I got arrested for you

Not all of us can get to the front lines to highlight the insanity of a new coal mining project which jeopardises our collective future. But some of us can. Greg Rolles is a Quaker and he is one of those people. Here he challenges readers to think outside the box.....

“I know you’ve been through this before, so I won’t bore you with the details.” The Queensland police sergeant had hold of my right arm stretched out in front of me, his constable my other. My legs were like jelly after spending three hours in the tripod. The constable had spent a significant amount of that time tapping a rock on the metallic structure trying to wear me out with the incessant banging, and I wondered how his arm was doing. I drew in a deep breath as I began my stay with Lady Justice. No, not Lady Justice. If the law were just, I’d be set free. Let me do that again.

Greg Rolles on a tripod. Photo credit: FLAC.

I took a deep breath as I began my stay with the Long, slightly shaky, Arm of the Law.

“Like many others we easily feel overwhelmed by the facts, the science and social inertia. We try to find a contribution that embodies our spiritual concerns and our Quaker commitments and will help progress social and economic change.

We look for positive, life-affirming contributions we can make. We are still struggling with this and seek to develop more to offer others and to expand our own thinking, especially as we know the urgency of the need.” (Australian Yearly Meeting Earthcare Testimony)

The truth is, I hate being arrested. Putting yourself in the power of others and waiting around in watch house cells is the pits. No one should ever have to go through it, but as a follower of Jesus and as member of the religious society of friends (Quakers), I have a responsibility to walk in my highest light.

Since just before dawn, I had been nestled comfortably in my harness and boson’s seat, 8 metres above a train line. This line was used solely for taking coal to the Adani owned Abbott Point coal terminal; at the Great Barrier Reef. Adani then shifts the coal to other countries, where the Queensland coal’s emissions do not count as part of Australia’s total. If they did, they would double Australia’s emissions.

We need to end fossil fuel emissions by 2025 in order to avoid the worst of global warming. If built, the Adani mine will rip 10 to 15 million tonnes of coal (with the possibility of going up to 60 million tonnes) out of the earth. If built, it would be a nail in the coffin of a safe climate for humanity. Aurizon, the Queensland government rail corporation has agreed to build a direct route train line for the Adani mine. This will save Adani a billion dollars and makes the mine viable.

So, when it comes to the habitable home of your family what will you do to protect it? We’re already in the middle of a climate emergency. Whatever we do now, we’re going to reach 1.5 degrees above the industrial age of global warming. If we stop global emissions by 2025, we have a chance of keeping it there. If we don’t and hit small scale global warming and get to 2 degrees above, it’ll be a genocide for many vulnerable communities. Of course, if we do nothing, by 2100 we could be 4 to 6 degrees warmer than at the start of the industrial period. The last time the earth was this warm, the poles were tropical rainforests (we won’t get to that as quickly, but think of the impact).

Now here I could launch into how politicians failed us, rich people are greedy and the SYSTEM IS BROKEN, MAN! But I won’t. I want to tell you why I put myself in a position to get arrested.

I got arrested for you.

See, we all see this stuff going down and we feel like there is precious little we can do about it.

I’ve been a Quaker and hung around Friends for a little while now. I know you want to act (be an activist) but you can’t. And I know why.

You see, the train driver, who knows her load of coal is polluting her family’s environment- the head of Adani who knows his family won’t escape the worst of the consequences of global warming and the humble F/friend or Australian citizen; who wants to do more for global warming but are too busy working a job or leading their lives all have one thing in common. Fear. The train driver is scared of losing her house (or not being as rich as she could be), the head of Adani is scared that other people will become richer than they are and they’ll ‘lose everything’.

And us. We’re scared if we don’t work for money in our adult years, we will fall behind. Our security will be taken away by lack of income. The irony of this is, being locked in fear, we are dooming our descendants (and I mean people in their teens and twenties now) to life on planet hell. If we continue to be a prisoner to our fear, we will make our worst fears come true.

Our system has failed us (ha, got you). But see how I say OUR system. The one we’ve built ourselves into. Our fear is holding us back from the lives we could be leading.

I have been arrested before, for anti-war activities. Trying to slow down war is the same issue as trying to slow down global warming (a topic I’ve written and made extensive podcasts about). I don’t do actions and arrests out of a “need to act” to simply do SOMETHING.

No, I do them because the Spirit tells me this is the right thing to do now. If we have any chance of saving ourselves, saving our ecosystems, we need to take peaceful, non-violent direct action against those who are destroying our planet. From the train drivers to the CEO of Adani (trying to build a large coal mine in Central Queensland)- our sisters and brothers are living in fear. Fear of where I will get an income from, fear of what I will eat, fear of where I will live.

I took the action to show you how easy it is.

I took the action to encourage you as a F/friend to recognise that the main reason we’re not working together to fix the climate is fear. Working together with your F/friend’s wherever you are, to step out of fear and to physically get in the way of protecting ourselves is really EASY. Don’t be scared. Where you live, work out what is causing the most harm to our climate; then go with your friends and sit down in its way. Tell the workers and police the good news, that they don’t need to be scared any more. Tell them the time has come to work together to end the murder of our climate. They can join you!

Because the truth is, if we don’t come together as people of the Light, people of God; and show the world that they don’t need to fear what they will wear, or where they will live, but instead work together to save our climate… then who will? Technology cannot make us step out of fear- governments will not know how to find alternatives that will protect us from global warming and destruction. Only we can do that. It’s time. Time to step out of fear, time to get in the way of those who are afraid- and declare to them the good news that we can find a better way to live, where no one has to be afraid of taking actions that go against their soul’s better knowledge.

Eventually the long arm of the law released me to go to court on December the 11th. More time embraced in the long arm of the law. I may lose money and I will lose time. But this is our home. I will not be afraid.

UPDATE: My next mention is on 26th February when a date for a hearing will be set.

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