings for seeing-eye bombs to be dropped in Indochina. In late March several of us entered a railroad box car loaded with hundreds of these casings and proceeded to use a powerful bolt cutter to make a gash in the threads at the top, permanently putting these planned bombs out of commission.

The action happened right at the beginning of the trial of the Harrisburg 7, indicted for a supposed conspiracy to kidnap Henry Kissinger and blow up heating tunnels under Washington, D.C. I was the eighth defendant indicted but I was severed from the trial of the other seven right before trial because I insisted on my right to defend myself.

There was no plan to kidnap anyone or blow up anything, though Phil Berrigan, Catholic priest and founder and leader of this ultra-resistance network, had given serious thought to the idea of shutting down government buildings on a winter day by puncturing steam pipes providing heat to government buildings. After consideration and some exploration, the idea was dropped in part because of concern that if the action was successful and steam was released, it could burn or kill homeless people who slept on the warm grates.

This sabotage idea, and the actual sabotage action in York, were undertaken by activists in the Catholic Left. For years a series of raids on draft boards, war corporation offices and FBI offices did both political damage and, in the case of the hundreds of thousands of draft files destroyed, practical damage to the government’s war machine. I was part of all of this for about three years, including 11 months in prison.

Malm’s book brought back these memories. I thoroughly identify with his feeling that the climate emergency is so serious and the response of the world’s governments so weak, given the continued growth in greenhouse gas emissions and the very serious threat it poses to human society, that some of us need to consider much stronger action. Like what? Here’s what Malm writes at one point:

“So here is what this movement of millions should do, for a start. . . Damage and destroy new CO2-emitting devices. Put them out of commission, pick them apart, demolish them, burn them, blow them up. Let the capitalists who keep investing in the fire know that their properties will be trashed. If we can’t get a prohibition [of all new CO2-emitting devices], we can impose a de facto one with our bodies and any other means necessary.” (p. 67)

Elsewhere Malm writes approvingly of stone throwing and “revolutionary violence as an integral component.” He reviews the history of pipeline sabotage in various popular struggles against repressive governments. He attacks pacifism on strategic grounds and writes of the fact that mass struggles for major change often involve use of both nonviolence and people who are armed or who take violent action. He writes of focusing property destruction on the property of the rich, on “luxury emissions.” He tells about being involved years ago in organized vandalizing of SUV cars in rich neighborhoods.

And yet, he then seems to have second thoughts.

He writes that “strict selectivity would need to be observed. There was a randomness to the property destruction undertaken by the suffragettes [in England in the 1910’s], which wouldn’t do now.” (p. 69) We need to recognize, he says, that “it will be states that ram through the transition or no one will. . . [With] “a Green New Deal or some similar policy package, property destruction would appear superfluous to many.” (p. 118)

And violence carries political risks: “In the eyes of the public, in the early twentieth-first century and particularly in the global North, property destruction does tend to come off as violent.” (p. 101) “Because of the magnitude of the stakes in the climate crisis, negative effects could be unusually ruinous here.” (p. 121)

He spends a number of pages addressing the issue of property destruction as it compares to tactics which can hurt or kill people. He gets it that there is a difference.

Back during the Vietnam War, those who initiated the Catholic Left actions to destroy draft files—doing so in ways that insured the only people who might get hurt would be those doing the actions, no one else—experienced criticism from more than a few people in the peace movement. There was concern that such actions would help the government paint the movement as violent.

Over time, however, as participants in the first actions openly revealed their identity, explained why they were moved to risk years in prison, and argued that destroying pieces of paper sending young men to Vietnam to kill and die was in no way violence, the political dynamics in the country changed. By 1972, people arrested inside the Camden, NJ federal building about to break into draft boards were acquitted of all felony charges by a jury.

As far as I know, there has been one major act of property destruction related to climate in the US. In 2016 and 2017 two young women, Jessica Reznicek and Ruby Montoya, members of the Des Moines, Ia. Catholic Worker movement, burned pieces of heavy equipment at construction sites of the Dakota Access Pipeline. They eventually decided to make themselves known so that they could explain why they did what they did. Malm quotes them saying, “We are speaking publicly to empower others to act boldly, with purity of heart, to dismantle the infrastructure which deny us our rights to water, land and liberty. We never at all threatened human life. Nothing was ever done by Ruby or me outside of peaceful, deliberate and steady loving hands.” (p. 98)

Three weeks ago Reznicek was sentenced to eight years in prison, and Montoya will be sentenced at the end of this month.

