Midwinter Message from Guardianship and Visioning
December 21, 2020 by Extinction Rebellion
Holding the Heart-line – reflections for the festive season of peace and reconciliation.
We genuinely celebrate the amazing work so many of us are engaged in as a movement, and in recent weeks G & V have also been hearing from many rebels active in UK circles about real and painful confrontations that can often appear as inter-personal or inter-group conflicts. As Principle & Value 5 reminds us, what may appear as an interpersonal conflict is often a manifestation of underlying structural tensions whose ultimate roots lie in the toxic system we inevitably partake in.
Can we keep our hearts open to each other, as we seek to address these challenges? How can we act with fierce love, as we work together?
So what does our principle of conscious non-violence mean when applied to how we conduct our internal processes as a movement? In actions we have practiced relating to representatives of government, industry and the police as not being the enemy – keeping our hearts open, even as we oppose their harmful actions.
On Waterloo Bridge in our April ’19 rebellion, we initially referred to the area where our brave arrestable rebels sat down as “The Front-line”, which we were holding, reflecting the powerful confrontation taking place. After some days we wanted to move away from military metaphors and so renamed it “The Heart-line” to support keeping our hearts open, as we and our friends were arrested.
And we also have “Fault-lines” in our movement, where our deep care and diverse perspectives sometimes lead to disagreements and confrontations with other rebels. This is inevitable in a movement such as ours, and may feel like a “Front-line” battle. Can we see each other as holding roles, functions and positions which we may sometimes feel opposed to, oppressed by, or obstructed by, without closing our hearts to those persons or groups?
If we allow the tragic divisiveness of our familiar toxic system to infect us with the tendency to treat each other as the problem, we will all continue to be victims of the toxicity. If we can see each other as having diverse experiences and sometimes divergent views and approaches, and value that, we can remember that we are all working towards a shared and deeper commitment – our courageous engagement with the climate and ecological emergency.
Others are not perfect and neither are we, but perhaps we can engage robustly with our differences without forgetting our commitment to welcoming everyone and every part of everyone.
When meeting conflict, can we see this as confrontations between different systemic forces – not personalised – so not blaming others, while standing up for what what we believe to be true and right, seeking to understand other points of view, and working to find meeting places and common ground, in the spirit of our fierce and heartfelt love for each other and our world.