A Retrospect on Our First Attempt at Holding a Protest

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I was just about to reclaim my life again after dedicating most of my energies towards San Clemente Green, an organization my wife and I began more than three years ago. Even back then, I was somewhat reluctant to pursue the task that life presented us. Our inquiry into our city?s plans to participate in the ?green? movement led to the discovery that it would take a grass roots effort to pressure the city council into dedicating the time and resources required to put together a Sustainability Action Plan (SAP). We had never done anything close to starting a campaign like that, but we accepted the challenge, thinking, ?if not us, then who ? if not now, then when??  Now the plan has been adopted, and the relationships and personal growth we gained in the process has been very rewarding, but the results of our efforts remain to be seen as we watch the implementation phase limp out of the gates in the race towards a resilient future. It is likely that this effort will require continuous oversight, even as we try to scale back and focus on the home front.

Then Fukushima happened, and all of those parts of our life that had stagnated and wilted from lack of attention suddenly got shelved again. As we watched in horror, feeling empathy and sorrow for those countless victims in Japan, we couldn?t help but to recognize the eerie similarities and acknowledge the fact that this could easily be our town on the other side of the television.

Having acquired some new skills and significant relationships in the local government and media, it became painfully clear that whether they knew it or not, our community needed us again. We rallied the troops, joined forces with other groups, (CREED and ROSE), and set off on yet another campaign. The nature of the beast was far more menacing than the SAP effort, but the stakes were even greater. We were not just taking on the nuclear power industry, but we were confronting the pervasive lies that create an illusion of safety which is so much more appealing than the truth. The society in which we live has become desensitized to the new realities we are confronted with and the reluctance to listen and accept the need for change and take action is a far greater obstacle than I ever imagined.

Having concluded that an all out effort was called for to hold our first protest ever, everything else was put on hold for the past week or so. I look around the house on the morning after and see the chaos that one would conclude was the result of someone who had either thrown a massive party or had an emergency situation, forcing them to leave everything behind in a moment?s notice. That analogy reverberates deep into my soul, rippling through every aspect of my life. The question lingering in the rubble is wondering if it was all worthwhile. The answer is inescapable, for I know there was never really any choice in the matter. How do you turn your back on the helpless children that stand in harm?s way for countless generations to come, when it is within your power to try to do something about it?

I have so much admiration for those who have been confronting nuclear power since its conception, without losing faith or questioning the path they have chosen, and when so much apathy and outright contempt surrounds them. My personal journey into the fray has only been over the last couple of years. Workers at the plant have approached our group as an alternative way to express their concerns over safety issues. They fear that going through official channels available to them would result in their persecution and retaliation from management. That was the point for me when the lies that hid the truth had become transparent and transformative. I was now one of ?them?, yet I still question if I have the same kind of stamina that they have sustained over the long haul.

I saw this protest as a fleeting chance to capture the attention of the people, while the images of wave after wave of unbelievable destruction and exploding nuclear power plants still lingered in the psyche of the public. Nuclear facilities in Japan continue to spew their venom into the world, but many people are already referring to this catastrophe in past-tense as the ?news? moves on to the next captivating story. The amount of denial going on is staggering, yet there are glimpses of hope in the impressive number of participants who showed up at the scene of our protest, with signs and banners and the courage to speak out against the cover-ups that threaten our very lives and homes.

I may be suffering a bit of battle fatigue as I write this retrospective point of view. There is a deeper feeling of acceptance for the fact that what is called for now is a long-term plan that will endure the oppressive nature of distortions that hide the truth in order to promote the status quo at any cost. The first encounter of our new coalition was a respectable demonstration, holding our ground in the face of the beast I metaphorically call the Lie Monster. The event brought together new people and groups, all of whom have so much to offer in so many ways.

I?ve learned a great deal from this experience and plan to re-group with the leaders to compare notes and be much better prepared for whatever comes next. I have so much gratitude for those who helped out and those who attended. It is a relief to know that we are many in what would otherwise feel like an impossible mission. I expect that the numbers of people involved will continue to multiply as we apply our collective thinking and talents to take this world towards a sustainable future.

I am just about to head out to Malibu for the ?Permaculture Convergence? where I can rejuvenate my spirit in the company of like-minded people and perhaps make even more connections to further the cause. I hope it will also allow time for a plan to formulate in my head as to how to proceed with the movement and still manage to pay the bills, maintain the home front, and continue on my own path to leading a more sustainable life and leave a better future for those who follow.

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