On January 13, I offered these brief thoughts to the attendees of the Mickee Faust Inaugural Bawl. in Tallahassee I hope you will find them of use.
Imagine yourself on a gorgeous, wild island, maybe the most beautiful in all the world: St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge.
Imagine that from dawn until sunset, you have tramped the beaches and the forest and the marshes, searching out every kind of bird you could identify and count, from the largest eagle to the smallest nuthatch.
Imagine that it’s now the end of the day, and you are poking along a grassy path near Big Bayou, hoping to add a rare grebe or sparrow to your long list of species.
And just then, a sharp fierce rattle stops you in your tracks.
This happened to me and my companions on the Christmas Bird Count in late December. The source of the rattling lay at the edge of a stand of palmetto, a magnificent snake, as thick in the body as a cat. In self defense, to warn us away, she had spread her bright diamond scales, coiled her body, and flattened her head.
She was serious about protecting her wild space on that wild island. Believe me, we backed up.
Here’s the question that the protective instincts of the rattlesnake poses to us now.
Exactly how will WE protect the defenseless of all species and genders and races, and the sacred and essential Earth?
Exactly how will WE exercise real political influence, now that the right controls every branch of our federal government?
I suggest we begin by reclaiming the rattlesnake.
You know that rattlesnakes were co-opted as a symbol by early colonists, and even today decorate the flags hoisted by right-wing tea partiers.
It’s time to restore the courage and gravitas of that animal to our movements on behalf of sanctuary, social justice and climate healing.
The belly of the rattlesnake never loses contact with the earth, even as she rises up to strike, if defend herself she must. The Earth is the source of our power, too.
It is time to restore in our bodies, and in our emerging movements, a powerful connection to the very local ground where we live.
Millions of us rose up and marched on behalf of all that threatens our children’s future last Saturday. That was a beginning. But as the prominent social activist Frances Fox Piven reminds us, if we are to create successful movements, we will need to go beyond display, far beyond marches and posters and social media.
She says that only when ordinary people cause trouble, can they affect real change.
So let us then make trouble.
Let us be as serious in our intent to protect life as the wild island rattlesnake.Share On: