This is a hard one.
I had to sit in the dark with journal to pen to even begin. There’s an unfortunate confluence of emotions that need processing. Mine. I require the sort of timeless reflection that can only be expressed by hand. The inner work has manifested itself as a deliberate trip past the superficial talents of the every day. Here I sit, now barely scratching the surface. I’m depending on the quiet darkness to lead me inward & to the wisdom I need to process the tangled, yet simultaneously scattered emotions, you’ve left me with.
I’m joined by presence of an elderly man. I knew he’d come. This Solemn Old Chief has been with me for as long as I remember. He stops in from time to time. I’ve recently come to realize that He is the Earth.
He’s the reflection of diversity through oneness.
He will be my guide through this mess since I see you’ll be no help.
America, I just spent my first Thanksgiving with you. Smaller than small town, middle of nowhere without wifi or service. So middle of nowhere that when it rains, you can’t get up the mountainside driveway.
I chose to spend this holiday with you because I love you. ‘Merica, you’ve been good to me. I’ve travelled your backroads & found courage on them. I’ve rescued my heart through you & you’ve stolen my pride more than once. You’ve privileged me with the introduction of your beautiful people & the shyest forest spirits. You’ve always been warm & supremely kind to me.
Like I said, I love you.
But I find you impossible to understand.
I want to but You Are Ruining Everything.
Everything that makes you special is crumbling & you don’t seem to care.
Through a mutual laziness & a century of indifference, you’re unrecognizable. You are not the force who fought so hard to be born. Where’s the nation who used to storm the streets for equality & demand progress?
We used to look at you in admiration: Peace, Freedom, & Equality for All; The American way now translated to ‘For Sale to the Highest Bidder no matter the cost to populace or land.'
You used to inspire us with your innovation & progress.
Now, we look at you & feel sad.
Sad, embarrassed, & a little afraid.
Yes, I’m afraid of you.
We’re going to have to break up.
It’s not me, it’s you.
It’s not your people either.
It’s certainly not your simultaneously rolling hills & raging landscapes.
Because you are dear to me, I write to you a parting love letter.
This Thanksgiving, we feasted. We sat around the table & expressed our gratitude, & this year, for the first in 20, people here gave thanks for an abundance of rain. Normally drought ridden & dusty, she's barely stopped in weeks.
We joined around the table, giving thanks for Water in a dry land. Just a few states over, Peaceful Protestors have been murdered by the police for protecting the same.
There’s a Water war taking place. For years I’ve heard we will war over precious resources in coming years & that it would begin with Water. Never did my white privilege expect this to start in my own backyard.
The violence of this war is one-sided.
You’ve chosen to open fire, on yet another sovereign Nation, in the name of big oil.
Unarmed Water Protectors are being shot & murdered after weeks of being threatened with semi-automatic weapons, attacked by dogs, put in said kennels, pepper sprayed, assaulted, & arrested.
You’re doing this on sacred, Native American treaty land. You are trying to put a pipeline through sacred burial grounds. You are invading sovereign territory allocated to the Natives of Standing Rock after we, the whites, stole everything else & forced them into treaty all those thanksgivings past. They were told that if they respected the imposed laws of the land & lived in peace, they would be left to do the same, in autonomy, on their time honoured territory. This territory. Without a choice, they ceded & signed, assuming you would hold your end as they have theirs.
But then came the oil.
You always have to have more. Why with the abundance you’re provided with are you not grateful? Why have you refused to embody the spirit of this holiday you place so much credence to?
Let’s look at the facts.
You are building a pipeline through a sovereign nation.
You do not have permission to do this but are forcing your way just the same. You have a century old, legally binding contract with these people. It recognizes their autonomy & promises to honour it.
You’ve done this before but not in your own country. You’ve conquered in the name of oil, disguised as freedom & when the people in these lands stood up to invasion, they're called terrorists. Accused of terrorizing; in need of rescue.
You’d have us believe those at Standing Rock are nothing more than a rag tag bundle of extremists when in fact, thousands from around the world have joined in peaceful support. They are standing in prayer for the land & generations of all people. Is the right to peaceful protest not protected in your constitution?
Standing up to you is every colour of person. Every age. Every background & religion.
This pipeline was originally planed to go through ‘white’ communities. They protested, surprise surprise, because they were concerned for their Water. Instead of bulldozing through their homes, on public land, not sovereign, you moved to Native Territory, expecting American apathy & systemic racism to get you through. You are promoting racist policies, so deeply rooted in your institutions, you assumed you'd continue getting away with it.
The people, YOUR people, have had enough.
To be clear. This is not a conversation about oil & if we should process it or not. It’s not about that. I got here in a car run on gas, am writing with a plastic pen, & sitting at a plastic table. It’s sad but it’s our unfortunate reality. We’ve come to this. All too often, this part of the conversation is used to gloss over the bigger issue, which is our dependence on this finite resource & the damage it causes. We use this as an excuse to be lazy & suppress the innovations available to us that could decrease, & eventually eliminate, this dependency. We limit our imagination everyday in this area.
To distract us that fat cats are getting fatter at the expense of our future.
Don’t take my word for it.
Do your reading. I recommend independent news resources since they aren’t owned by oil & big business (don’t get me started). Here are a few to get you going: