The chief troublemaker over at Greenpeace in the USA wrote to his team about George W. Bush's victory in the US and what it means for the environmental cause. For all of us concerned about the future of our planet and the role that US policy plays in that future, it's a stirring reminder that setbacks are part of saving the world.
It's hard to know what to say today. To see Bush re-elected with
the first electoral majority since his father's first election is
an emotional blow.
He seems to have secured a mandate based on his policies of
pre-emptive war, war on the environment, crony capitalism, veiled
racism, homophobia and a fundamentalism that would make the Taliban
proud. This despite the largest "Get out the Vote" effort in the
history of progressive causes in the United States.
I can't tell you what went wrong. The political analysts will be
coming forth with their thoughts over the next several weeks. What
I can tell you is that our country is split down the middle
creating a cultural civil war that is not going away any time soon.
It is a fight over values in which there is very little middle
ground remaining. The stakes are extremely high for all we hold
dear. I do not write to offer answers. I know that we must find
ways to inspire ourselves and our allies to strive for a greener
and more peaceful world.
I also know that in the history of social movements there have
been setbacks and sacrifices far higher than we have yet paid.
There have been causes that have taken generations. When you listen
to President Bush and feel disenfranchised, when you feel like your
government doesn't represent you, when you feel like it is no
longer your country, savor that feeling. Before Gandhi, King,
Lewis, Parks, Muir and Thoreau went on to do great things, they all
felt that way. They felt it, it made them angry, and then it
motivated them. Now it's our turn. Feel pissed off. Then together
we will turn it into something.
I know that yesterday's setback will weed the summer soldiers
from the ranks of the movement. But I also know that the sweetness
of a victory is in direct proportion to the enormity of the
struggle. I know that our Greenpeace mission is the struggle of our
generation and that George Bush is symbolic of all that we oppose.
And I know that this struggle is going to be long and bitter, that
we will have to work harder and smarter, we will have to make
greater sacrifices, and ultimately, the cause for which we fight
will be the envy of future generations.
We all need to spend some time being pissed off. Feeling shock.
Mourning. Then we have to act. Our cause is just. We can not afford
to be defeated, or to be defeatist. Too much is at stake: our
planet, our future and the legacy we leave to our children.