Reflecting on the train action: moving forwards together

Holly-Anna Petersen writes as a member of CCA who was not part of the Extinction Rebellion train action, reflecting on her thoughts and feelings about a divisive action:

Extinction Rebellion has got a lot of coverage over the year – which has driven the issue of climate breakdown up the agenda. However, I think it’s really important that we don’t see it as more than it is. It’s just people – people experiencing emotion and trying to respond to that.

In the same vein Christian Climate Action is just a group of people who, around our 9-5’s and other life commitments, are trying to do what we can to prevent the escalating climate catastrophe at our doorstep, even though our chances of doing this are exceptionally slim.

Because Christian Climate Action is just a group of people, those involved have lots of different views and opinions. For example, while some people may think that some of the more ‘spicy’ actions may be too intense and want to scale things down, others may think that some of the more ‘fluffy’ actions are dangerous, as they do not address the scale of the problem we face and so could act to normalise inaction to an emergency.

Christian Climate Action isn’t a space for dictating which of these views is right. It’s a space for people of faith to support each other in non-violent direct action which sit all along this spectrum. It is a community where we can lovingly grapple with the question of what to do in this desperate time and support each other in where our convictions lead us.

I personally, like many other members of Christian Climate Action, didn’t get involved in the train action. And like others, I am experiencing a number of difficult emotions following it – such as anger, sadness and compassion. I have communicated this to those involved, along with my deep love and respect. I have respect for those members of Christian Climate Action who did feel compelled to take part, not because I necessarily agree with all aspects of the action, but because I know that they were acting through their best intentions when they made the decision. I love them deeply because this is the most I can ask of a fellow human.

I know that Extinction Rebellion can be portrayed from the outside like it is a jolly. It is not. We have spent so many years trying to appeal to those in power through letters, petitions, marches and campaigns. They are not listening. Emissions are still drastically increasing and we are heading straight for catastrophic global suffering. We are not disruptive people. We are desperate people who have be driven to be disruptive. We are not doing this as an awareness raising stunt or a bid for attention or popularity. We are doing this because history shows that economic disruption, through nonviolent direct action, is the most effective way to make those in power listen and act. Our aim is to cause economic disruption to the level that it forces those in power to make the changes needed.

And we know we aren’t going to get everything right. We know we are going to make so many mistakes. We are broken human beings just like everyone. We are not doing this because we think we are perfect for it, but because “if not me, then who? If not now, then when?” Looking back at the train action it is very easy for me to stand at the side-lines and point out with retrospect the aspects which could or should have been done differently. However, I’m aware that I do this from the comfortable and pious position of someone who has a cautious nature. Whereas, it is pioneering courage, such as that shown by those who took part in the train action, which has caused Extinction Rebellion to come into fruition and thrive. So instead of passing judgement, I sit along-side my fellow Christian climate rebels in appreciation and love – to reflect and learn from the action and build our strength together for the next steps.

It is easy to build a movement, but it is infinitely more difficult to sustain one and I feel so privileged that I get to learn how to do that with such incredible group of people.

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