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Why I’m turning from law-maker to law-breaker to try to save the planet

(The Guardian, 31 Oct 2018) Direct action and civil disobedience are now needed to force governments to see that our survival as a species is at risk.

On Wednesday I will join hundreds of others in Parliament Square to assert that we will not stand idly by in the face of climate breakdown and ecological crisis. We will affirm a commitment to engage in non-violent but illegal activities to try and force urgent action. Collectively we have signed a declaration to this effect; an Extinction Rebellion against the British government for criminal inaction.

Over decades we have all operated in our different spheres of life – whether as journalists, academics, politicians, campaigners and educators – to ring the alarm about the way planetary life support systems are being destroyed. But a powerful alliance of wealthy individuals and multinational corporations, backed by complicit politicians, has subverted the political process and blocked action. This is why, whoever we are and whatever we do, we are coming together now to say we are prepared to engage in civil disobedience to force urgent climate action.

We are prepared to halt lorries entering fracking sites; to stand in the way of bulldozers building roads and block traffic along heavily congested and polluted streets. Direct actions like these have a long and proud history; it’s time to carry them through in a systematic way to protect the climate, and to be willing to be arrested for doing so.

So how have we have reached a situation where a law maker like me feels there is no alternative but to become a law breaker? Here my Quaker heritage is helpful. Our thin pamphlet of theological guidance ncludes the useful advice: “Respect the laws of the state but let your first loyalty be to God’s purposes.”

As a Quaker, I don’t believe that spiritual wisdom resides in books or rituals but in the still, small voice that tells you when something must change. When the inward light, that I believe we all have within us, prompts you to stand up to a fascist bully or to engage in civil disobedience to halt climate breakdown, you have no choice but to follow.

External link

The Guardian, 31 Oct 2018: Why I’m turning from law-maker to law-breaker to try to save the planet