and then.

When I ask why he is working on the pipeline–how he got involved in this issue–he looks confused. A few years older and taller than me, he is a member of Tar Sands Blockade, a direct action campaign that has converged upon East Texas with the intent of stopping the construction of the south arm of the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline. We are sitting around a fire on a balmy East Texas night. Wind whispers with the promise of rain and a shift in temperature but for now the air is damp and warm. Turning to hear his answer, I watch fire light bend across his face, softening edges and smoothing spaces.

“What–you mean climate change? Why do I care about climate change?”
“Sure.” I say. And he tells me.

His first year of college the war was starting and he was involved in activism to stop it. They were so passionate, so involved. They were going to stop the war. He looks me full in the eyes as he says this–the depth of his gaze conveying that no matter how idealistic this might seem now, there was clear intention and belief at the time that the war could, and would, be stopped.

They were going to stop the war. And then.

When they didn’t stop the war he vowed that the next time he would be ready–they would be ready– and another war wouldn’t start. He says that for him it is all about preventing militarization and the brutality that goes with it. He says that this drives him.

They were going to stop the war. And then.

And so, in the time after the war had started–when they hadn’t stopped it– he started learning about war and why wars start, what places that have war have in common. And he found that it was oil. In that time he found that somehow this whole crazy mess had become attached to oil and that this was why there was militarization, that this is what he would have to fight if he wanted to prevent war.

They were going to stop the war. And then.

So for him working to stop the pipeline is about climate change. Because climate change is about oil. And oil is about war. And war is about brutality and militarization and he wants to do everything he can to stop wars from coming.

They were going to stop the war. And then.

As he finishes speaking the fire spits and hisses and the wind shifts. Instead of being freckled with hazy stars the sky now swirls with wind, clouds, and rain. As we get up from the fire, bowing our heads against the wind and pulling on jackets, I pause–taking a moment to tuck his story away, taking a moment to collect myself, to make sure that as I leave this place I take it all with me. As we hurry from the fire, racing the rain, I turn to him,

“I like that.” I say. “Thanks for sharing your story.”
And then.
The sky lights up and the rain starts.

On the morning of every single new years eve of my life I have had the opportunity to participate in a world peace meditation. On this day, at six am central time, people from all over the world gather to send thought and intention believing that world peace is possible. This practice marks and numbers the years of my life. I remember the year that the war started, the years that I slept at my mama’s feet, the years that we watched the sun rise from the porch.

Every year we are going to stop the war. And then.

And then we spend a year living our lives. Waking up, eating, sleeping, laughing, traveling, crying, working, fighting, we spend a year living in a way that we believe will promote and create peace. And on new years eve morning we wake up at six am and we believe, even though the newspapers and our president and our ego tell us not to, that world peace is possible.

On new years eve morning 2012 I am thinking about the Keystone XL pipeline. I am thinking about whether or not I believe we can stop it. I am thinking about militarization and climate change and brutality and why we fight for what we believe.

And then.

And then I realize that I believe that world peace is possible because I want to stop this pipeline and this pipeline is connected to oil and oil is connected to war and war is connected to militarization and sometimes it seems like this old world is a crazy mess. On new years eve morning 2012 I believe world peace is possible because I am involved and want to stop the Keystone pipeline.

We are going to stop war.  And then.  When we do that–we will stop the pipeline.


For more information on the Tar Sands Blockade and the work being done to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline visit


5 thoughts on “and then.

  1. And then. I’m touched, moved to commitment. I’ll do more to help the TSBers. They eat, sleep, bathe, wash clothes, hurt, worry, feel lonely, …. I’m old; I’m tired, but I can help. And then. I will help — I must! Because Noah’s children need me to help now. For me, there may not be many “then”s left.

  2. And then, in the midst of knowing you can change the world, you are being, and the very act of your being (and the immense honesty with which you do it!) is an “and then” of its own, achieved!

  3. Pingback: Why One Texas Native Opposes The Keystone XL Pipeline | Rivers State News

  4. Pingback: Why One Texas Native Opposes The Keystone XL Pipeline -Niger Delta News

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