Standing Rock: A New Beginning


| 12/13/2016 10:46:00 AM


Tags: Standing Rock, Eric Utne, Environment,

Standing Rock
Photo by iStock/FrostOnFlower

The times we’re in are bleak. Donald Trump has just been elected. The mainstream media, including, I fear, much of public broadcasting, has abandoned its role as the Fourth Estate and now cleaves to the imperatives of the marketplace: profit-making and entertainment. The neoliberal ideology has both political parties in policy and moral lockdown. Since my first days of social consciousness, protesting the Vietnam War, I’ve witnessed our country transformed from a society into an economy.

If a pipeline company, or a mining consortium, or an oil corporation says that fracking, or risky oil pipelines, or sulfide mines will create jobs, they are handed the keys to the kingdom, and a public subsidy to boot. And if the boom turns into a bust, and the jobs don’t materialize and the pipelines erupt and pollute soil and water, or if the company goes bankrupt and the state has to pay for the cleanup, well, that’s business. Human health and happiness and goodness count for absolutely nothing against economic interests.

How do we confront this now deeply entrenched value system? How do we begin to change the status quo?

We have three options it seems to me — do nothing and hope for the best (denial), give up and become nihilistic (despair), or rouse ourselves in defense of life (bear witness). I say life because I do believe it has come to that, we are looking into an abyss of both eco-system collapse and social disintegration.

But the rousing has started up again and the demonstrations. Or perhaps they were always going on and I wasn’t paying attention. I’ve gone to Washington D.C. on the Earth Train from Saint Paul to demonstrate against the Keystone Pipeline — and at the State Capital in St. Paul. Just recently I joined several hundred people who marched and chanted “Mni Wiconi—Water is Life!” — through the streets of St. Paul to the Army Corps of Engineers building. And it was Standing Rock and what has happened in North Dakota to stop a reckless and crude oil pipeline, a money pipeline, a black snake, that recently roused me again. Standing Rock was no ordinary demonstration.