Informing the Campfire Community every day

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Rose Lennard - 06 Oct 2019
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Maybe the most important thing XR does is to model better ways to be, to be in communities, to be on this earth, with ourselves. The minute we let an Us versus Them mentality creep in, we are part of the problem.

Today, Extinction Rebellion Cheltenham staged a die-in at the Literature Festival. We filed into the main tent to the beat of a drum, then as the drum beat louder, we fell to the ground. A statement was read out about the urgency of the climate crisis, which the festival, despite its 400 speakers, is virtually silent on. At the end there was loud applause from the crowd, which felt very moving, and many people took our leaflets willingly, and as our eyes met you could see their gratitude for what XR are doing. It feels very powerful to do this action together, and to reach out and connect with the wider public.

But there were also many people who were disinterested, even hostile, who showed us with words or body language that they disapprove of our action, and are not on our side. One woman sitting next to me while I lay on the floor proclaimed ‘rubbish!’ over and over throughout our statement. And this feels painful. It’s so hard to comprehend how anyone could not see the need for urgent action, it’s hurtful to see how hardened and closed and antagonistic they are, it’s painful to be the object of their hatred or disgust.

This is going to happen a lot every time we dare to step up and be visible, speak up for what we believe in. How do we protect ourselves from painful reactions? Not by becoming hardened ourselves – our strength is in our acknowledgement of our common vulnerability. Can we find the compassion within ourselves to recognise the damage that has been done to people to make them become closed and hostile like this? It can’t be a pleasant place to be, I doubt their lives are full of joy and love. Skeena Rathor spoke movingly last night at the Stroud Fun’raiser of the need to reach out to people outside of our circle, people who don’t ‘look like us’ – really make the effort to connect, communicate, with kindness, with compassion, with love and open hearts.

Maybe the most important thing XR does is to model better ways to be, to be in communities, to be on this earth, with ourselves. The minute we let an Us versus Them mentality creep in, we are part of the problem.

Can we reach out and connect in meaningful ways over the next fortnight in London? It’s not going to be easy and we will all get it wrong sometimes. But we can also help each other to find strength and courage to be our best selves. And we may even have an amazing, joyful, inspirational time while we’re at it!

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