Yesterday afternoon I took part in a sit-in at the office of Lee Todd, President of the University of Kentucky. The reason for our sit-in was not to STOP THIS WAR.
The sit-in was to communicate the concerns of many about a proposed logging project at Robinson Forest, a UK-owned island of ecosystem wellness surrounded by a sea of mountaintop-removal devastation, located in eastern Kentucky’s Perry, Breathitt and Knott counties.
However, if you read my previous entry (and I know one person has – sheesh, Harold), maybe you can discern why I am writing about the sit-in to get at how you and I must work a lot harder to STOP THIS WAR.
It all boils down to doing something – not just sitting around talking (or whining) or reading about it. Taking actual physical action is the key. Online behavior does not count.
This basic rule for making a difference was said best in “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, though the expression is not Homeland-Security correct: “When you have to shoot.... shoot, don’t talk.”
Until you act, you remain anonymous, and you are not helping to STOP THIS WAR.
You are just making noise.
To STOP THIS WAR, you must be willing to take a concrete action that reveals, for all to see, where you stand – literally. (And then, another action. It gets easier.)
Before the sit-in, we stood in a nearby building, gathering our group and talking to the media and preparing to walk across a small plaza to the Administration building and the President’s office. (Note: Kentucky author Eric Reece was there, standing back, speaking to no one, and writing steadily into a notebook – I am told that he is writing a book about Robinson Forest.)
A number of the participants were visibly nervous, but they forced themselves to keep taking the next step, and then the one after that. (What first or second step have you taken today, to STOP THIS WAR?).
We huddled for a brief set of directions on remaining non-violent and friendly, and were given the curious but scary warning, repeated, “Do not get behind a policeman,” like cops were a type of velociraptor. We were told to sit down when instructed to sit down, and when the cops come (do not get behind them and) either leave when they tell you to, or stay if you want to – there was cash bail money available.
An amiable television reporter and cameraman dogged us, providing a filmed and spoken narrative for our sprint across the plaza, “And then the group crossed the brief distance to the administration building,” as we chanted “Save Robinson Forest, Save Robinson Forest.”
We had been instructed to enter the President’s office two by two, asking permission to enter and speak to him, but the media was sort of pushing us forward and before we knew it, a wedge of cameras and reporters and students and leaders were all crammed into the outer office, asking the secretary and the President’s wingman for permission to speak to the guy, who was, they said, long gone on his way to a conference in Pittsburgh.
I am not going to provide a blow-by-blow of this event and the two to three long hours that we sat in, on the President’s colorful new carpet, because my main aim is to explain how you can – and must, to be effective – personally take actual physical steps to STOP THIS WAR.
But there was an instructive moment of action – a very quiet one, but wonderful – when we all acted on our commitment, during the sit-in. It happened when our spokesperson Garrett Graddy was explaining to the President’s guy, Douglas Boyd, how Kentucky’s environmental community had been repeatedly ignored in our concerns about the plan to “log for science” at Robinson Forest. She handed him various petitions and letters.
Boyd, every inch the communications professor he said he was, did a fabulous stalling and side-tracking job, asking small, stupid, seemingly-interested, detailed questions that Garrett had to stop and back up and think about in order to reply. Meanwhile, who knew what alarums and uproars were going on across the campus in response to whatever signal he or the secretary had sent out.
Garrett persevered through Boyd’s stalling, distracting, and disarming tactics. She turned to look at us all standing behind her as she said to him, “And we are going to sit,” – nodding to us – “until we get some answers.”
And we all commenced to sit. We sank – some immediately, some by degrees – to the office floor. Made ourselves comfortable. No longer could we bolt for the door or plead a class or appointment. We had taken action and committed ourselves, gently but firmly, for all to see, to Save Robinson Forest.
“But that’s not what I came to tell you about,” as Arlo Guthrie said then, and still says today.
You need to ask yourself:
What action can I take today, out in front of every one, to STOP THIS WAR?
This needs to be an action that you take in the open – in the real world, not the virtual or private one – for all to see.
Yes – your next door neighbors, and people you don’t want to disagree with, and total strangers, who are often your closest friends in situations like this – you have to let them all know that you think we need to STOP THIS WAR.
Here’s one, to get you started (and then I am going away for a while).
1. Take that anti-war bumpersticker out of the dark place you hid it, and PUT IT ON YOUR CAR.
I will leave you alone to struggle with carrying out this momentous act.
Your suggestions welcome, but if they start with the F-word, I am not too interested.
More to come.
Love and peace,