After spending a week in London with XR (Extinction Rebellion) I wanted to try and share some of the experience with you. It is very difficult to express it to people who were not there but I will do my best!
It was a really intense experience and a roller-coaster of emotions with long days, late nights, little sleep and lots of adrenalin. While holding sites there was discomfort from long periods of sitting down in tight spaces, little access to toilets and food as well as the cold & rain of autumn. I chose to take time off work and be away from my son and put my liberty at risk, but I would take all the down sides and do it all again in heartbeat to highlight the severity of the climate crisis and push for action. There are environmental activists around the world who die trying to protect our plant and our future, so these all seem insignificant in comparison. witnessing other rebels and friends making huge statements of sacrifice by gluing and locking themselves onto buildings and structures is very humbling. However, I do recognise my privilege as a white, middle class woman to be able to be part of the rebellion, but I do feel that I should use this and whatever platform I can for the cause.
On our sites we created our own XR villages complete with sustenance, art, meditation, wellbeing, first aid and stewards tents. We even had toilet tents with buckets, as the police confiscated our portaloos! Our site was next to St. James’ Park where the campers had a lovely setting next to the lake and the pelicans. For me this embodied the natural world we are fighting for whilst being directly opposite the opulent buildings of Horseguards Rd which embody the establishment we are fighting against. We heard speeches from many notables including Gail Bradbrook, Mark Rylance, Bruce Parry and Rupert Read. We had live music from KT Tunstall and many others. Entertainment came from the Red Rebel Brigade, Rebel Roos, the Skeleton Parade and the dancing birds and of course people’s assemblies to make all the group decisions for the site. We truly created the society we want to see with inclusion, community and resilience.
It is difficult to describe the incredible energy of the experience in standing beside like-minded, passionate people who are using civil resistance to drive change. You begin to realise what power we all have when we come together and disobey the powers that be. That immense power of communal spirit and love was summed up for me while we protested outside the BBC by singing ‘Amazing Grace’. It was so moving it had the police officers struggling to hold back tears. You also start to realise how much social conditioning we have in society to ‘put up, and shut up’, not just from the authorities but also from peers for fear of disapproval. I was quite anxious about what some friends and family would think about what we are doing in XR, but have been pleasantly surprised with all the support I have had. It is really empowering after years of feeling like we are getting nowhere with letters, petitions and marches to see people rising up and taking action.
The main thing I take away from the whole experience is the amazing sense of love. We went to London as thousands of rebels and came back as friends. Everywhere I went hugs and words of support were given, food and supplies shared and hopes bolstered. Whilst we are sitting blocking the road, the wellbeing team would pass us food, blankets, cushions and handwarmers, while legal observers would check we knew our rights. Supporters would cheer and the samba band would drum in defiance of the police. We had pizzas delivered to us from anonymous supporters, our home rebels raised money to buy extra supplies and visitors dropped off folding chairs and head lamps. We sang together, laughed together and cried together and it was the most incredible experience of my life.
#rebelforlife #actnow #tellthetruth