Lone wacko reminds us how sane the environmental movement really is

It looks like a headline from The Onion, but it is entirely true:

Hundreds of Millions Remain Peaceful In Face of Annihilation

As the story of the Discovery Channel hostage-taker makes it’s way through the media, those opposed to the sane management of the earth’s remaining resources will undoubtedly take the opportunity   to disparage all of the millions of environmentalists around the world and their ideas. [Update: they already are] However, I will argue that the opposite interpretation is more appropriate.

Organized by 350.org, October 24th 2009 was "the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history," according to CNN, with 5200 actions in 181 countries. No incidents were reported.

There have always been poor, misguided souls whose mental afflictions have led them to take as their own the cause of some group or another and turn it into something violent. No great effort of people, no movement for justice has ever become large without trapping in it’s gravity the occasional lunatic.

It is not surprising, then, that on Wednesday, one such man did something crazy in the name of environmental stewardship. James J. Lee, strapped with explosives, stormed into the Discovery Channel’s headquarters, took 3 people hostage, and was eventually killed by police. Injuries were limited to the hostage-taker and the types of  ideas he claimed to stand for.

What is surprising, is how starkly Lee’s actions stand out against the backdrop of the efforts of the worldwide environmental movement. The environmental community is enormous; it is decades old and includes members from every nation on the planet. The sheer numeric improbability that there aren’t more lost souls committing acts like Lee’s speaks volumes about the values and character of the individuals of that global society. The “environmentalist wacko” is an endangered species in its own right. When is the last time you checked the news and shook your head at all the eco-terrorist activities that filled the pages?

More astonishing still–consider that the consequence of a failed environmental movement is no less than the ruination of the only place that we can survive. There is everything to lose, yet with so much suffering at stake, millions of environmentalists carry this weight in their conscience without succumbing to desperation and destruction.

The big story here is that the habitability of our planet is hanging in the balance. The hook is that
(unlike governments that often jump to war when threatened) simple civil society worldwide remains mostly dignified, united and nonviolent, day after day, as our only planet is savaged for short-term profit.

“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.” Mohandas Gandhi

2 Responses to “Lone wacko reminds us how sane the environmental movement really is”


  1. 1 Tod "Koch" Brilliant Sep 2nd, 2010 at 5:44 pm
  2. 2 J Sep 6th, 2010 at 9:24 am

    The first rule of effective sabotage: don’t get caught. Lee walked into an impossible situation that, predictably, could only be resolved through his death. It seems part of his fatal flaw was ideological. Humans are not the problem, since our species managed to live on the Earth for at least a million years without f*cking things up. Civilized humans, on the other hand, have fortified a serious disconnect between ourselves and our biological life-support system.

    Any serious act in defense of our planet must be carried out keeping in mind: avoiding loss of life or meaningless destruction of property, considering the risks vs. the consequences (it it worth it?), and an appreciation of the leverage the act produces.

    I have gone through periods where I’ve considered pulling-off some pretty crazy things. Thankfully, and so far, sanity has prevailed. That said, I can’t blame anyone for wanting to affect serious harm on the institutions that benefit from killing the planet. My plea to anyone considering suicide in the manner of Lee is to try to find others to work this sh*t out with. Surely, if he had bounced this idea off of a few close confidants he would could have chosen a wiser path.

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Organizer, climate justice activist.

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