50+ years ago I don’t remember once talking with others in the Catholic Left about “sabotage.” I think I know why. Those older and wiser leaders of this wing of the peace movement, like Phil and Dan Berrigan, wanted to keep the focus of what we were doing on the WHY, on the war victims, the draft-age young men, the threat of wider and wider war. I am sure that they felt that to talk or write about what we were doing as “sabotage” was, in essence, playing into the hands of our militaristic and imperialist enemies.

Ultimately, it is not the words we use but the actions we take which are important: actions appropriate to the urgency of our situation—actions which do not lead to serious injury or death of others—actions which cannot be painted as mindless, reckless violence—actions which educate and motivate others, build the movement—and ultimately, actions which help to build so much political pressure on government leaders that they finally must do the right thing.

As Albert Camus said, “Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”


Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.

Walking and rocking for a fossil fuel free world

When the planning began, four or so months ago, for what became a nine-day, 175 mile, 2021 Walk For Our Grandchildren that ended two days ago, the pandemic was still strong. It was weakening, as the Biden Administration from day one made its defeat its top priority, but up until a month or so ago the first thing we talked about on our weekly Walk planning calls was the pandemic and if we should keep moving forward, or adjusting, our planning.

Biden and his administration deserve credit for their leadership on this huge issue. But when it comes to the existential issue of the deepening climate emergency, it’s a different story. And that is why from June 20 to June 28, from Scranton, Pa. to Wilmington, De., from Biden’s birthplace to his current home, a core group of about 20 people, most but not all grandparents, walked, rode, met with local activists, rallied, picketed, demonstrated and, on the last day in downtown Wilmington, in front of a major Chase Bank corporate headquarters, blocked a major intersection by sitting in 10 rocking chairs, leading to 15 arrests.

200 or more people took part in one or more of the 18 different events over these nine days. 70 organizations supported it, many of them frontline groups fighting fracking and proposed new fossil fuel infrastructure. A highlight of the press coverage we received was in Scranton, where good stories were aired by three local TV stations, and two consecutive days of coverage was given to us by the major local daily newspaper. Two TV networks came to our Independence Hall rally in Philadelphia. A daily Wilmington area paper carried a good story on the civil disobedience action in front of Chase.

All along the way we passed out half-page leaflets which explained why we were walking: “We stand with local people whose air, water and land are being poisoned by oil and gas pollution and whose health is suffering. We demand that Chase Bank stop its massive funding of fossil fuel companies. We call for keeping fossil fuels in the ground to prevent the escalation of destructive weather events for the sake of future generations and all life on earth. The current proposals by the Biden administration to address the climate emergency and many environmental injustices are inadequate. We need a rapid, uncompromising transition away from the extraction and burning of toxic fossil fuels while embracing renewable energy, especially solar and wind power.”

On a daily basis, we were gratified by the support given to us and expressed by people we encountered as we were walking, or who had stepped forward to give us floor space to sleep in their church or temple or lawn space on their property to camp. Local organizers all along the route responded to our plan to undertake this walk and worked with us to organize successful local actions and gatherings. The wonderful people from Seeds of Peace kept us well-fed with their traveling food-service operation.

There were challenges all throughout these nine days: high heat and humidity for about half of them; a strong wind and rain storm that came through Scranton on the second night and forced us to alter our plans for the next day as we dealt with lots of wet tents, clothes and continuing rain for most of the third day; rain on day seven as we walked along the 291 Industrial Highway to Chester and Marcus Hook, Pa.; and just staying on a very packed schedule of walking, actions, public gatherings, walker gatherings and dealing with the logistics of the trip.

We got through all of this because we had to, because there was a shared and openly expressed feeling about how urgent the issues are that we were addressing. That feeling built as we met and talked with local people along the way dealing with the negative impacts of a toxic, extractive, fossil fuel economy, a corporate-dominated economy, which puts profits for a tiny few above the health and wellness of the many. On this walk, we saw, smelled, learned about and were moved, over and over again, by those realities.

Without a doubt, the walk deepened our personal commitments to do all that we can both right now, when Biden and Congress need strong pressure to do the right thing legislatively, and for years to come to change this unjust, unequal, corrupt and polluting system.

 
Ted Glick is a volunteer organizer with Beyond Extreme Energy and author of Burglar for Peace: Lessons Learned in the Catholic Left’s Resistance to the Vietnam War, published last year. Past writings and other information can be found at https://tedglick.com, and he can be followed on Twitter at https://jtglick.com.