"A small group of activists and celebrities staged a protest in front of the White House to put pressure on Obama to reject the propose crude oil pipeline. The action came ahead of a rally planned for Sunday on Washington's National Mall, which organizers have dubbed 'the largest climate rally in history.'" — Reuters News Service.
The project involved is the TransCanada pipeline. In the course of that protest, Robert Kennedy Jr., Darryl Hannah, and the president of the Sierra Club were among those arrested, as was NASA's leading climate scientist.
That last one scares me. If any of the above would have a handle on what is really going on, it would be a leading NASA scientist. If anyone might not want to risk getting arrested, it would be that same person. That a government employed scientist would risk engaging in an act of civil disobedience says something about the import of the cause.
It should somewhat alarm us that Sierra Club, of which I am a member, chose to take a stand on this issue, as well. This is a leading environmental group; it is not and never has been Earthfirst! or Greenpeace.
Civil disobedience is, and always has been, an American privilege of expression. In my government class, which is mostly composed of seniors, we spent about three days discussing the First Amendment, which includes freedom of speech.
In some way, this group must have crossed a line and allowed themselves to be arrested, a concession they were apparently willing to make in order to get their point across. A similar decision by actress Lucy Lawless (of "Xena, the Warrior Princess" fame led to her being arrested in her home of New Zealand, also centering on environmental issues.
Only an individual can decide for himself what is worth risking arrest for. For some, I suppose, the answer is nothing.
I know, however, that for me there are things more important. One of these would be faith, another family, and a third, the stewardship of the environment which is one aspect of my faith. It is that stewardship which is at the heart of the arrest of the environmental protesters in Washington.
It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds, especially for those of us who are committed to environmental issues. Whether the protesters went too far, or whether their First Amendment rights were violated, will remain to be seen. The point is that they were willing to go to the mat for something they believe in. We only get one earth.
Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis Christian High School. He can be contacted at: