Standing Up for a Livable Future
By Jamie Pleune / peacefuluprising.org
Mar 1, 2011

For the past few weeks, I have been learning how to sing.  Once a week, members of the Unitarian Church, social activists, and climate activists have been gathering together to learn the some of the old protest songs that buoyed up the abolition movement, the civil rights movement, and the peace movement.  I won’t lie.  It’s a little awkward to find my voice and raise it up in public.  But as I learn the classic songs of civil dissent, like “We Shall Not Be Moved,” and “Been to Jail for Justice,” I have begun to think that maybe we all need to practice raising our voices a little bit more.  These classics have also made me think about the corrective role of civil disobedience in a free society.

Dissent is a part of democracy and civil disobedience can be a courageous act of dissent.  A person practicing civil disobedience puts his liberty on the line in order to continue living with a free conscience.  Thanks to such courageous acts, slavery is illegal, women have the right to vote, black and white customers share the same lunch counter, and children no longer work in mines or sweatshops.

This Monday, February 28, Tim DeChristopher will face trial in Salt Lake City for objecting to the government’s prioritization of fossil fuel interests over the public’s interest in a livable future in the face of climate change.   On December 19, 2008 as the Bush Administration headed out of office, it offered oil and gas companies the opportunity to purchase leases to drill in scenic and biologically sensitive areas.  Some of the parcels bordered Arches National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, the Needles Overlook and Hatch Point, while others were on sage-grouse habitat or on wilderness-quality land.

Tim intended to join a group of protesters lawfully picketing the auction outside the U.S. Bureau of Land Management office.  On arrival, it took only a few minutes for him to recognize the familiar dynamic plaguing our nation’s relationship to fossil fuels:  the people were outside, while the oil and gas companies were inside.  An economics student at the University of Utah, Tim had recently taken a final exam that asked whether the sale price of the oil and gas leases at the BLM auction would accurately reflect fair market value if the only bidders in the room worked for oil and gas interests.

Tim decided to go inside.

The rest of the story is common knowledge.  Tim became Bidder 70.  He bid up the price of several leases (initially they were selling for only $2.00 an acre).  Halfway through the auction, he began winning leases.  Recognizing that something was awry, the auctioneer called for a break and eventually canceled the auction.  This bought enough time for a federal court to review the sale and issue a temporary restraining order for apparent procedural problems.  Later, when the BLM re-evaluated the appropriateness of selling each parcel, it concluded that only 17 of the 77 parcels were ready to be leased.  The other 60 parcels were either inappropriate for oil and gas development or inadequately evaluated.

Although both the judicial branch and the executive branch seen to have concluded that the December 19, 2008 auction was unlawful, Tim will spend Monday morning facing the possibility of ten years in prison.

Why is the federal government pushing for a criminal conviction in this case?  When a citizen defies an admittedly unlawful government act, what good is served by criminal punishment?  Tim acted on behalf of all of us, pushing the government to protect our public lands and our right to a livable future in the face of climate change.  Even the Department of Defense has recognized that climate change presents a serious threat.  Yet, the fossil fuel industry continues to enjoy subsidies, tax breaks and preferential treatment inside the halls of Congress while “We the People” wait outside.

It’s time for reform.  And it’s time to show support for members of our community with the moral courage to align their conscience and their actions by standing up for our right to a livable future.  That is why I, and many others, will stand in solidarity with Tim on Monday outside the courthouse.  Oh, and by the way, we’ll be singing.

Jamie Pleune, a sixth generation Utahn, lives in Salt Lake City.  She recently completed a 350 mile “Pilgrimage for Hope” through Utah to raise awareness for climate change. You can learn more about the “Bidder 70” trial by visiting www.peacefuluprising.org.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Thich Nhat Hanh: How We Can Learn to Love Our Enemies
5 min · 4,731 views today · This is a short excerpt from Peacemaking. I often think about this story when I think about the kind of activism I would like to bring into this world. I want to help build a...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 4,506 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
The Coming War on China
John Pilger · 4,286 views today · A major US military build-up – including nuclear weapons – is under way in Asia and the Pacific with the purpose of confronting China. John Pilger raises the alarm on an...
I Am Not Your Negro (2017)
3 min · 4,029 views today · In his new film, director Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished - a radical narration about race in America, using the writer's original words. He draws...
Real Underground Kingdom That Has Existed for Millions of Years Went Unnoticed, Until Recently...
Kid Krunk · 3,872 views today · 28 Stunning Photos Of The World’s Largest Cave
Murdoch and Trump, Sitting at the Tee, S-C-H-E-M-I-N-G
Frankie Boyle · 2,568 views today · Say what you like about Donald Trump but he's already done things people said were impossible, like made Twitter worse. Looking back, the Harambe situation is the closest...
The Charter For Compassion
2 min · 2,536 views today · The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated...
Simple Social Experiment Shows We Are More Than The Boxes People Put Us In
3 min · 1,962 views today · We live in a time where we are quick to put people in boxes. Maybe we have more in common than what we think?
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 1,653 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,371 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
What Happens When You Rebel Against the Herd
Sofo Archon · 1,310 views today · Are You Truly Living Your Life? You live, but are you living the way you want to live, or the way others want you to live? You choose, but are your choices based on...
"The Myth of Time" - Martin Luther King Jr.
3 min · 1,237 views today · Excerpt from MLK Jr.'s last sermon, "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution". Delivered at The National Cathedral on March 31, 1968 (4 days prior to his...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 1,234 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,153 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Surviving Capitalist Depression
Michael Emero · 1,027 views today · We live in a toxic society filled with toxic people. Even the ones with the best hearts- including ourselves- have been raised in ignorance, with disinformation. Our examples...
Hans Rosling Brilliantly Explains Complexity of Population and Resource Issues Using Simple Tools
3 min · 764 views today · Let me show you the world, says Swedish academic Han Rosling as he demonstrates the dynamics of population growth, child mortality and carbon dioxide emissions. The challenge...
What Would It Take to Stop the Raids?
CrimethInc. Ex-Workers Collective · 756 views today · Responding Effectively to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Attacks
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 723 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett · 495 views today · How to be there for the people who need you most
The Price of Certainty
7 min · 345 views today · It’s alarming to see how polarized politics have become in the United States. The wider the gulf grows, the more people seem to be certain that the other side is wrong...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Standing Up for a Livable Future