Inside the mind of Extinction Rebellion
Thought Extinction Rebellion were a bunch of tree-huggers who glue themselves to planes? Take a peek inside the collective mind of the world's biggest protest movement...
Extinction Rebellion – aka ‘XR’ – started with a small demonstration in Parliament Square on 31st October 2018. They expected a couple of hundred people. Instead, 1,500 pitched up to participate in civil disobedience.
Over the next few weeks, 6,000 joined and when some brave souls glued themselves to planes and offices. Piers Morgan ripped into “jet-setting luvvies” like Benedict Cumberbatch for showing solidarity; some commuters raged when protestors brought London to a standstill.
Extinction Rebel is about more than just shouting and superglue, though. Check out this brilliant manifesto–cum-clarion call by Jay Griffiths and the XR UK Vision team on ‘Why we Rebel’…
Why we Rebel by Extinction Rebellion UK
“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, said Mandela. History is calling from the future, a hundred years from now. Half a hundred years. Ten. Today. Calling the conscience of humanity to act with the fierce urgency of now.
Seasons are out of step so even the plants are confused. Ancient wisdoms are being betrayed and the young are facing a world of chaos and harrowing cruelty. In the delicate web of life, everything depends on everything else: we are nature and it is us, and the extinction of the living world is our suicide.
Not one sparrow can now be beneath notice, not one bee.
Something in the human spirit, too, is threatened with extinction. Many feel exhausted, ignored, lonely and anxious. Humiliated by poverty and inequality, crushed by debt, powerless, controlled and trapped, many feel defrauded of what should rightly be theirs. Societies are polarised, people estranged from each other and sundered from the living world.
Many feel exhausted, ignored, lonely and anxious.
Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars, and they are lining up now to write rebellion across the skies. There is no choice.
This is a rebellion for the young people and for the ancestors. This is for the turtle and the salamander, the dugong and the dove. It is for the finned, furry and feathered ones, the ones who scamper and swim, the chattering, chirping and hooting ones.
This is for the forests and the forest medicines, for the trees of wisdom, the trees of life and the living waters of the Nile and the Yangtze, the Tigris and the Ganges. This is for the seven seas, in seven directions, down to the seventh generation.
This is for the Great Song that runs underneath all the melodies, the rhythms of rain and sun, the rhymes of polar ice. We humans sang before we spoke, and we still know the song, though the harmonies are jangled and the melodies flung out of tune.”
We’re cheating the young generation
“Each generation is given two things: one is the gift of the world, and the other is the duty of keeping it safe for those to come. The generations of yesterday trust those of today not to take more than their share, and those of tomorrow trust their elders to care for it.
The contract is broken, and it is happening on our watch.
A pathological obsession with money and profit is engineering this breakdown. Warped and spiritually desolate, this system is contemptuous of humanity and the living world, and held in place by a toxic media (power without truth); by toxic finance (power without compassion); and toxic politics (power without principle).
The world’s resources are being seized faster than the natural world can replenish them. Children can do the maths on this, and know they are being sent the bill. And the young are in rebellion now. This is their time, their fire. The flame is theirs and they are lighting the way. Why?
The heaviest emissions have been produced by the richest nations
Because they are the touchstone of nations, carrying the moral authority of innocence. Because they have not lived long enough to have their clear vision dimmed: this is not a game — it is about life and death and they know it. Because they are young enough to know cheating is wrong and old enough to see they have been cheated of their safety, their dreams and their future. Because they are young enough to be awed by the magic of living creatures and old enough to be heartbroken by their slaughter. Because they are young enough to know it is wrong to lie and old enough to use the right words: this is an emergency.
Worldwide, the heaviest emissions have been produced by the richest nations, while the heaviest consequences are being felt by the poorest. The few have sown the wind, and are forcing the many to reap the whirlwind. Reparation is needed.
You are Extinction Rebellion
“Extinction Rebellion is young, old, black, white, indigenous, of all faiths and none, of all genders and sexualities and none: being alive on earth now is all the qualification required.
It is a rebellion against the heartless, loveless and lifeless delusion of seeing Earth as dead matter; against patriarchy’s domination and control of women and the Earth, against heterosexism that condemns the beauty of diverse love, against the militarism that destroys living lands, wages war for oil and kills those who protect the green world. This rebellion uses the finest weapons: peace, truth and love. It is strictly non-violent as an active stance — Ahimsa — preventing violence. For this, it is willing to take disruptive, loving and effective direct action, thinking big. Take the planet off the stock market. Make ecocide law. Rebel with cause. Rebel with creativity. Rebel with compassion. Rebel together because together we are irresistible.
Tell the Truth is the first demand of Extinction Rebellion, using fearless speech, Gandhi’s ‘truth-force’ which creates a change of heart. People are not stupid: people feel a pervasive uneasiness at the extremes of weather, the floods, droughts and hurricanes, but they have the legal and moral right to be fully informed of the speed and scale of the crisis.
Tell the Truth is the first demand
Extinction Rebellion’s vision is a politics of kindness rendered consistently and unapologetically. Its vision depends on values that are the most ordinary and therefore the most precious: human decency, dignity, responsibility, fairness, duty, honesty, morality and care. With Citizens’ Assemblies, it believes that when people are given good information, they make good decisions.”
We need clear-eyed urgency
“This rebellion is regenerative, arriving with armfuls of cake and olives, bread and oranges. It reconfigures older and wiser ways of living while voicing the grief and fear of these times. It creates communities of belonging, with mentoring and eldership, where everyone’s contribution is welcome. Rooted in radical compassion, trust, reverence and respect, the finest technology we have is love.
With serious, clear-eyed urgency, we have to mobilise now for deep adaptation for what is inevitable. Humans are by nature cooperative, and times of crisis can be times when life is lived transcendently, for a purpose beyond the self. No individual alone is fully human, as the African concept Ubuntu shows: our humanity results from being in connection with each other. Believing that there is no Them and Us, only all of us together, Extinction Rebellion seeks alliances wherever they can be found. We are fighting for our lives and if we do not link arms, we will fail because the forces we are up against are simply too powerful. We need you.
An economy that maximises happiness and minimises harm
Extinction Rebellion seeks an economy that maximises happiness and minimises harm; that restores soil health and the honourable harvest, taking only what is freely given from the wind, sun and tides. In a decarbonised and relocalised system, it embraces frugality for the sake of fairness. It seeks to restore a sacred rightness to the world, to everything its season, the beauty of its steady balance. It restores the right to dream, relentlessly, gracefully, wildly. As trenchant as it is effervescent, this rebellion beckons the conscience, quickens the pulse and galvanises the heart.
For our deepest longings are magnificent: to live a meaningful life, to be in unity with each other and with the life-source, call it the spirit, call it the divine, call it the still small voice, it doesn’t matter what it is called or how it is spelled if it guides us in service to life.
This vision has a map. It is the map of the human heart. Believing in unflinching truth, reckless beauty and audacious love, knowing that life is worth more than money and that there is nothing greater, nothing more important, nothing more sacred than protecting the spirit deep within all life.”
This is life in rebellion for life.
Follow Extinction Rebellion on Twitter: @ExtinctionR
Join the rebellion: rebellion.earth
Join The Book of Man
Sign up to our daily newsletters to join the frontline of the revolution in masculinity - plus be the first to read columns by Professor Green and Jason Fox.