On Being Rebellious

Activism | Green Issues

I penned this brief piece to mark Extinction Rebellion’s first birthday on the 1st November which was read out at my XR group’s celebrations. It is further insight into the October Rebellion and why I am involved. I hope you like it x

I first grew rebellious in my youth, but matured into sensible behaviour in my thirties. Now, I am rebelling again and I have to say I have rather a taste for disobedience! There is an illicit, childish thrill to sticking your fingers in your ears and humming, whilst an officer of the law is issuing you with a section 14!  And a swelling of pride in seeing the boys in blue being diverted by chasing after a decoy structure, so we could get more packed into our little love rebellion village.

My activist parents have led by example, both having been arrested in their past for direct action. So, a family tradition had perhaps begun, as I sat in the Rose blockade with my mum by my side. A passing down of values and protest, which I hope to instil in my son too as it’s his future I am fighting for.

But fighting for action shouldn’t be so much fun though surely? Although tempered with discomfort from the cold, rain and restricted space at times, it was also a bit of a wheeze. The first night on the Poppy blockade the air was filled with the sound of our harmonious rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody led by a young Freddie Mercury lookalike (moustache and all), I am sure Boris (Johnson) appreciated our singing talents as he tried to get to sleep!

I made the decision to be arrestable some weeks before London and wrote a pre-prepared statement that could not be read without tears streaming down my face. Although I was ready and in the right headspace the day it looked possible, I was still very apprehensive. My stomach churned as my flight response kicked in. I knew I could back out at any time, but the camaraderie and energy of the day kept me true. I told myself that I have faced far worse in my life than a few hours in a police cell and it’s certainly not as frightening as what is coming.  

We sat on the Rose blockade for many hours, our spirits kept high with the help of the samba band, rounds of singing, Rebel Roos and copious amounts of snacks generously handed out. Please note, I will be happy if I never see another flapjack again! The incredible ingenuity of the Da Vinci bridge matched by the amazing temerity of the young woman atop kept the buzzies busy for some time. I was asked if I had anything to say, and being very smart I had written SAVE EARTH on my hands, which I held aloft for all to see. Embarrassingly, as my hands were turned the other way they actually  stated EARTH SAVE sounding more like an ethical bank account than a plea to the authorities!

Finally arrests began to happen in earnest and it looked like our waiting was over. With lock-ons and glue-ons around us the adrenaline was coursing… only for the police to walk away! Their cells and vans full and rebels being de-arrested. Although I was disappointed, I like to think I made their job a bit more difficult and what’s more important I stood my ground for what I believe in. I do feel that I should have stayed as the later threat of forceful removal did move me away. But, I now know I can put myself in that space when the time comes again.

When people ask me what the rebellion was like, the first word that comes to mind is intense. The mixture of emotions coupled with a high dose of adrenaline is a heady cocktail (with a similar hangover afterwards) and difficult to express to the uninitiated. Expectations after my April rebellion experience were high, but I was not disappointed. The incredible sense of community, love, power, purpose and hope embraced me in an almost spiritual way. So much so that when I am now asked if I am part of Extinction Rebellion, I defiantly said “yes, I am!”

I once read that activism is like ripples in water, every action spreads out even when it feels like it hasn’t achieved much. We will be mostly unaware of how much our efforts have affected other people and drawn them into the fight. I had a friend down to visit us on our blockade, who until I met her would have only been a petition filler and an MP writer, but my bad influence has led her astray. But better than that she is singing the praise of activists like us in the very conservative town where I live, where she holds far more sway then I have.

Finding XR has been like finding my tribe. After losing my husband, I lost a lot of friends and have been very isolated. Becoming aware of the true extent of climate crisis was doubly isolating. But now I am finally surrounded by people who are willing to do pretty much anything about it and are pretty amazing too. So, I feel honoured to stand beside you all and call you my friends. 

Ismay
​x

​#tellthetruth #actnow #rebelforlife

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Rebel for Life
Why I am Rebelling
5 Ways to Save the Planet pt2
Responding to Criticism of the Rebellion

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